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Arriving at the office with wide eyes isn’t the only way your morning swim session follows you to work. Itchy feet, scaly fingers, and rough skin can also be telltale signs of a swimmer — and no amount of lotion seems to cure dry skin after swimming, especially. is during the winter months. Bring what?

“On average, the normal pH of the skin is around 4.7 and chlorinated pools are slightly above 7,” says Dr. Anthony Rossi, Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College. “This can break down the covering of oil on your skin, called sebum, which acts as a moisture barrier.”

It’s not just chlorine that can wreak havoc on your skin. Spending a lot of time in any body in water, whether chlorinated, salted, or even taking a hot shower, can dehydrate the body. But for your dry skin after swimming, chlorine and other pool chemicals are the main culprits.

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“It strips our skin of the natural oils needed to keep moisture in,” says Dr. Chris Adigun of Chapel Hill’s Dermatology & Laser Center. “Overexposure to chlorine and water removes that oil barrier, leaving our skin dehydrated and inflamed. This is followed by a patchy rash or red, scaly skin that is often itchy or painful. If severe, blisters may develop.

This is compounded during the winter months, when cold climates lead to lower temperatures and drier air. “These conditions can dehydrate the skin through transepidermal water loss, leading to increased dryness,” says Rossi.

While there are many products on the market that claim to “pre-treat” your skin before swimming and prevent chlorine, Adigun says to save your money — if your skin soaks in chlorinated water, it will chemical exposure. , even if you apply lotion before diving. The trick to preventing and treating dry skin after swimming is to remove all chlorine residue as soon as you get out of the pool.

“The best way to prevent dry skin from exposure to chlorine in the pool is to shower immediately after swimming,” says Adigun. “After an athlete gets out of the pool, chlorine remains on the skin. The longer the chlorine stays on the skin, the more irritating it is. Showering immediately after will reduce the level of irritation experienced by the athlete. Thorough cleaning, ideally with liquid soap, body moisturizer, will effectively remove chlorine. ”

Rossi agrees, saying showering right after swimming and using a mild body soap are key to preventing dry skin. Avoid exfoliating agents, antibacterial soaps, and soaps that contain acids or enzymes, which can further inflame the skin; The same goes for vigorous scrubbing with a loofah or washcloth. After showering, pat skin dry with a towel (do not rub as this can cause irritation) and use a gentle moisturizer to restore skin and counteract the drying effects of chlorine.

If you’re experiencing recurring dry skin that doesn’t improve with moisturizer, or your dry skin is accompanied by itching, burning, rash, or blisters, you should seek the help of a dermatologist. “Not all dry skin is dry skin. There are many infections or even cancers that can resemble dry skin. Irritated or inflamed skin and accompanied by itching, redness, pain, or cracking are all signs of more clinical dermatitis,” says Rossi. “It’s best to see a board-certified dermatologist if problems persist or persist.”

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