Lengthy dips in a chlorinated swimming pool or in the sea can leave your skin feeling dehydrated and, in turn, make it appear scaly and/or feel itchy. Those with eczema will be more susceptible than others to these symptoms, but there are a number of key steps that anybody can take to combat dry skin when swimming.
But firstly, why does chlorinated water play such havoc with our skin?
The average swimming pool is awash with chemicals that play a vital role in preventing the spreading of harmful bacteria, viruses and fungus between swimmers. The chlorine in pool water, however, helps to strip your skin of the lubricating layer of fats that are produced by your sebaceous glands, making it feel tight and itchy. Chlorine is further an irritant for people with sensitive eczema-prone skin.
So what about salt water?
Unfortunately, salt water isn't that much better. It can pull water out of your skin faster, leaving it dry and itchy.
Top 5 tips
1. Apply oil or lotion beforehand
Before entering the pool you can reduce damage to your skin by applying an oil or lotion to create a protective layer between your skin and the water. Many types of water-resistant sun lotions (e.g. EVY or Ladival) are specifically designed to withstand the chemicals in chlorinated water. Try using a lotion applicator like BackBliss to reach even the hard-to-reach areas on your back and shoulders. Although water-resistant products would work the best, regular moisturisers or sunscreens are also effective, however, requiring more frequent re-application and care. Check out our list of suitable sunscreens for dry skin here.
2. Rinse-off your skin and hair
Post-swim, the emphasis should be on rinsing the skin and hair immediately upon leaving the pool or the sea. As the chlorine or the salt water will have done its best to leave you with dry flaky skin, it is wise to try to hydrate with a moisturising shower emollient suitable for dry skin, also often referred to as soap substitutes. Those will cleanse your skin and moisturise it at the same time, forming a protective layer that will protect your skin from drying. If your skin is prone to eczema, choose a hypoallergenic cleanser - which you can find here.
3. Rinse your costume
The British Swimming governing body emphasises how important it is to thoroughly rinse your costume after each swim as skin rashes are often worse under the costume (plus it will make your swimwear last longer).
4. Apply a moisturiser
The best moisturiser for dry skin from swimming is one that absorbs quickly into your skin, feels non-greasy. These qualities are important to also help you want to use these products, which is something that cannot be underestimated. Remember to use suitable products for your face, as often it might be disregarded. Ideally hypoallergenic to reduce the risk of any further skin irritation that may come from a result of being in the chlorinated water. An intense moisturiser may be needed in certain areas where there has been chaffing and/or rubbing. Find moisturisers suitable for dry skin here, however, if prefer hypoallergenic products to reduce the risk of any further skin irritation (if you are sensitive) - we got you covered with a range of products suitable for sensitive skin and eczema here.