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Taking care of your skin

Prolonged swimming in chlorinated water has a drying effect on the skin and this can make it itchy. Some people seem more susceptible than others, particularly if a person suffers from eczema. A few people are generally allergic to chlorine and even ozone pools have small amounts of it. So here are a few suggestions for skin care.

Seven tips on skin care for swimmers

  1. Dehydration makes skin more likely to be damaged by chlorine. It breaks down the skin's natural defences, so ensure you drink plenty of water during a training session and ensure your urine is never darker than light yellow.
  2. After completing a training session spend several minutes in the showers to ensure your skin has been thoroughly washed with fresh water and no chlorine is bound to your skin's surface.
  3. Wash costumes thoroughly as soon as possible after the swim. Not only will they last longer but skin rashes are often worse under the costume.
  4. Pay particular care to those areas of your skin where there is chaffing or rubbing. These places are particularly susceptible so protect them with Vaseline.
  5. In some pools the chlorine concentration seems particularly high and it may be worth seeing which local pools suits you best.
  6. It is worth using an emollient that will hydrate the skin, keep it soft and in good condition. The cheapest is Aqueous Cream but more effective is E45 cream. There are others, such as Dermol, which can be applied as a lotion. Your pharmacist can supply these. In all cases, apply the creams liberally as soon as possible after the swim, repeated as often as necessary and rubbed in thoroughly. Lanolin-based creams are probably best avoided as a few people are allergic to these.
  7. If you have some very dry eczematous patches, 0.5% hydrocortisone can be bought from your local chemist. Applied twice daily, this will soon clear up the patch with no risk of skip atrophy. Any worse than this and you will need to see your own GP.
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