Chlorine Allergy

A chlorine allergy can be onset after exposure to high levels of chlorine or if you spend a lot of time in swimming pools either recreationally or through sports.  The symptoms of a suspected allergy can range from mild skin irritation to a more severe reaction such as a painful and itchy rash or blistering of the skin.  

chlorine allergy

After swimming in a chlorinated pool some swimmers experience these symptoms that can be blamed on high levels of chlorine in the pool water.  Pool owners that spend a lot of time in heavily chlorinated pools are most susceptible to these symptoms.  It is important to note that medical evidence supports that in fact what swimmers are experiencing are signs of chlorine sensitivity or intolerance and not a chlorine allergy.

Allergy sufferers who frequently use a pool with substantial chlorine exposure can experience long-term adverse effects.  These include symptoms closely related to asthma that can cause a restriction in the bronchial airway. Another common ailment is a mild chemical burn called irritant dermatitis.  Chlorine can also aggravate an existing condition of dermatitis causing a chlorine rash that may get progressively worse at differing rates depending on the individual and overall exposure. 



Symptoms of a Chlorine Sensitivity  

Symptoms of a suspected chlorine allergy or chlorine sensitivity include but are not limited to the following:

  • Eye irritation and burning
  • Stuffy nose and inflamed mucous membranes
  • Breathing difficulties including symptoms related to asthma
  • Skin redness, tenderness, or rash on the skin

Often these symptoms show up right away but in some cases it may take hours or even days for some swimmers to feel the effects.  A chlorine allergy is often blamed because the symptoms always appear in the presence of chlorine and improve when exposure is reduced or eliminated.  The severity of the reaction varies depending on the individual and the level of sensitivity.


Reducing a Suspected Chlorine Allergy

The most important step you can take is to use the proper amount of chlorine in your swimming pool.  The chlorine concentration in a regular chlorine pool will be between 1.0 – 3.0 ppm or parts per million.  If you can smell a strong chemical odour chances are the levels of chlorine are too high and should be lowered accordingly.

Salt water pool systems are becoming the standard in the pool industry and one of the main reasons is that they provide a safe and gentle environment with a lower level of chlorine that is produced naturally from salt.  The salt water provides a more stable environment that allows for a lower concentration of chlorine while still providing the same level of sanitization.  The natural process that occurs results in a swimming pool that's easier to keep balanced as well as being a healthier and less irritating. 

Showering before and after swimming will also help reduce the amount of chlorine your skin is exposed to and absorbs.  Rinsing before swimming will help provide a healthier swimming experience for everyone using the pool.  Failing to rinse off after swimming in a chemical chlorine pool means that your skin will be in contact with chemical residue the rest of the day.  Salt water pool owners will actually feel clean after a swim and won't have any chemical residue to worry about.



If you notice what appears to be a reaction to chlorine it’s important to speak with a health care provider to receive personalized professional advice.  Your health care provider should be able to provide you with advice that should have you back enjoying your pool in no time.


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