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Do You Have a Chlorine Allergy? 

Going swimming this summer? You need to know first if you have chlorine allergy. 

Written by:
George Simms
Plumber & Contractor

When you experience a severe allergic reaction to chlorine, your skin can break out in welts and lesions, and your breathing can become labored and forced. Many people suffer from a chlorine allergy, and this reaction can cause long-term and chronic damage to the body’s respiratory system and epidermis. 

It’s essential that you’re aware of which physical symptoms to look for after you’ve come into direct contact with chlorine

" Once you know this information, you can put measures in place to protect you from having this reaction in the future and prevent you from experiencing skin damage and severe breathing issues. "

Effects of a Chlorine Allergy

There are several obvious symptoms of a chlorine allergy that you can spot whenever you get out of a chlorinated pool or handle bleach-based household products.

1. Irritated skin

One of the most apparent effects of a chlorine allergy is the impact it has on your skin. Chlorine is a chemical that can irritate your skin in the same way that a chemical burn would. For that reason, a chlorine allergy often takes the form of irritant contact dermatitis. 

This chemical also dries out your skin and causes its top layer to become cracked and wrinkled. If you’re swimming in a chlorinated pool, the chemical reacts with the water to create a hypochlorous acid that can damage the surface of your skin. 

2. Sore eyes 

Chlorine can harm your eyes. There’s a thin fluid layer on the eye’s cornea called a tear film, and this layer keeps various specks of dirt and gunk out of the eye’s outer mucosal surface.

When your face comes into contact with chlorine, this chemical breaks down the tear film layer, which exposes your eyes to harmful germs and nasty pieces of crud. This can lead to a host of eye infections, including viral issues like conjunctivitis and major bacterial problems like acanthamoeba keratitis, leading to the eventual loss of vision. 

3. Issues with respiratory system

Research shows that long-term exposure to chlorine can affect your body’s respiratory system, leading to chronic issues like dyspnea and more severe physical problems like peripheral cyanosis. 

If you consume high levels of chlorine, this chemical can obstruct your airways and trigger a buildup of excess fluid in your lungs, causing pulmonary edema and making it very hard for you to breathe properly. Inhaling lower levels of chlorine can lead to feelings of nausea and cause you to wheeze when you breathe. 

4. Swollen skin 

In more extreme cases, chlorine causes serious burns, hives, or large blisters on your skin. Those who are already dealing with skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, acne, and dermatitis have a more severe reaction to chlorine chemicals. If you have a pre-existing skin problem and swim in a heavily chlorinated pool, you may experience a severe flare-up of rashes and scaling all over your skin, causing acute irritation.

Do You Have a Chlorine Allergy? 

The simplest way to tell if you have a chlorine allergy is to check for any of these symptoms after you’ve knowingly come into contact with chlorine. You might notice hives developing on your skin’s surface when you get out of the swimming pool, or you could experience breathing difficulties after handling or smelling chlorinated paper towels, bleached coffee filters, or household disinfectants. 

Many municipalities treat their water with chlorine, and you can’t always smell it in the shower or sink. If you notice skin issues after showering or washing your hands, there may be too much chlorine in the water supply. 

Check for any crusting and scaling on your skin, and monitor any itchiness in and around your eyes. If you already suffer from existing respiratory problems like asthma and rhinitis, assess if you can feel your chest tightening. Monitor the other parts of your respiratory system as well. If you notice your nose is running more than usual or that you’re sneezing a lot, this could be a sign that you’re having an allergic reaction to chlorine. 

If you think that you might have a chlorine allergy, get in touch with a professional allergist. They can diagnose the issue properly and give you advice about what to do next. If you experience a severe reaction, call 911 immediately to get help.

How Do You Relieve the Symptoms of a Chlorine Allergy?

Fortunately, there are several simple measures you can take to relieve the symptoms of a chlorine allergy. 

1. Apply moisturizer to your skin

If you notice that your skin becomes inflamed after exposure to chlorine, apply moisturizer to the tender or irritated areas. Use skin products that contain vitamin C. This vitamin effectively neutralizes any chlorine and chlorine-based compounds that might linger on your skin’s surface.

You can also apply vitamin E to your skin, which triggers the skin cells’ production of collagen, strengthening your epidermis and healing dry, irritated patches. Find a skin product that contains provitamin B5 because this pantothenic acid helps your skin cells to hold and retain moisture. This prevents your skin from becoming dehydrated and wrinkly. 

2. Shower after swimming and install a filter

Another simple way to relieve chlorine allergy symptoms is to take a hot shower right after you’ve been swimming in a chlorinated pool. The water from this shower removes many solutions and substances from your skin’s surface, including dirt, sweat, sun lotion, and chlorine residue. 

For homes with high chlorine levels in the tap water, ensure you’re using a shower head that has an integrated Activated Charcoal or Kinetic Degradation Fluxion filter. These catch and remove any excess chlorine in the water supply. 

"Even oceans and freshwater lakes contain dissolved chlorine molecules, so steer clear of wild swimming as well."

3. Apply Vaseline to skin before going swimming 

If you apply a touch of petroleum jelly to tender or dry parts of your skin before you get into the pool, this substance acts as a type of barrier, helping to prevent chlorine from coming into direct contact with your sore areas. If you experience extreme flare-ups whenever you get into a chlorinated pool, avoid swimming. 

4. Help Your Life Go Swimmingly by Learning Whether You Have a Chlorine Allergy 

If you find that your skin breaks out in rashes and scales whenever you handle household bleach, or you feel your chest contracting whenever you’ve been swimming in a pool, you may have a chlorine allergy. Once you can diagnose this form of reaction, you can take steps to protect yourself against experiencing similar symptoms in the future.

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About the Author

George Simms is a Salt Lake City based plumber and contractor, with a focus on aiding homes and businesses (particularly farm) solve problems with hard and contaminated water. Walter is here to share his wealth of job experience and a knowledge of both modern and antique plumbing.

Last Updated on January 9, 2023