Why Chlorine and What Can It Hurt?
It is a fact that the chlorine found in our municipal water supplies damages and ages our skin. This condition is, of course, exacerbated when we swim in a chlorinated pool. It is no surprise, as well, that skin damage is only one of the ailments that exposure to chlorine can lead to. Respiratory conditions, heart and circulatory issues, and fatigue are also common physical debilitations caused by chlorinated water.
Chlorine is used, in small dosages, as a disinfectant in almost all municipal water supplies world-wide. Chlorine provides the same function when used in a swimming pool, to keep the pool water essentially bacteria-free and crystal clear, if not precisely healthy. When used to disinfect a pool, however, a much larger amount of chlorine, in parts per million (ppm), is used as compared to tap water.
Some of the damage that the chlorine used in most swimming pools can cause to the skin includes:
• Dry, patchy skin
• Itchy skin
• Skin irritation
• Imbalance of natural, healthy bacteria on the skin
All of these symptoms combine to prematurely age our skin, as well as to rob it of its natural elasticity, and its healthy glow.
Chlorine and Acne
There is some controversy about the effects of chlorine on acne, with some folks claiming that the drying aspect of chlorine clears up acne, and other’s saying chlorine exacerbates their acne problem.
Studies have shown that chlorine destroys vitamin E, as well as polyunsaturated fatty acids, each vital to healthy skin. The destruction of vitamin E and fatty acids due to exposure by swimming in chlorinated pools is claimed to be a major cause of acne, as well as eczema, and other skin irritations.
As well, there is a condition known as chloracne, where those who are constantly exposed to high levels of chlorine, workers in chemical plants, for example, often develop severe acne-like symptoms. Though originally thought to be caused only by chlorine exposure, it has since been determined that chloracne is a direct result of exposure to massive amounts of any sort of dioxins. Chlorine, being a dioxin, is certainly implicated in this condition. Thus acne, in any form, must be included among the harmful effects that chlorine can have on our skin
What Can We Do to Protect Our Skin?
Though we can wear goggles to protect the sensitive tissue of our eyes, most people are not willing to wear a full wet suit to take a dip in the pool. Unfortunately, though a wetsuit would be the most effective method to protect our skin from chlorine damage, it would also rob us of most of the pleasure of a refreshing swim. There are, however, some things we can do, especially when we’re finished swimming, to counteract the effects of chlorine in our pool water.
One of the first steps to take, immediately upon exiting the pool, would be to rinse off as much chlorine from the pool as possible. If possible, this should be done with a chlorine shower water filter since city or town shower water contains chlorine, as well. However, if the shower is not steaming, the effects of chlorine in the shower water will be considerably lessened, and certainly far less than the amounts of chlorine in the pool water.
The second step we can take to protect our skin from the effects of chlorinated pool water is to apply a moisturizing cream, preferably with an exfoliant, which will remove most of the layer of dead skin cells to reveal the newer, healthy cells, as well as restore moisture to dry skin. Loofah soap is touted as a superb moisturizing agent, and loofah is an active ingredient in many exfoliating products that are available.
Beware Of That Hot Shower
Using these moisturizers and exfoliants is most effective after a hot shower; our pores will be wide open, thus allowing the moisturizers to penetrate easier and faster. chlorine and skinHowever, this hot, steamy shower must be taken in filtered water; otherwise the chlorine in the shower water will vaporize much faster than the water, essentially forming a type of chlorine gas. Though the heat of the shower will open our pores to facilitate the penetration of moisturizing cream, it will also allow those same open pores to absorb damaging amounts of chlorine and byproducts generated by the heat of the shower. This absorption of vaporized chlorine could possibly entail worse physical ailments than just dry skin and acne.
Chlorine, especially when combined with other toxins in water becomes an oxidizing agent. Oxidizing agents are known to be extremely damaging to body cells, including, of course, skin cells. The vitamins C and E are de-oxidizers than can be taken internally, and may also, as a lotion or cream, be applied topically. Taking de-oxidizers such as vitamin C and E, as well as applying moisturizing creams and exfoliants on a daily basis, are, most likely, our greatest skin protection before, during, and after swimming in chlorinated pool water.