Chlorine is a strong oxidizing agent. It acts as a disinfectant and is used in swimming pools for the same purpose. It is one of the most frequently used chemicals to disinfect water. People who stay in pools for a longer time, due to high contact with chlorine can develop itching. Chlorine is so powerful that it can remove protective oils present on the skin surface.
In certain sensitive people, it can cause itching although the intensity of it varies from one person to another. Sometimes its mild but in rare cases, it can be life-threatening. This rash is known as chlorine rash. It is also commonly known as swimming pool rash because many people complain of this after swimming.
The presentation of the rash varies according to the sensitivity of the person which means that for some people even a small amount would produce symptoms while for others a large quantity is required.
Appearance also varies with the duration of exposure. The first symptom in almost all the cases is itching. It can begin as soon as the person comes in contact with water. Mostly it is delayed for some time. If exposure is of a minor duration then the rash won’t be extensive. In cases of prolonged exposure, there can be blistering of skin later on forming an ulcer. There can be scales or crusts on the skin. The skin burns. It may be associated with pain.
There is irritation in eyes and a constant desire to scratch them.
There is excessive watery discharge from eyes, they swell and become painful. There are temporary vision problems. It removes natural skin oils making the skin dry and rough.
In an attempt to prevent the harmful substances from entering the nose, the nasal secretions increase with coughing and sneezing. Prolonged exposure can cause breathing problems and chest pain.
The gut is also affected by this in some people, causes a burning sensation in the gut along with other digestive problems.In people who are allergic to it, a variety of allergic manifestations can take place such as conjunctivitis, hay fever, asthma, contact dermatitis etc. It can cause inflammation of mucosal surfaces.
Due to prolonged inflammation of airway mucosal surface, the person can suffer from lung diseases.The risk of chlorine rash is much higher in certain people. These individuals, also known in medicine as the high-risk group include people who have a prolonged exposure to chlorine such as lifeguards, swimming teachers, professional cleaners ( as many disinfectants are rich in chlorine) and professional swimmers.
Many Olympic gold medals have suffered from this problem, such as U.S. Olympic gold medalist Amy Van Dyken and Australian Olympic gold medalist Ian Thorpe.
People who work in industries where chlorine is used or made have a high occupational hazard. This includes bleaching industry, chlorine production industries, and water treatment industries. Their works often become victims of chlorine.
Prevention is always better than cure. But the question here is how can we prevent this? Here is the certain way that you can use to reduce the risk of chlorine rash. Decrease your use of public swimming areas and whenever you use them, always ask the management about the level of chlorine in the water.
Applying Vaseline on skin before entering water decreases effects of chlorine on the skin. Remove your dress as soon as you come out of the water to decrease the duration of exposure and take a bath. Adding baking soda to water can decrease itching and inflammation. Wash your swimsuit as well. Another way to know the level of chlorine is to use ph. strips. Normal should be 7.2 to 7.8.
The following measures can be used for the management and treatment of the problem. Whenever suspected to be suffering from it, consult an emergency care as early as possible. Many methods can be used to treat the rash such as anti-itch medication. Sometimes anti-allergic containing antihistamines as drained are used. Corticosteroids are given for inflammation and their overuse should be avoided due to harmful effects.
Due to the effect of chlorine on natural skin oils, the skin becomes dry and increases the chances of bacterial infections. Hence the person is recommended to use prophylactic anti-bacterial till completely cured.For a definite diagnosis consult an allergist.
There can be many other causes of your symptoms. By performing sensitivity tests on your skin, he/she can precisely tell if chlorine is the underlying cause of our problem or not. Inform him about your history of swimming, any past similar reactions, and any other allergies.
This all will help him in treating you effectively. Avoid entering the pool till the rashes are completely healed. Chorine rash can harm you in many different ways so it is better to stay alert and aware while using it.
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