Chlorine is a commonly used disinfectant in swimming pools and water treatment facilities that effectively kills harmful bacteria and other microorganisms. However, prolonged exposure to chlorinated water can have negative effects on the skin. Especially with Spring and Summer coming up, understanding the potential effects of chlorine on the skin is essential for maintaining healthy skin and minimizing the risks associated with exposure to this powerful disinfectant.  Below, our South Florida dermatologists at Dr. Wassef’s DCSI office are diving deeper into how chlorine can impact the skin, as well as some tips for minimizing these effects. Keep reading to learn more.

What Is Chlorination?

Chlorination refers to adding chlorine to water to disinfect it and kill harmful microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Chlorine is a highly effective disinfectant and is widely used in water treatment facilities, swimming pools, and other settings where water needs to be kept clean and safe for human use. The amount of chlorine added to the water depends on a variety of factors, including the level of contamination in the water and the desired level of disinfection.    Considering how often it’s used, many people wonder “Is chlorine bad for you?” White chlorination is highly effective at killing harmful bacteria, but it can also have some negative effects. Additionally, when chlorine reacts with organic matter in the water it can form byproducts such as trihalomethanes (THMs), which have been linked to a variety of health issues, including cancer and reproduction problems.    To minimize these risks, water treatment facilities carefully monitor and regulate the levels of chlorine and other disinfectants in the water and take steps to reduce the formation of disinfection byproducts. You can also minimize your exposure to chlorine by decreasing the amount of time you spend in chlorinated water. However, this can be difficult for people who have to spend a lot of time in chlorinated water, such as athletes that swim for a living. We understand that some people can’t avoid chlorinated water, which is why we’re also sharing how to protect your skin from chlorine below.

Is Chlorine Bad for Skin?

If you’ve ever spent time in a swimming pool, you've probably noticed that your skin can feel dry and itchy afterward. This is due, in part, to the effects of chlorine, which is commonly used to disinfect pool water. But is chlorine actually bad for your skin? Let's take a closer look.  Some of the effects of chlorine on skin include:
  • Dryness and Itching
  • Eczema Flare-Ups
  • Acne
  • Discoloration
  • Premature Aging
While it is effective at keeping pool water clean and safe, skin and chlorine don’t go so well together. It can also have some negative effects on the skin. It is commonly known to dry out the skin, which is not good for people who are more prone to dry skin or have skin conditions that cause dryness and sensitivity. Additionally, an example of your skin drying and shriveling up due to the chemicals in the water is when the skin on your fingers prunes up or looks wrinkly.   You also have to be careful with chlorine water because it does have the potential to interact with other chemicals, including chemicals from any of your skincare products or hair care products. So… is chlorine bad for your skin? The answer is complicated. Considering all the listed effects of chlorine on the skin, it is safe to say that it is not good for you. For most people chlorine leaves the skin worse than it found it, which is why we hope that this information can help you with your future decisions regarding chlorine exposure. Ultimately, the key is to strike a balance between keeping the water safe and minimizing the potential risks to your skin and overall health.

How to Protect Your Skin From Chlorine

There are lots of different ways to protect your skin from the effects of chlorine. Showering before swimming might seem counterintuitive, but getting your skin and hair properly wet before getting in the pool will actually lessen the amount of chlorine they absorb. We also recommend showering immediately after swimming and moisturizing regularly, which helps make the skin stronger. Resources like barrier creams can also help, which are topical formulations used to place physical barriers between the skin and irritating contaminants. Finally, avoiding chlorinated water altogether could be a potential option for some people, but not all.   Furthermore, if you’re looking for an answer to the question of how to protect your hair from chlorine as well as your eyes, we also suggest you wear a swim cap or goggles whenever you’re in chlorinated water. We don’t want these other parts of our body to see negative effects from chlorine, either!

DCSI Is Here for All Your Skincare Needs! 

At DCSI, we always recommend a healthy consumption of Vitamin C. Vitamin C promotes healthy skin, hair, and nails and can give you an added level of protection against harsh contents like chlorine. The effects of chlorine on the skin are multiple, so if you’ve experienced any permanent skin damage, our experts can help. We pride ourselves on being the best dermatologists in South Florida. Contact our team today to make an appointment or call us if you have any questions or concerns about your skin’s health.