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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

As the summer comes to an end 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.

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.

  1. MINERAL MAKEUP OF SEAWATER. https://web.stanford.edu/group/Urchin/mineral.html.

Comments

  • Linette Roungchun moderator
    5 months ago

    @jeff10broeck I’m so happy you’re able to enjoy water again! I assume you were not able to enjoy water activities too much before dupixent? I assume because that’s my current experience at the moment- as much as I loved to swim(my mother put me in swimming lessons as a child) I just can’t rationalize all that pain and itchiness for those few moments of happiness haha. But I’m moving in the right direction of healing(most of my body) so I will enjoy water eventually!

    With fresh water, I agree with you and assume the same about the bacteria. I’m not a doctor either but you don’t have to be a doctor to know that “fresh water” is dirty ha! By the way thank you for cracking jokes as you write. I can hear you laughing(as creepy as that sounds).

    As far as chlorinated- I have to agree. From weekly swimming lessons as I child, I always remember feeling incredibly dry and having to shower and moisturize like crazy right after.

    As far as salt water- your description makes me want to take a beach trip! Hmm maybe this is what my skin and soul needs. Over the past decade or so I’ve always waded in the water, but only up to my knees. Most of my eczema issues are on the top half of my body(except for my recent flare on my legs but don’t get me started on that) so maybe I need to take the plunge next time I’m out! Ever since I was a child, I always heard how great the ocean water is for you- but sometimes when you hear something so much, it kind of becomes white noise, you know? Maybe this is a tried and true remedy that I need to revisit, so thank you for bringing this to my attention!

    Great article, Jeff! I hope this encourages many other warriors to brave the waters as well!

    -Linette(AtopicDermatitis.net Moderator)

  • Jeff Ten Broeck moderator author
    5 months ago

    Hi, @linetteroungchun! I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I didn’t enjoy swimming in the water during my pre-Dupixent days, but rather, it was less enjoyable; especially when I was having a flare.

    It’s wonderful to hear that your skin is clearing up. Sometimes the healing process can be slow, but with persistence, you’ll get there. Keep up the great work!

    Right? A beach trip would be a welcome adventure. Yes, I highly recommend swimming in saltwater! I will say that your skin will likely burn for about 30 seconds once you get in, but the results will leave you glad that you did.

    Thank you for the kind words, Linette!

    – Jeff (AtopicDermatitis.net Moderator)

  • Linette Roungchun moderator
    5 months ago

    Ohh got it! Glad you were still able to enjoy the water 🙂 And thank you! Slowly but surely with some surprising detours along the way, but overall I’m still healing, and I choose to be grateful for that.

    Hope you’re having a GREAT Labor Day weekend and getting to have a dip in the water too,

    -Linette (AtopicDermatitis.net Moderator

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