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Swimming Pool Bath: How to Protect Your Skin?

Whether it's for occasional swims or frequent swimming training, chlorine damages the skin. In order to best preserve the functioning of your skin barrier and prevent the onset of skin discomfort, it's important to adopt good practices.

Summary
Published February 19, 2024, by Sandrine, Scientific Editor — 8 min read
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Swimming Pool: What Effects on the Skin?

In order to prevent the risk of bacteria, algae, and fungi development in water, treating products such as the chlorine or even calcium hypochlorite are added to swimming pools. Indeed, these substances are the most commonly used because they have excellent disinfectant properties, and are also appreciated for their low cost and ease of use.

However, when chlorinated water comes into contact with organic matter brought in by swimmers (sweat, urine, hair, dead skin, saliva, cosmetics, etc...), chloramines form in the pool, chemical compounds resulting from the reaction between chlorine and ammonia and can cause eye, respiratory tract, and skin irritations . They are also responsible for the strong bleach-like smell so characteristic of swimming pools that permeates the skin, hair, and fabrics. Other factors can also lead to a higher production of chloramines, such as high water temperature or turbulence (whirlpool baths, waterfalls).

During this chemical reaction, volatile by-products (trichloramines) are also formed and degas into the air, thereby producing unpleasant odours. It has been observed that when atmospheric trichloramine exceeds 0.5 mg/m3, eye irritations can be noticed, hence the limit value of 0.3 mg/m3, recommended by ANSES, not to be exceeded in swimming pool halls.

At the skin level, both water itself and the formed chloramines have detrimental effects. Indeed, they alter the composition of the stratum corneum, which dries out the skin. The effects vary depending on the duration of exposure:

  • For recreational swimming : Dry skin, itching, erythema, allergic contact dermatitis, and contact urticaria have been identified.

  • In the case of repeated swimming or water sports : A wide spectrum of dermatoses have been identified. The xerosis is one of the conditions that most affects swimmers, especially those with sensitive and atopic skin (eczema) as their skin barrier is already sensitised. Furthermore, among lifeguards and coaches, more warts and fungal infections have been identified due to the damp environment.

Note : Xerosis is a skin condition that refers to dry skin. It occurs when the water content in the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the skin) is lower than normal. Consequently, the hydrolipidic film can no longer fulfil its protective role, and water loss intensifies. The skin thus becomes dry and rough, accompanied by feelings of discomfort (tightness, redness, itching).

The right habits to adopt in order to protect your skin.

In order to best preserve your skin barrier, there are good practices to adopt before and after swimming:

  • Before swimming:

    Before entering the water, it is absolutely essential to shower with soap and go through the footbath. Also remember to remove your makeup and to use the toilet before swimming (theurea is the main organic pollutant in swimming pools). These few actions will help to limit the contribution of organic pollution traces and therefore the presence of chloramines in the pool. Indeed, the higher the concentration of chloramines, the more the skin dries out.

  • After swimming:

    Upon exiting the swimming pool, rinse yourself immediately with clear water to remove the chlorinated water from your skin. When you shower, use a super-fatted shower gel with a neutral pH or a shower oil which will be more gentle on your skin. With 2.5% of vitamins E (INCI: "Tocopherol") and F (INCI: "Linoleic Acid, Linolenic Acid"), as well as squalane andbitter almond extract, our lipid-replenishing shower oil deeply nourishes the skin and reduces feelings of tightness. For your facial skin, cleanse it with the hydrating cleansing milk. It containshyaluronic acid andcoconut oil which are hydrating and nourishing active ingredients. It is also composed ofchamomile extract known for its calming virtues. Thus, it restores the hydrolipidic barrier and soothes irritations.

    Afterwards, pat yourself dry with a soft towel and apply a moisturising cream all over your body. The aim is to restore the hydrolipidic barrier that has been altered during bathing and to keep the skin hydrated. Our nourishing body cream contains 10% of squalane, which, with a structure similar to sebum, provides lipids to combat skin dryness and restore the hydrolipidic film that can thus resume its main role: preventing the water present in the body from evaporating. It is also composed of shea butter with its nourishing and soothing properties, as well as plum oil known for its softening, nourishing and antioxidant virtues. This cream is suitable for all skin types. For your facial skin, use the nourishing face cream enriched with hydrating and lipid-replenishing active ingredients (hyaluronic acid, shea butter, squalane, plum oil) that restores suppleness to the skin and reduces feelings of tightness.

Little extra : 1 to 2 times a week, we recommend you to carry out a hydrating mask in order to provide all the necessary elements for the proper functioning of your skin. Indeed, this treatment increases the skin's hydration. It notably containstremella extract (INCI: "Tremella Fuciformis Extract")which contains a natural hyaluronic acid of low molecular weight that allows it to penetrate deeply into the skin. Rich in polysaccharides and fatty acids, thetremella extract forms a microscopic film on the skin's surface and improves the impermeability of the skin barrier. It also consists ofaloe vera gel (INCI: "Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice") which hydrates and soothes the skin.

Source:

  • QUIRCE S. Health effects of exposure to chlorination by-products in swimming pools. Allergy (2021).

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