Board-certified allergist Dr. Michael Pistiner shares what he wishes more of his patients knew about the association of eczema and allergies.
Published On: Jul 18, 2018
Last Updated On: Jul 13, 2021
Summer isn’t summer without plenty of quality time in the water. The decision to swim in a pool, lake or the ocean is typically a matter of convenience, preference or location. But if you or your child has eczema, you might be wondering whether it’s safe to swim at all.
Before you finalize your summer plans, let’s take a few minutes to review the pros and cons of pool vs. open water and discuss what you can do to keep your skin cool and calm before and after swimming.
Even though the water feels cold and refreshing, your body actually heats up and sweats when you swim. That’s why it’s important to boost your fluids before you head into the water and replace them afterwards. It’s all about keeping you and your skin hydrated—even when you’re already wet!
Chlorine is the most common disinfectant that gets added to the water in swimming pools. It can be irritating to some eczema skin, but many find that swimming in a chlorinated pool has a soothing effect that’s similar to taking a bleach bath. If you’re in the former group, choose a fresh-water alternative. However, if chlorine sits well with you, enjoy your time in the pool.
The effects of saltwater on eczema skin vary widely. It can be soothing for some and painful for others. If you’re an experienced swimmer, you already know your body and its preferences, but if you’re new to the sport, trial and error is the only way to find out how your skin will react to saltwater. Remember to rinse off and moisturize before and after swimming in any body of water, whether natural or human-made.
The above guidelines apply to swimmers of every age and with all types of eczema, with the exception of young infants. Consult your pediatric dermatologist for expert guidance about how to protect your infant’s eczema skin at the pool, lake or beach.
Swimming is summer’s go-to activity, so take care of the skin you’re in—before, during and after you take the plunge.