Can Swimming Pools Cause Eczema

What is Eczema?

Definition and Explanation of Eczema

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a common chronic skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by dry, itchy, and inflamed skin patches that can vary in severity. While eczema can occur at any age, it often starts in infancy or childhood and may persist into adulthood.

Common Symptoms of Eczema

The symptoms of eczema can vary from person to person but typically include:

  • Dry skin
  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Swelling
  • Cracking or scaling skin
  • Thickened or leathery patches

It’s important to note that eczema symptoms can come and go in flare-ups, with periods of remission where the skin appears normal.

Understanding the Causes of Eczema

Genetic Factors and Predisposition to Eczema

Genetic factors play a significant role in the development of eczema. People with a family history of allergies or asthma are more likely to develop this condition. Certain genes associated with immune system dysfunction contribute to an increased risk for developing eczematous conditions.

Environmental Triggers for Eczema

In addition to genetic predisposition, various environmental triggers can exacerbate eczematic symptoms:

  1. Allergens: Common allergens such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander, mold spores can trigger an allergic reaction leading to an eczematous flare-up.
  2. Irritants: Exposure to irritants like harsh soaps, detergents,
    chemicals found in personal care products such as fragrances,
    and cleaning agents may irritate sensitive skin and worsen existing dermatitis.
  3. Climate and Weather Conditions: Extreme weather conditions such as cold temperatures,
    low humidity levels which cause dry air might aggravate existing cases
    of eczema.

Can Swimming Pools Cause Eczema?

Overview of the Relationship Between Swimming Pools and Eczema

Swimming is a popular activity, but for individuals with eczema, concerns arise about whether swimming in pools can trigger or worsen their condition. The chlorine commonly used to disinfect pool water has been identified as a potential irritant that could affect the skin of swimmers with sensitive skin.

Chlorine as a Potential Trigger for Eczema

Explanation of Chlorine’s Role in Pool Water

Chlorine is widely used in swimming pools as a disinfectant to kill harmful bacteria and prevent the spread of diseases. It helps maintain clean and safe pool water by killing microorganisms present in it.

How Chlorine Can Affect the Skin

While chlorine effectively kills bacteria, its strong oxidizing properties can also strip away natural oils from the skin’s surface. This can disrupt the protective barrier function of the skin, leading to dryness and irritation. Additionally, some individuals may have an allergic reaction or sensitivity to chlorine itself.

Other Potential Irritants in Swimming Pools

In addition to chlorine, there are other potential irritants found in swimming pools that could exacerbate eczematic symptoms:

  1. Chemicals Used for Pool Maintenance: Various chemicals such as algaecides,
    and pH balancers are commonly used to maintain optimal chemical levels
    in pool water.
  2. Bacteria and Microorganisms: Despite regular chlorination practices,
    some bacteria (e.g., pseudomonas aeruginosa)
    and microorganisms might still be present
    in pool water which could potentially cause irritation or infection on compromised skin.

Research and Studies on the Link Between Swimming Pools and Eczema

The relationship between swimming pools and eczematous conditions has been subject to scientific research:

  • A study published by Chemical Engineering News investigated the effects of chlorine exposure on eczema-prone skin. The findings indicated that frequent exposure to chlorinated water can indeed exacerbate symptoms and lead to flare-ups in some individuals.
  • Another study by The National Eczema Society analyzed data from a large cohort of eczema sufferers and found that chlorine pools were more likely to cause irritation compared to saltwater or fresh-water bodies.

While these studies provide valuable insights, it is important to acknowledge the limitations and gaps in current knowledge. Further research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms behind pool-induced eczematic reactions.

Tips for Managing Eczema When Swimming

If you have eczema but still want to enjoy swimming, there are several steps you can take:

Pre-Swim Preparations

  1. Moisturizing the Skin Before Swimming: Apply a generous layer of moisturizer or emollient cream before entering the pool. This helps create a protective barrier between your skin and potential irritants.
  2. Using Barrier Creams or Ointments: Consider using specialized barrier creams or ointments designed for swimmers with sensitive skin. These products help prevent excessive drying caused by prolonged exposure to water.

Post-Swim Care

  1. Showering Immediately After Swimming: Rinse off any residual chemicals from your skin by taking a lukewarm shower immediately after leaving the pool.
  2. Moisturizing the Skin After Swimming: Apply moisturizer within three minutes of showering while your skin is still slightly damp—this helps lock in moisture, preventing dryness and itching.

Other Preventive Measures

1.Choosing Pools with Lower Chlorine Levels : Opt for swimming pools that maintain lower levels of chlorine as they may be less likely to trigger an allergic reaction
or irritate already compromised skin.
2.Wearing Protective Clothing While Swimming : If possible, consider wearing long sleeves,
or a rash guard to provide an additional layer of protection between your skin and pool water.

Additional Considerations for Individuals with Eczema

Seeking Medical Advice and Diagnosis

If you or your child has eczema, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare provider or dermatologist for proper diagnosis and guidance. They can help identify triggers specific to your individual condition and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Individual Sensitivities and Variations in Triggers

Additional Related Posts:
How To Keep Swimming Pool Water Clear
Can You Swim In The Reflecting Pool

It is important to recognize that eczema triggers can vary from person to person. While chlorine may aggravate symptoms in some individuals, others may not experience any adverse effects. Understanding your own sensitivities will help you make informed decisions about swimming.

Other Potential Factors Contributing to Eczema Flare-ups

Aside from swimming pools, other factors such as stress, certain foods,
and allergens present in the environment can contribute
to eczematic flare-ups.
Identifying these triggers through careful observation
can further aid in managing the condition effectively.


In conclusion, while swimming pools have the potential to exacerbate eczematic symptoms due to chlorine exposure and other irritants present in pool water, there are steps individuals with eczema can take before and after swimming sessions
to minimize discomfort:

  • Moisturizing before entering the pool.
  • Using barrier creams or ointments designed for swimmers.
  • Showering immediately after swimming.
  • Applying moisturizer while skin is still damp.
  • Choosing pools with lower chlorine levels whenever possible.
  • Wearing protective clothing while swimming.

By following these guidelines
and seeking medical advice when necessary,
individuals with eczema can enjoy their time at the pool without compromising their skin health.


  • Baths: Immersing the body in water for cleansing or relaxation purposes.
  • Eczema flare-up: Worsening or exacerbation of eczema symptoms, including redness, itching, and skin irritation.
  • Salts: In this context, refers to chemical compounds such as sodium chloride (table salt) that may be present in pool water.
  • Saltwater: Refers to a type of swimming pool that uses saltwater instead of chlorinated water for disinfection.
  • Body: The physical structure of a human or animal organism.
  • People with eczema: Individuals who have been diagnosed with the skin condition known as eczema.
  • Bleach baths: Bathing in diluted bleach solutions to help manage eczema and prevent bacterial infections on the skin surface.
  • Swimming pool water: Water contained within a swimming pool used for recreational activities like swimming and bathing.
  • Chlorinated pools: Pools treated with chlorine-based disinfectants to maintain cleanliness and kill bacteria.
  • Irritant contact dermatitis: A form of eczema caused by direct exposure to irritants that can lead to inflammation and skin irritation.
  • Disinfectants : Chemical substances used for killing microorganisms on surfaces or objects.
  • Body wash : A liquid soap specifically designed for use on the body during bathing/showering.
  • Swimsuit : Clothing worn while swimming; it covers most parts of the body when engaging in aquatic activities.
    Atopic eczema : A chronic inflammatory skin condition characterized by dry, itchy rashes that can appear anywhere on the body; often associated with allergies
    Severe Eczmea Extensive manifestationsofeczemawithredness ,swelling,blisters,and intenseitching
    Cercarial Dermatitis Also knownas” swimmer’s itch,”it is an allergic reactioncausedby parasitespresentin somebodies of water.
    Calcium :A mineral essential for human health; it may be present in pool water and can contribute to scaling or other water quality issues.
    Towel: A piece of absorbent fabric used for drying off the body after swimming or bathing.
    Adults: Individuals who have reached maturity and are considered fully grown.
    Medical professional : A trained healthcare provider, such as a doctor, nurse, or dermatologist.
    Irritated skin : Skin that is inflamed, red, itchy, or otherwise experiencing discomfort.
    Skin dryness : The state of having insufficient moisture on the skin surface leading to dryness and potential irritation
    Itchy rash: An outbreak of red bumps on the skin accompanied by itching sensation.
    Contact with chlorine: Direct exposure to chlorine-based chemicals commonly found in swimming pools.
    Chlorine rashes: Skin irritations or allergic reactions caused by contact with chlorine-containing substances.
    Chlorine bleach: A powerful disinfectant containing chlorine often used for cleaning purposes.

Please let me know if you need more definitions!

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Mike Hunter

Mike is the owner of the local pool shop. He's been in the business for over 20 years and knows everything there is to know about pools. He's always happy to help his customers with whatever they need, whether it's advice on pool maintenance or choosing the right chemicals. He's also a bit of a pool expert, and is always happy to share his knowledge with anyone who's interested.

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