If you contend with acne breakouts, or even just the occasional zit, you may find yourself wondering how swimming in the pool affects acne. After all, chlorine, other pool chemicals, and frequent or prolonged submersion in the water are known for being pretty rough on your skin. On the other hand, many swimmers have experienced a reduction in acne after they hit the pool a few times.
So, how does swimming in the pool affect acne? As the apparent contradiction above indicates, the answer isn’t entirely straightforward.
How the Pool can Help Acne Problems
Yes, it’s possible that swimming in the pool can help prevent, minimize, or treat acne breakouts. Chlorine is a potent antibacterial agent, and bacteria happens to be one of the main ingredients needed for the formation of pimples. Also, the same drying effect the pool has on your skin can dry out your acne, speeding up how quickly it clears up.
How the Pool can Make Acne Worse
Swimming can also exacerbate acne woes. When your skin becomes dry and irritated—as it easily can from spending regular or extended periods in the pool—it triggers an increase in production of your natural skin oil. This is another key ingredient in pimples, and the oilier your skin, the more prone you are to developing acne.
It’s also worth noting that sunscreen can contribute to acne, which is a consideration if you’re swimming in an outdoor pool. Of course, zits are no excuse for skipping the sunscreen; it’s far more important to protect yourself against sunburns and an increased risk of skin cancer than it is to worry about some pimples. If you’re prone to breakouts, purchase sunblock that’s labeled “non-comedogenic,” which means it’s specially formulated to not clog your pores.
Protecting Your Swimmer’s Skin Against Acne
In addition to buying non-comedogneic sunscreen, here are some other simple ways to help minimize the negative affects of swimming in the pool as they pertain to acne breakouts:
- Limit how long you stay in the pool
- Time your swims so they occur shortly before you apply your regular anti-acne products and go through your daily anti-acne regimen
- After every swim, wash off with a gentle, moisturizing shower gel like Swimmer’s Own that removes harsh pool chemicals from your skin
- Don’t scrub your skin with a washcloth or loofah when you shower and limit exfoliation
- Using a clean towel, pat your skin dry rather than rub it
- Moisturize your skin after you swim and shower
- Talk to your dermatologist about topical acne treatments