Imagine a summer breeze. What smells are wafting in the wind? It might be the salty smell of the ocean, a burger sizzling on the grill or, if you are poolside, the chemical stench of chlorine.
Of course, chlorine would be a necessary element for summer fun; after all, you would not want to take a dip in a swimming pool while not it. The chemical helps keep us safe from an associate otherwise bacteria-filled soup of pool water and pee. (Fun fact: That swimming-pool smell you come with chlorine is not really chlorine in any respect however a compound called trichloramine, that forms once chlorine reacts with pee and sweat.)
But is chlorine dangerous?
It’s true that “too a lot of chlorine will cause a lot of [skin] irritation,” said Dr. Ana Duarte, the director of dermatology at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami. But the amounts that are used in swimming pools are usually not a cause for worry, she noted.
An overchlorinated pool, on the other hand, can cause eye irritation, dry out the hair and skin (by stripping them of natural oils), and sometimes cause color-treated hair to turn shades of green, Duarte told Live Science. Because of this, it’s important to have the right levels of chlorine in the pool, she said.
Excess chlorine within the pool will sometimes additionally cause tiny amounts of vapor to return out of the water, which “can trigger [a person’s] asthma,” Duarte said, though she noted that she doesn’t think this effect is too common.
“Perhaps it may happen in a freshly chlorinated pool or a super-chlorinated [one],” she said. But as overeager swimmers may recall, pools are typically closed right after pool keepers chlorinate the water so that some of those vapors can diffuse, she said. (In high concentrations, chlorine gas is known to be very poisonous. In World War I, for example, chlorine gas was used as a chemical weapon. Inhaling large amounts of the gas is poisonous and could cause what’s called a pulmonary edema, or fluid buildup in the lungs, according to the New York State Department of Health.)
Recommendations from a dermatologist
In general, swimmers need not worry about chlorine. “If you’re in a pool situation, in general, it’s safe,” Duarte said. “And if you are doing get a touch little bit of minor irritation, you’ll definitely shower off right when the pool and apply a decent moisturizer to replenish some of those natural oils” that the chlorine may have stripped away.
Even if you don’t rinse off, the consequences won’t be dire, she said: You may end up with a bit of dry skin, or brittleness in your hair.
People who spend a lot of time within the pool, like competitive swimmers or pool-loving kids, could have more of their natural oils stripped off their skin, in which case moisturizing can be very helpful, Duarte said. She specifically recommended using cream or ointment moisturizers instead of lotions. She additionally prompt victimization moisturizers that contain ceramides, which are natural oils in our skin.
To ward off eye irritation while swimming, “you can always wear goggles,” she said. “If you do not wish to wear the goggles, then maybe some lubricating eye drops afterwards.”And for sensitive hair, it can sometimes help to pretreat your hair with oil before getting into the water or to wear a swimming cap, Duarte said.
And infants older than some months needn’t concern the pool. Following “the immediate period after birth … everybody’s skin more or less develops the same quality and also the same protecting barriers,” Duarte said. “So, I believe the most factor with tiny infants is certainly avoiding peak sun hours and enjoying the pool early, and [making] sure the kids have swimming lessons and [that] they’re supervised.” Those things worry doctors more than the chlorine, she added.
Indeed, perhaps a more pressing concern is that globe of warmth that shines on us day after day. Don’t forget to put on sunscreen and make sure you reapply, especially if you’re swimming, Duarte said.