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June 17, 2024/Daily Health Stories

Does Pool Water Affect your Skin and Hair?

A dermatologist explains why chlorine from pool water can make your skin and hair feel more dry, and also offers tips on how you can help prevent that.

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CLEVELAND - If you notice your hair or skin tends to feel more dry after swimming at the pool, chlorine from the water is likely to blame.

“Chlorine is a great product for your pool because it helps disinfect it, it keeps bacterial counts down, it keeps it looking, clear and better for when you swim in it and keeping it more sanitary,” said Jennifer Lucas, MD, dermatologist for Cleveland Clinic. “The problem is that it's also very drying, and so the biggest thing with your hair and your skin is that they're going to get dried out from going into the pool.”

Dr. Lucas said that dryness can also cause irritant contact dermatitis, which is a type of rash on the skin.

As for your hair, chlorine can strip it of natural oils, making it more brittle. The same goes for your nails.

Your eyes can get irritated from the chlorine, too.

So, what can you do to help with these kinds of issues?

Dr. Lucas suggests getting your hair and skin wet before going in the water; this way they won’t absorb as much of the chemical.

You could also use a protective hair mask, which is like a leave-in conditioner.

Swimming caps and goggles are another option.

Finally, when you’re done, it’s important to take a shower right away.

“All that chlorine is on you, you don't want it to sit and continue to cause irritation. You want to get in, take a shower, use a gentle cleanser to get that pool water off of you,” she advised. “And then moisturizing is really important. All of that oil you’ve just stripped off your skin, you want to put it back on. So, especially with products that have ceramides in them or alpha-hydroxy acids. These are good products to put back on your skin to minimize the irritation and the dryness.”

And don’t forget to apply plenty of sunscreen before you go swimming.

Dr. Lucas said not only will that protect your skin from the sun, but it can help keep it moisturized and act as a barrier against the chlorine.

About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. Cleveland Clinic is consistently recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for its expertise and care. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 81,000 employees worldwide are more than 5,743 salaried physicians and researchers, and 20,160 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,690-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 23 hospitals, 276 outpatient facilities, including locations in northeast Ohio; Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2023, there were 13.7 million outpatient encounters, 323,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 301,000 surgeries and procedures throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 132 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at twitter.com/CleClinicNews. News and resources available at newsroom.clevelandclinic.org.

Editor’s Note: Cleveland Clinic News Service is available to provide broadcast-quality interviews and B-roll upon request.

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