General Health

Chlorine Rash: Allergic Reaction with Possible Severe Complications


This condition has different names: chlorine rash or allergy, swimming pool rash, etc. And though names are various, the symptoms and signs remain the same. It usually takes little time for the onset of first symptoms. When left neglected and untreated, they cause complications that are pretty troublesome. As it is obvious from the name, chlorine starts reacting with the skin cells and leaves its thin layer on the skin surface. This very layer causes the complications we want to talk about.

What Causes Chlorine Rash in Most Cases?

The condition of chlorine rash is normally associated with:

  1. individuals, whose professions and jobs are closely connected with the regular contact with chlorine. Such people often suffer from coughing, dermatitis, wheezing and rash development. They may also have lung injuries, respiratory system problems that develop with time. However, the severity of the condition and symptoms usually depends on levels of exposure to chlorine and some of its compounds;
  2. prolonged exposure to the compound. It usually makes the skin upper layer very sensitive. When a man is regularly exposed to this chemical substance, he becomes really vulnerable and often suffers from allergic rhinitis, asthma, hay fever, recurrent bronchitis and nasal irritation. When a child is affected, there are risks for developing infections in the airways and ears;
  3. people, who are associated with cloth bleaching industries, water treatment plants, chlorine production unites, etc. The same goes to people, who deal with swimming pool water cleaning or coloration.

Common Chlorine Rash Symptoms: What Are They?

Chlorine Rash

All symptoms of chlorine allergy can be divided into two groups: main and secondary ones. The first ones appear in all sufferers, while others either never appear or develop in time.

Main symptoms:

  1. redness;
  2. vision problems;
  3. eyelid swelling;
  4. tearing.

Eye irritation develops more often than any other symptoms. The sufferers compare the feeling with having dust or sand in the eyes. There’s a constant need to scratch eyes.

Secondary symptoms:

  • one’s skin becomes really dry and there’s much itchiness as chlorine allergy rash takes all natural oils. Affected skin areas start peeling off in the end;
  • prolonged exposure leads breathing problems or chest pain. Any of these conditions is serious and requires immediate medical help;
  • sneezing and coughing is experienced as well, because the nasal receptors try not to let harmful substances enter the respiratory tract;
  • airways irritation;
  • asthma or rhinitis;
  • bronchi inflammation;
  • hay fever;
  • digestive system problems (vomiting, abdominal cramps, burning sensation in the digestive tract);
  • lung disease.

Chlorine Allergy Complications

Today much is said about rash from chlorine. Yet not everyone knows about various health complications that are usually associated with the conditions. When the condition is taken for granted and never treated, it develops into:

  1. allergic contact dermatitis: the issue normally happens because of the immune system allergic reaction. While rash is the first stage, it soon develops into blistering and results in the occurrence of reddened patches in 2 days after exposure to the compound;
  2. reactive upper-airways dysfunction syndrome: in most cases the issue reminds that of chronic rhinitis that is triggered by exposure to irritants. A patient experiences sinusitis, rash and various breathing difficulties that require immediate medical assistance;
  3. reactive airways dysfunction syndrome: some people confuse the condition with asthma. In reality it is accompanied by airways inflammation, respiratory tract hypersensitivity, bronchial wall thickening, etc. Even a comparatively mild exposure to the chemical compound leads to breathing difficulties. If the treatment is timely, it can eliminate any symptoms and prevent complications.

What preventive measures can be taken by those, who are allergic to chlorine? As the rash mostly occurs after having a swim in a pool, it is important to be aware of the chlorine amount in the water. You also need to take off your bathing suit right after swimming to reduce possible contacts with the body.

Tips for Successful Chlorine Rash Treatment

Severe complications normally occur due to increased exposure to the chemical compound. When chlorine allergy rash is sore, red, itchy and causes discomfort, it is a simple mild case that is treated with simple home remedies and cold compresses. Some sufferers apply anti-itching creams that reduce some of the mentioned symptoms.


So, what do we suggest in cases of a mild allergic reaction?

  • cold compresses help in soothing the areas that were affected. They alleviate irritation. After using a compress, apply some hydrocortisone cream;
  • take a bath after a swimming pool session. This simple procedure will help get rid of various kinds of skin irritants;
  • when rash from chlorine appears after swimming in the pool, use special swimmers sprays. They protect the upper skin layers from the destructive effects of chlorine;
  • use special rubber pants for kids as they prevent them from urinating in water, thus helping keep water clean of bacteria;
  • use vitamin C spray after having a swim;
  • apply pre-swim lotion that is designed for chlorine rash prevention;
  • whenever an eye problem is experienced, rinse your eyes as well as the areas around them with plain water;
  • eye redness or dryness can be alleviated with the help of eye drops. Their regular use rinses both the eyes and the surrounding areas helping to get rid of ocular problems;
  • apply Vaseline to areas that are at a great risk for developing rash, redness and complications. Vaseline is a simple solution that protects vulnerable regions from infections and irritation;
  • any sort of inhalation of chlorine has to be remedied immediately. Go to the open area and breathe with fresh air;
  • corticosteroids are recommended in the form of creams. They help to forget about itchiness and inflammation;
  • mix some sugar and almond oil. Apply it to the damaged skin to reduce the itchiness;
  • apply some fresh Aloe Vera to your skin to help with basic rash symptoms;
  • apple cider vinegar applied to the skin helps to remove rash;
  • anti bacterial soap will help those, who are allergic to chlorine. It can be purchased over the counter to sooth rash and inflammation. And though the rash will surely remain for days or a week, no discomfort will be experienced;
  • if you are at a risk of developing rash OR you have already faced the condition before, you must avoid any contacts with the chemical compound and visit your doctor for treatment.

When allergic reactions are really severe, no homemade or over-the-counter remedy will be helpful. The condition requires antibiotics, especially when the rash is serious and no cream can eliminate it for good. Here are some topical antibiotics and well as systemic ones that are used when the rash is really bad or infected and must be cleared up:

  • Cefepime;
  • Gentamicin cream;
  • Ticarcillin;
  • Oral Ciprofloxacin;
  • Aztreonam;
  • Ureidopenicillins;
  • Aminoglycosides;
  • Polymyxin B spray;
  • Carbapenems;
  • Ceftazidime.

If severe cases are left untreated, chlorine rash develops and soon skin becomes brittle: it doesn’t stretch, but cracks and splits, thus becoming more open to all other infections.

During the treatment course it is recommended to stay away from the swimming pool as well as the locations where one can be exposed to chlorine compounds. When the condition is getting worse and no common treatment appears to be successful, one must seek immediate medical help. Professional checkup will help in find out an appropriate treatment option and prevent from further complications. As a result, the rash will ooze and one will notice changes of color.

They say that there’s no better cure than reducing the number of visits to the pool. However, many people don’t want to refuse from their habits just because of chlorine allergy. And they shouldn’t! Skin discomfort can be easily eliminated, if you know how. In time, people get used to the possible condition, so they usually have various creams and sprays with them to prevent the rash or treat it whenever it occurs. The pharmaceutical market offers such meds, so why not use them?