A figure is swimming in water with their toes above the surface, showing signs of eczema, while ocean life swims below.

My Water Preference for Swimming with Eczema

I have been reflecting upon all the great times I’ve had over the past few months. One activity that stands out is the time I’ve spent enjoying the water and beautiful weather with my friends. There are many types of water one can swim in but for the purpose of this article I will discuss the three I have the most access to: freshwater, chlorinated water, and saltwater. Follow me as I rank each based on my swimming preference.

Swimming in freshwater

I’m going to come clean (see what I did there?) I actually enjoy swimming in freshwater a fair amount. The reason why it’s on the bottom of my list is that I don’t receive an added benefit from swimming in it as I do with chlorinated water or saltwater. Freshwater is just… basic (I’ve got all the water jokes). Sometimes I find that my skin itches after bathing in a lake or river. Fortunately, this can easily be fixed with a shower afterward. I usually attribute this negative reaction to bacteria or allergens in the water. I’m not a scientist or doctor so that presumption could be completely inaccurate.

Swimming in chlorinated water

In terms of swimming, I find that chlorinated water is a double-edged sword. The major issue I have with it is it really dries out my skin. On the other hand, my skin tends to be less inflamed after I get out of the pool. I’ve realized that are a few things I can do to minimize the negative effects of chlorine on my skin. It is critical that I take a shower and clean myself with a gentle scent-free soap afterward. It is also extremely important to add moisture back into my skin to counter the drying effects of the chlorine. I recommend a cream or ointment as they tend to do the best job for me.

Swimming in saltwater

Saltwater is my absolute favorite. Yes, it can initially burn tiny cuts and scratches on my body, but once that pain wears off it truly becomes enjoyable to swim in. Not only is the buoyancy appealing, but the mineral-rich water (sodium, magnesium, chloride, sulfur and calcium)1 appears to have a therapeutic effect on my eczema. Oddly enough, I do not always feel the need to apply moisturizer to my skin after a swim as it becomes less inflamed and dry, smoother and overall, healthier-looking after bathing in the ocean. An additional benefit of swimming in saltwater is it does a great job of flushing the mucus and allergens out of my nasal passages. Typically, my eczema flares and allergies go hand in hand so it is nice to have the ability to kill two birds with one stone on my trip to the beach.

As you can see, each type of water has its advantages and disadvantages. Whichever variety you decide to swim in should be based on your preference and how it affects your skin.

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