Doesn’t it feel like every other week we find something else that’s bad for skin? Sunlight, lack of sunlight, coffee, alcohol: we’re constantly told what is causing skin damage.
Some pool chemicals could be placed on this list, but it’s important to note that the damage they cause, like the damage from going outside without a hat, is usually very minor. With a little care you can mitigate these negative effects and enjoy your pool without guilt.
Chlorine is the biggest culprit. Undiluted chlorine is a powerful skin irritant, and can even cause chemical burns. Despite this, chlorine in pools is diluted well below the point where it irritates most skin types. Although some people at times experience mild irritation or rashes in pools, this is typically the result of either an excess of chlorine, or the result of particularly sensitive skin.
If you are not a pool owner, you can decide when to go into a pool by the strength of the “bleach” smell. If it seems particularly strong, there is probably too much chlorine in the water. You may also find that chlorine dries out your skin by inhibiting your oil glands. In this case, you can use a pre-swimming lotion to prevent chlorine from entering your pores.
If you are a pool owner, you can make your pool safe for most skin types by using exactly the correct amount of chlorine: no more, no less. Monitor it daily to make sure that the pool stays sanitary. If some of your friends or family members have sensitive skin, and tend to break out in rashes in many different circumstances, you may want to consider using milder chemicals like bromine.
Bromine is just as effective at sanitizing as chlorine, and only a little bit more expensive. The best part is that bromine is mild, both on your nose and on your skin. Bromine is much less likely to cause rashes or skin irritation, and has a weaker drying effect on the skin.
Unfortunately, some people with extremely sensitive skin might find even bromine too harsh on them. Don’t worry, modern technology has you covered with saltwater swimming pools.
Saltwater swimming pools are a modern trend that aims to replace pool chemicals altogether. The mild salt in the water is sanitized by running it through two electrodes after filtering. These electrodes briefly break the salt down into sodium and oxidised chlorine. The chlorine lasts just long enough to sanitize; then it recombines with the sodium back into salt before the water even reaches the pool.
There is no reason that sensitive or dry skin should keep you from loving your pool. A variety of practices, chemicals, and high-tech options can make a pool work with any skin type.