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Itchy Skin From Chlorine

Itchy Skin From Chlorine


Chlorine is a chemical element. Compounds containing chlorine keep bacteria from growing in pools and hot tubs. Despite its helpfulness in keeping pools clean and sanitary, exposure to chlorine poses some health risks. Low levels of skin exposure can cause eye and skin irritation, while higher levels of exposure can result in severe burns and ulcerations. Chlorine can also strip away your skin's protective oils, which can make it dry and itchy.


Exposure to chlorine can cause contact dermatitis, or skin inflammation resulting from direct contact with an irritant, in some individuals. Contact dermatitis can cause a red rash and severe itching as well as blisters in severe cases. The drying effects of chlorine and water may also cause itchiness without a rash.


If you experience contact dermatitis due to chlorine,  you avoid further exposure. After limiting your exposure, the rash and itching will usually go away within 2 to 4 weeks. Hydrocortisone creams can help relieve the itchiness while you wait for the rash to clear. In severe cases, you might need oral corticosteroids and antihistamines to relieve itching and inflammation.


Allowing chlorine to stay on your skin after you swim can dry out your skin and make it more prone to irritation. Shower or bathe after your swim using a mild, moisturizing soap. Apply a thick moisturizing cream to help seal in your skin's moisture. Before you swim, put a moisturizer, such as petrolatum, on the areas of your body most susceptible to itching to minimize the irritation from chlorine exposure.


A rash that appears within a few days of soaking in a hot tub might be hot tub folliculitis, a type of skin infection. Hot tub rash, or hot tub folliculitis, occurs when Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria infect your skin. Itchy spots on your skin will eventually develop into a red, bumpy rash with pus-filled blisters around the hair follicles. Although the rash is a nuisance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that it usually clears up without treatment within a few days.

Expert Insight

Properly maintained hot tubs and pools are less likely to spread germs and cause skin irritation. According to the CDC, pool operators should check chlorine and pH levels twice a day. Optimal chlorine levels are 1 to 3 parts per million. An optimal pH level is between 7.2 to 7.8.

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