Dry. Scaly. Itchy.
No, these aren’t the symptoms of skin infected with leprosy. It’s the unfortunate side effects of skin’s constant exposure to a chlorinated swimming pool. But there is some good news: there are a few things you can do before, during, and after a swimming workout to make sure your skin remains as un-reptilian as possible.
Chlorine is the culprit; it saps your skin of any of its natural moisture and then clings to the skin making it hard to get rid of the smell. Once your skin gets dry, it turns itchy and you run the risk of your skin being perpetually damaged during your regular swimming routine. Just make sure you follow these 13 skin care tips for swimmers to help you maintain simply supple skin!
1) Make sure you take a pre-swim shower. Not only is this good for swimmer’s hair, but it’ll soak into the top layer of your skin and will keep it from drying out if you jump into the pool first thing.
2) Don’t be afraid to use a little lotion after this shower as a kind of protective layer before you cannon ball into that chemical laced water. Don’t go crazy—then you’ll just dirty the pool and the management will probably end up over chlorinating and the problem will compound. Use a chlorine neutralizing lotion to prevent your skin from breaking out in a rash or becoming itchy after your swim.
3) If you’re a serious swimmer, there’s a chance you’re prone to chafing. Carry some petroleum jelly in your swim bag to apply to areas where your arms and legs might rub and become irritated. Prevention is key!
4) Drink water! Dehydration makes skin more likely to be damaged by chlorine. It breaks down the skin’s natural defenses so make sure to drink plenty before a workout.
In the Water
5) If you’re doing laps outside, don’t forget the sunscreen. You should be reapplying that SPF goodness every thirty minutes if you’re doing a prolonged workout. You don’t want to get stuck in a bad skin cycle which will happen if you have a sunburn that damages the top layer of skin which will be aggravated if you’re constantly in the pool. So just don’t get sunburned—use that sunscreen!
6) When you’re in the water, you probably won’t feel yourself sweat and are less likely to notice dehydration. You’ll have to remain conscious of your need to drink water so do it every time you take a break you’re replenishing your body. This will also help guarantee your skin will remain rejuvenated and moisturized from within.
7) Don’t spend time after your work out just sitting around the pool. Shower immediately—you don’t want the chlorine to dry onto your skin. Spend some time just rinsing off to ensure you get those nasty chemicals from latching on and drying you out.
8) Use a small amount of mild soap to give yourself a final cleaning. Don’t use something that’s too harsh or that will sap the moisture out of your skin any further.
9) Use a good moisturizer after you’ve sufficiently rinsed off. Something like an aqueous cream, something that is lanolin based or contains aloe vera will be best. Avoid lotions that are heavily scented as they usually contain alcohol and that will (you guessed it!) dry out your skin.
10) Use baby powder (or any other kind of talcum powder) where it might be difficult to dry off before getting dressed. Most use it on their feet and on their upper body where it not being dry can become a serious issue. It’ll also help you put your clothes on easier.
11) Be wary of really tight clothing after a swim or wearing things that are made of synthetic materials that won’t allow your skin to breathe. Cotton is your friend!
12) Stay hydrated! This really is a before, during, and after step. Your skin will do a lot better if it’s getting the hydration in needs.
13) Make sure you’re thoroughly washing your swimsuit between uses so that chemicals aren’t getting trapped in the fabric. Your skin is much more likely to get aggravated, particularly if you have sensitive skin, if your swimsuit isn’t getting clean between uses.
Okay, okay. So I realize that I counted "drink water" as three separate tips but it really is an important part of your overall skin care at all stages of a swimming workout. But if you follow that one (or three) rule along with the rest of the 13 skin care tips for swimmers, you'll be getting a rocking body from those laps and have glowing skin to go along with it!