Woman stepping out of pool, wearing goggles wiping face with towel. Her skin looks to be made of sponge-like material.

Swimming With Eczema

I love swimming! I love to take the opportunity to enjoy the waves whenever I can. If swimming indoors, being in chlorinated water for an extended period of time can be very drying. Often my skin feels so tight afterward I can barely smile. But, it has not stopped me from enjoying the waters when I can. Here are some things that I do to make swimming more comfortable and enjoyable despite having eczema:

Moisturize before swimming

I have found it helpful to moisturize right before getting into the pool even if I've already moisturized that morning. Also, putting a layer of an oil-based balm over moisturizer can help seal in your moisturizer better and repel the chlorinated pool water to a degree. This may help maintain the most moisture from your serum and moisturizer and minimize the amount of stinging from the chlorine.

Length of time

Depending on how long you spend in the pool, it may eventually wash away to a degree. Having said that, I find that after swimming in chlorinated water for a while, I eventually don't notice the sting as much or even at all sometimes.

Moisturize after swimming

Either instead of or on top of the previous step, it's super important to moisturize immediately after swimming and rinsing off. Sometimes it has required two to three layers of moisturization and balm application for me to feel like I have something of a skin barrier intact before going back out to the elements.

Dry skin after swimming

When I was first taking swimming lessons in high school, I just went for it and did not even think of any consequences. And I found that for the most part, it slightly stung at first, but that, eventually, I would not feel any pain at all after a while and that it actually felt very good to be surrounded by water. It was just getting out of the pool, rinsing off and then feeling how dry my skin felt quickly afterward that would make me feel anxious and uncomfortable. But like I mentioned earlier, just moisturizing a lot afterward can eventually build up your skin barrier and moisture retention.

Swim in natural bodies of water

Also, there are also natural sources of water that you can try swimming in like lakes that are leech-free (be sure to do your research beforehand!) and of course the oceans. I have found saltwater does not sting me at all actually.

Swimming in saltwater

When I went swimming in Waikiki Island in New Zealand a few months ago, I was pleasantly surprised to find the saltwater very softening and soothing to my skin. I don't know if it actually helped any rashes, but it certainly didn't hurt anything at all. My eyes didn’t even sting which was the first thing I had expected. The only thing is, that once I the salt on my scalp dried up, it did feel a little bit itchy and I had to rinse that off back at my Airbnb.

You don't have to avoid swimming

Hope you found these tips and anecdotes interesting and useful! Know that just because you have eczema, it doesn't mean you have to be afraid of submerging your skin in the water forever!

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AtopicDermatitis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.