A woman's hair is becoming the waves of a chlorine pool, with scalp eczema around her hairline.

Chlorine and Scalp Eczema Prevention

Last updated: August 2019

For my daughter, chlorine at appropriate levels in pool water and at water parks has shown to not be irritating to all of her atopic dermatitis. However, chlorine, at any level, can be harmful to her hair and scalp.

Chlorine dries out her hair

Chlorine can be extremely drying to coarse hair. Additionally, my daughter's hair texture requires added oils and moisturizing products as it does not produce very much oil independently. Chlorine strips her hair of its natural oils as well as the added oils and products in her hair which keep it moisturized. Chlorine also causes her to have a very dry and itchy scalp and can be a trigger for her atopic dermatitis in her scalp.

Avoiding scalp eczema

In efforts to prevent the chlorine in the pool water from triggering her atopic dermatitis in her scalp, I use hair oils prior to the swim adventures. My favorite hair oils include carrot oil and coconut oil. She also wears a swim cap in the pool to keep her hair as dry as possible. I also like to have her hair braided before swim times so that it fits and stays in the swim cap better and less water gets in her hair through the swim cap.

Washing out the chlorine

After her swim time, I wash her hair at the swimming pool shower, to get the chlorine out as soon as possible. I wash and condition her hair. Then I moisturize her hair with products that contain shea butter. Then I condition a second time. After I use a leave-in conditioner, I use oils such as carrot oil and coconut oil again. When I get home, I use more moisturizer and style her hair. The process is lengthy but it does protect her hair and scalp from the harsh effects of chlorine.

Alternative options

However, the additional washings each week can also strip her hair of oils and make her hair and scalp dry. Once a week or every other week are standard for shampooing so rather than going to the pool so many times that her hair loses all of it's natural and added oils, I try to find other alternatives for her.

Lower levels of chlorine

Other alternative options to prevent extra hair washing including choosing pools with very low levels of chlorine or pools with low levels of bromine.

Swimming in natural water

Another great alternative for me is going to natural water such as lakes, rivers, etc. I also sometimes let her swim in her own personal swimming pool so she doesn't have to worry about the chlorine levels at all.

Keeping her hair out of the water

At times, I have her stay in a flotation device so that her hair does not get in the water. Though this is less frequent because she likes to be fully emerged and involved with the water.

Splash pads

Another alternative option is splash pads. My daughter very much enjoys splash pads, likely even more so than pools because she is not as limited and can run around as she pleases and be more independent. I enjoy splash pads too because although her hair still gets wet, it is not under the water to the same extent as it is at the pool.

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