Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.
Chlorine rash is the common name for a dermatologic reaction to chlorine. This article will discuss the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments of Chlorine rash. You can also find various pictures of how chlorine rash presents itself.
Chlorine intolerance vs chlorine allergy
A reaction to chlorine can present itself as a rash or red itchy skin. It may at times even appear with bumps. Rather than an allergic reaction, this is considered irritant dermatitis or a chemical burn. Another intolerance or reaction to chlorine can present itself as dry skin. An allergy to chlorine is usually presented as respiratory issues such as asthma. (1,2)
The following are specific examples of symptoms from chlorine allergy. These issues are not ever present in the case of intolerance or sensitivity. If you note these reactions please seek medical attention. :
- Breathing or respiratory issues.
- Swelling noted in the lips, tongue, or face
Chlorine rash cause and prevention:
Most Chlorine rashes are caused by hot tubs or swimming pools. In rare cases, the chlorine may be an additive in cleaners or insecticides. (1,2)
The cause may simply be too much chlorine in a pool or hot tub which causes the “burn” on the skin.
Often times a rash is caused by a bacteria called pseudomonas aeruginosa. This occurs due to poor pool maintance resulting in a low amount of chlorine being used in a pool or hot tub. Some other causes of this type of infection are, extended time in pools or hot tubs as well as too many people in the swimming area. (2, 4)
Ways to prevent chlorine rash:
- Ask pool or hot tub owners what the chlorine level is.
- Take off swimsuit and wash with soap and warm water after leaving the pool or hot tub.
- Wash your swimsuit after use in public swimming areas
- Avoid use of public swimming areas
- Check to be sure your swimming suite isn’t too tight.
- You can buy pool strips to check the PH and chlorine levels. Here is a quick list of adequate
- levels according to the CDC.
- Pools should show 1-3 ppm (parts per million)
- Hot tubs: 2-4 ppm
- Ph:7.2-7.8 (2, 3, 4)
Chlorine Rash Symptoms:
A dermatological sensitivity to chlorine may present itself as one of the following:
- Lesions or bumps on the skin surface.
- Skin redness
- Tenderness to the touch.
- Itchy irritated skin
- Hair follicles filled with pus
- Crusty or dry skin.
- The affected area may be where the swimsuit was covering the skin. (1,2, 8)
If untreated and an infection begins the following systemic symptoms may be noted:
- Achy body
- Tenderness near lymph nodes
- Red eyes (4, 8)
Diagnosis of Chlorine rash:
Diagnosis should be made by a doctor or an allergist. They will do a visual exam of the skin and ask you’re most recent activates. The rash usually occurs within 45 hours of chlorine contact. For this reason, your recent history of activities is very important.
It is also important to receive medical attention if you are not certain where your rash came from. Chlorine rash could be mistaken for any of the following issues:
- Bromide sensitivity (Bromide is often used instead of chlorine in pools and hot tubs)
- Bug bites
- Staph infection (1, 3, 4, 8)
If a severe allergic reaction is considered, a trip to the emergency room is needed. In general, treatment is to support the symptoms noted. If the reaction is only on the surface of the skin and not causing major pain then the following are common treatments:
- Wash the affected area well, preferably with hypoallergenic soap.
- If hives are noted then an antihistamine may be needed.
- Corticosteroids may be administered if there is a lot of inflammation of swelling noted. (2,3, 8)
There are also many home remedies that may be tried:
- Warm or cold packs may help relieve pain and or itching.
- Baths with corn starch can help sooth the itching.
- Fresh aloe vera or even aloe vera gel can be applied directly to the affected area. (3)
Why can Chlorine cause a rash?
Chlorine is a chemical similar to bleach. It is toxic gas that can be deadly when inhaled. It can cause severe problems. In pools and hot tubs, it is diluted to 0.2 parts per million (ppm) in order to be safe. (5, 6)
Why is my skin itchy after swimming in a chlorinated pool?
If your skin is itchy after swimming you may have a sensitivity to chlorine. The other option would be that the pool had too much chlorine in it.
Is a swimming pool rash contagious?
This depends on if the rash is due to a chlorine “burn” or due to a bacteria. If there is too little chlorine in the pool bacteria can grow in the water and cause infectious rashes that are contagious through the water. If the pool has too much chlorine and causes “burn” like symptoms this is not contagious.
Can pool chlorine give you a rash?
Yes if the level of chlorine is too high it can cause a burn type of rash on your skin.
Can chlorine make your skin itch?
Yes, a sensitivity to chlorine can cause itchy skin.
Can you get a rash from chlorine?
If you are sensitive to chlorine or if you are in contact with a high level of chlorine you can get hives, redness, and irritation to the skin.
Can you have an allergic reaction to bleach?
There are people who are allergic to bleach. In this case, the reaction is usually found as respiratory problems more than dermatological issues.
Can Chlorine cause chlorine diaper rash?
If a baby is swimming with a diaper on and the diaper is not removed quickly after leaving the swimming area then the chlorine from the water has prolonged exposure to the skin and can cause diaper rash.
Pictures of chlorine rash
Picture 1 : This image is showing the chlorine rash on the side of the abdominal area.
Photo Source : img.medscapestatic.com
Image 2 : This image is an example of chlorine rash on the buttocks.
Picture Source : img.medscapestatic.com
Picture 3 : This image shows chlorine rash on the abdominal area or the stomach.
Image Source : mddk.com
Figure 4 : Here you can see what chlorine hives would look like.
Photo Source : encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com
Image 5 : Here you can see chlorine rash covering a large section of the back.
Figure Source : encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com
Photo 6 : This image shows chlorine rash on the face near the ear.
Image Source : healthylifemed.com