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Ask DrB: Swimming pools and atopic eczema: do they go together?

publication date: May 4, 2012
author/source: DrB
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Parents worry
about taking a child with eczema to a swimming pool, but let's face it swimming is fun and good exercise - it also saves lives!
So I have checked this out, and the good news is swimming pools and atopic eczema usually go together just fine. Swimming in the sea too!
But a problem can be caused by prolonged contact between skin and water. The water removes a layer of the skin's natural protection and leaves it more porous. Then, after coming out of the pool, or the sea, and drying the skin, water in the skin can easily escape out by evaporation, leaving the skin much too dry: dry, and itchy, and vulnerable.
Solution: apply a thin layer of moisturizer to the skin before swimming. This protects the skin from the water. But make sure the moisturizer is applied thinly. There is no need to prepare for cross-channel swimming!
More good news: the chemicals in the water of a swimming pool are disinfectants: chlorine and bromine, for example. These can be good for the skin, as their antibacterial effect is anti-inflammatory. On the other hand, the chemicals that are put in swimming pools can also irritate sensitive skin. After swimming in a swimming pool, a quick shower and another thin application of moisturizer is a good idea too.
Good idea after a dip in the briny too!

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