It seems a little counterintuitive, but the more time you spend in the water, the drier your skin gets. Both the prolonged submersion and the chlorine and other pool chemicals strip your skin of its natural moisturizing oils and can cause other damage and irritation.
If you’re a frequent swimmer, you’re undoubtedly all too familiar with this problem. The dried-out, red, itchy, flaky, or cracking skin is a major drawback to one of your favorite activities. But it doesn’t have to be this way. With some basic care, dry swimmer’s skin is perfectly manageable.
Tips for Remedying Dry Swimmer’s Skin
No, you’re not doomed to a life of chronic dry skin from those regular dips in the pool. Use these tips to help keep your skin healthy, hydrated, and looking and feeling great.
- Quickly rinse yourself off as soon as you get out of the pool
- Keep your showers and baths to 10 minutes or less—remember, water exposure actually dries out the skin
- Shower in lukewarm (not hot) water, as hot water dries your skin out
- Shower only once per day, and skip days when possible
- Eliminate the need for a shower after every swim with Swim Wipes, which remove pool chemicals and their odors from your skin
- Don’t scrub yourself with a sponge, loofah, or washcloth, as this can damage, irritate, and further dry out your skin
- Use a gentle moisturizing soap or shower gel specially formulated for swimmers, like Soap+ or Swimmer’s Own
- Avoid antibacterial, scented, and deodorizing soaps and those made with lye, as these contain ingredients that act as drying agents
- Take an occasional lukewarm bath with about 2 cups of colloidal oatmeal mixed in
- Blot your skin dry rather than rub it with the towel, for the same reason as forgoing the washcloth
- Liberally apply a moisturizing lotion made for swimmers, like Moisture Therapy, once or twice per day as needed
- Apply your hydrating lotion or cream right after showering and drying off to lock in the moisture your skin absorbed
- Launder your clothes with a dye-free and fragrance-free detergent, as the chemicals in artificial colors and scents irritate and dry out many people’s skin
- Soak a washcloth in cold milk, wring it out, and lay it on particularly dry problem areas for about 10 minutes
- Sleep with a humidifier running in your bedroom, keeping your door and windows closed to hold in the atmospheric moisture; use it more often in the winter
- Take a multivitamin, as vitamins A, C, B6, E, and others are essential to maintaining healthy, hydrated skin
Ask your doctor about taking a fish oil, flaxseed oil, or other omega-3 fatty acid supplement to boost skin health and reduce inflammation