Swimming and Skin Care: How to Protect and Replenish Skin

Source: flickr.com user Simon Thomas
Source: flickr.com user Simon Thomas

Swimming is a great way to cool off during the hot days of summer, and is one of the best forms of low-impact exercise. Unfortunately, for dry and sensitive skin sufferers, swimming can mean irritation, excessive dryness, and other symptoms including redness, itching, stinging, and flaky skin.

If you’ve experienced sensitive and dry skin flare-ups after swimming, chances are you’ve given up on enjoying this summer past-time. But, you don’t have to sit by the pool any longer! Take advantage of these skin care tips, and you’ll find that you’re able to swim without experiencing increased skin irritation.

Before Swimming
As with any skin care regimen, you should always look first to protecting the skin. If you’re able to prevent skin irritation, you won’t have to spend as much time suffering symptoms and correcting the problem!

For those with dry skin, sensitive skin, and even rosacea or eczema, it’s actually beneficial to shower (without soap) before jumping into the pool. When your hair and skin are already damp, they won’t soak up as much pool water, helping to protect against the chemicals present in the pool. You don’t need to cleanse; you’re just moistening the outermost layer of your skin and dampening your hair.

After showering, apply your daily face moisturizer and body moisturizer. This will help your dry skin to retain its own moisture, which will help prevent the drying effects of chlorinated water. It’s especially beneficial if you’re using a moisturizer with vitamin C, as topical vitamin C will protect the skin against sun damage with antioxidants while actually neutralizing the effects of chlorine!

Finally, don’t forget your SPF! A broad-spectrum sunblock is essential for all skin types. Broad-spectrum means it will protect against UVA (aging) rays, and UVB (burning) rays, keeping skin looking healthy and free of sunburn.

While Swimming
Swimming is hard work! Even though it’s low-impact on your joints and can make you feel calm and serene, your body is actually doing a lot to keep you afloat. Because of this, it’s extremely easy to become dehydrated.

You must remember to drink water while swimming! This will help prevent heat headaches, and will also keep your dry and sensitive skin hydrated from the inside out. Keep a water bottle at the edge of the pool, and drink it more often than you think you need to.

On a separate note, even though you’ve already applied a sunblock prior to getting in the pool, re-application is a must if you’re swimming for more than 30 minutes. The salt content of the ocean, as well as the chlorine in a pool, rapidly deplete your skin’s natural resources and quickly strip away your sunscreen. Take a couple minutes to re-apply your sunblock every half hour to prevent sun damage, as well as the over-drying of your skin. If you’re drinking enough water, you’ll need the break anyway.

After Swimming
Bathe as soon as possible in cool water. A cool shower will especially calm rosacea skin, which worsens when heated. Cleanse with your normal sensitive skin care products, and be sure to thoroughly wash and condition your hair as well.

If your skin feels especially depleted, whip up a quick face mask for dry skin and apply it to your damp, freshly cleansed face. A favorite is the easy combo of yogurt and honey, which is very moisturizing and gently exfoliating. If a face mask isn’t doable, simply re-apply your skin care moisturizer to your damp skin.

If somehow you’ve become sunburnt, be sure to use a soothing product that’s made to calm and comfort irritated skin. Pure aloe vera or cucumber juice are good choices in a pinch, but if you have dry or sensitive skin, a true skin care product is ideal. Atopalm’s new Intensive Face Moisturizer with Panthenol is perfect for use after swimming, as it helps diminish irritation from chlorine, as well as sunburn symptoms.

Finally, be sure to continue drinking water after swimming, as it will take a while to replenish your body’s lost moisture. You will feel the difference in your skin the next day if you don’t heed this skin care tip, so keep your water bottle full!

Some may find this advice to be over-the-top, but for those with truly dry, sensitive skin, following a version of this regimen will make a huge difference in the comfort and beauty of their skin.


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