Do you ever have itchy, irritated, red or dry skin after a shower or swimming? Maybe you even need to avoid pools because chlorine worsens a condition such as asthma, dermatitis or eczema. If you have to experience these problems, there’s a chance you’re having a reaction to chlorine. This is known as chlorine allergy. How do you tell if you or a loved one has allergic symptoms to chlorine?
It’s known by that name, and it can lead to serious effects, but there isn’t actually an allergy or allergies with chlorine. Instead, the fumes from chlorine’s reaction with water cause allergic reactions.
Why is Chlorine Used?
Chlorine is a natural chemical element. It’s used for many functions. The most typical usage most think about is in swimming pools and drinking water.
Municipal water systems use chlorine for disinfecting water. It sterilized sewage and waste to make water safe. Likewise, pool owners and operators use chlorine to clean and disinfect pools. Without it, pathogens such as cholera, dysentery, typhoid and more waterborne illnesses would be in pool water.
However, if you take showers in chlorine-treated water, especially hard water, or spend time in a swimming pool, then have symptoms or signs of chlorine sensitivity or reactions, you know it’s a problem. It can be a larger problem for people with other underlying or existing allergies.
Chlorine is also used in many products and goods, many of which are common, everyday things we use. Chlorine is used in paper and cloth manufacturing. It’s an ingredient in cleaning products, bleach, salt, pharmaceuticals, PVC pipes, plastic, car parts, seat cushions, solvents, pesticides, polymers, rubber and refrigerants.
How Chlorine Exposure Happens
The risk of chlorine reactions relies on your exposure, the concentration of the chlorine fumes or gas and other factors such as weather and how quickly you can wash or dissipate the chlorine.
If chlorine gas is in the air, people who are sensitive to it might have skin or eye irritation. It’s also possible to have respiratory problems by breathing in fumes.
Chlorine can enter the body by food or water. It can be absorbed, as in via a shower. More potential paths of exposure include from industrial areas, a spill of chemical material or even in a terrorist attack.
What is “Chlorine Allergy”?
Chlorine allergy is considered a type of an allergic reaction where symptoms can be delayed from after the first exposure to the actual substance. Because of this, when a reaction or symptom becomes apparent, it’s difficult or even unknown to tell chlorine was the cause.
A reaction to chlorine gas or fumes is more likely for people who have skin sensitivities, other allergies or other nasal or respiratory factors. Chlorine may exacerbate signs and symptoms which already affect someone. Studies have shown it’s likely more use of pools or chlorine products can worsen allergies, asthma symptoms and other issues in adults and children.
When someone enters or is in close proximity to a pool, more especially an indoor pool, they could inhale and feel a bad burning feeling in their chest and lungs. This happens as the chlorine reacts with matter in the water, forming a gas, and the gas is inside the person’s respiratory system. This can burn on its own or exacerbate other symptoms.
Chlorine, especially in higher levels, can hurt sensitive skin. Warm or hot water plus chlorine, as can often happen in showers, is absorbed more by the body’s pores. This creates more of a reaction.
Another reason for allergic reactions with chlorine is because of chloramines. Chloramines come from chlorine’s reactions to impurities such as oil, urine and sweat in water. Chloramine can also be released into the air, so the odor of chlorine in and near a pool is actually the chloramine working to disinfect the water.
Symptoms of Chlorine Exposure
People can have one or many different symptoms to chlorine exposure. It may be easy or difficult to know if someone is having effects from chlorine or chloramines. Here are some of the potential symptoms.
- Eye inflammation
- Constant coughing
- Respiratory difficulties or failure
- Skin irritation
- Neurological troubles
How to Help and Treat Someone
If you think someone is suffering from a serious chlorine allergic reaction, such as respiratory trouble, look for medical help immediately. If situation is less serious, or if help isn’t available right away, there are some products or things to try.
Skin sensitivity reactions are usually able to be washed with clean water to alleviate the reaction. You want to rinse and wash the area until the irritants are gone. There are over the counter drugs which can help against rashes, redness, dry skin and irritation. Here are a few OTC products which can help with a chlorine allergy.
- Topical Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
- Emollient lotions and also creams
If OTC drugs are not giving you good results, some natural remedies or methods include:
- Aloe vera
- Apple cider vinegar
- Sodium bicarbonate
- Coconut oil
- Oatmeal bath
- Tea tree oil or various other plant-based oils
- A wet, cool compress
- Avoid scratching
Keep in mind, before applying any one of the treatments listed above, make certain to wash your hands thoroughly with clean water and completely dry your hands. You can additionally wear gloves to protect your hands and stop more inflammation of the skin.
South End Water Filtration specializes in HALO Water Filter products including the HALO H2 Zero Whole Home Water Filter. We’re just a click away to help and answer any questions. South End Plumbing and South End Water Filtration will give you a free estimate. Call us at 704-486-1988 or contact us online to schedule a visit.