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by Carol Brzozowski

December 17, 2019

Skin care products can help you take care of your body after you swim

Swimming is good for your body, but exposure to chlorine and salt water can be harsh on your skin. Proper pre- and post-swim skin care can head off potential problems.

Showering before swimming is not only courteous to other swimmers, but necessary to protect your skin because it removes organic compounds, says Joel Schlessinger, a board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon, chief editor of Cosmetic Surgery, Practical Dermatology magazine, and a skin product line president.

Chlorine forms into chloramine when it comes into contact with organic material such as skin cells, sebum, or sweat, he says. He adds that chloramine is toxic and causes the skin to become irritated and damaged, and also causes premature aging, inflammation, and dryness.

Schlessinger says that if you’re swimming outdoors, whether it’s for a pool workout or open water swim, you should apply sunscreen on clean skin.

“Harmful UV rays can quickly damage skin, cause premature aging, and in some cases lead to skin cancer,” Schlessinger says. “It’s important to apply sunscreen even if swimming in an indoor pool. Prolonged exposure to water strips the skin of sebum, a natural oil that keeps water from leaving the skin’s surface.”

TropicSport co-founder Lisa Palmer recommends applying sunscreen after other skin care products in a cool, dry place 15 to 20 minutes before going in the water, because humid environments can impede effectiveness, though you can also put sunscreen on before other skin care products.

While chemical sunscreens are designed to specifically absorb UVA and UVB rays, mineral sunscreens—which use non-nano zinc oxide and titanium dioxide mineral active ingredients—adhere to the skin. They can be used where chemical sunscreens are banned over concerns of harming coral reefs, places that will soon include Hawaii and Key West, Fla.

Broad spectrum sunscreen products protect from both UVB/UVA rays. UVB rays are the chief cause of skin reddening and sunburn and play a key role in the development of skin cancer.

SPF 15 blocks 93 percent of UVB rays, while SPF 30 and 50 blocks 97 and 98 percent of UBV rays, respectively.

Schlessinger says that once you’re done swimming, whether it’s a pool practice or open water swim, you should shower off to remove any chemicals or bacteria you might’ve picked up while in the water.

Open water swimming can expose skin to viruses and bacteria, Schlessinger says.

“Freshwater is a breeding ground for E. coli, viruses, and parasites,” he says. “An open wound or split in the skin can quickly turn into an infection, unless you wash in warm water as soon as you finish swimming.”

Warm water relaxes your muscles, removes toxins from your skin, and opens your pores, says Schlessinger, who adds that hot water can damage the skin’s barrier, leading to excess dryness and inflammation.

Consider a body wash that not only helps remove chemicals and reduce skin inflammation but uses sodium hypochlorite to clean and decrease the spread of infection from viruses and bacteria picked up from swimming, Schlessinger says.

SBR Sports CEO Karen Allard says TriSwim body wash is designed with sequestering agents that wrap around the chlorine molecule, allowing it to be released from the skin and washed away.

If you’re going to be outside after your swim, you should put on sunscreen, Schlessinger says. TropicSport’s Palmer recommends reapplications every 80 minutes.

A prebiotic moisturizer soothes irritated and dehydrated skin from a day in sun and water, Schlessinger says.

TriSwim lotion masks the smell of chlorine. The company’s facial skin care is designed to gently remove chlorine. The products also contain natural ingredients such as chamomile and watercress to deal with the itchy skin pool water sometimes causes.


  • Health and Nutrition