Now that it’s summer and school is out, we’ve been spending a lot of time in the pool, which brings to mind a few common, minor health/hygiene issues that you may experience with chlorinated water: swimmer’s ear, dry skin caused by chlorine exposure, and green hair.
Your Hair Looks Green!
This non-medical issue is really more of an annoyance for people with color-treated hair or naturally blond hair. Actually, with fashion trends today it may not be an issue at all. But if you do have greenish hair and you want to get address it, there’s several home remedies available.
- Treat hair with baking soda. Mix baking soda in with your shampoo and wash your hair as you usually would. The baking soda should help eliminate the green tint after a few uses.
- Treat hair with Alka-Seltzer. Depending on the length of your hair, dissolve two to four tablets in water and use it instead of your shampoo. That greenish hue should be gone after several washes.
- Treat hair with white vinegar. Mix water and vinegar and rinse hair. This treatment is believed to work because it adjusts the PH of the hair back to more normal levels after swimming in a pool. Cider vinegar also works well.
If prevention is more your style you can use a commercially made product designed to protect you hair. These work by sealing the hair cuticle so that the chemicals found in pool water (mainly chlorine) can’t affect your hair. You can ask your stylist what he or she recommends. If that route seems a little pricey to you, as specialized products can tend to be expensive, you can also simply wet your hair with tap water and they spray on a leave-in conditioner. That should work to seal the cuticle the same way a specialized product would.
My Ear Hurts!
First a disclaimer: This is a medical issue. If you are experiencing anything with your ears that is unusual for you, i.e.: pain, itching, drainage, loss of hearing, please see a doctor for treatment. Most home “remedies” are actually preventative measures and should only be used as a treatment if you are not able to see a doctor quickly.
Swimmer’s ear is usually caused when water that contains bacteria enters the ear. While it is usually a bacterial infection, it can also be caused by a fungus and on really rare occasions a virus. If you have had swimmer’s ear in the past, you are more likely to have it again. So let’s prevent that from happening if we can.
- Dry ears after swimming or bathing. An easy way to do this is to use a hair dryer on the lowest setting dry your ears.
- Don’t stick things in your ears. My dad always told me never to stick anything smaller than my elbow in my ear. That includes cotton swabs and fingernails.
- Use preventative ear drops. Mix a solution of half white vinegar and half rubbing alcohol and put a few drops in your ears after swimming or bathing. If you don’t want to make your own, they can also be purchased.
- Wear earplugs. These can be purchased over-the-counter at most stores.
My Skin is Dry and Itchy!
First a disclaimer: This can be a medical issue. If you are experiencing a rash or sever skin irritation please see your doctor. Eczema and other skin conditions can sometimes be caused or aggravated by swimming.
Dry, itchy skin caused by swimming has a technical name: swimmer’s xerosis. Who knew, huh? This skin irritation happens when moisture is pulled out of the skin after extended periods in the water, and is often exacerbated by heated pool water and a hot shower after swimming as hot water also pulls moisture from the skin. Finally, the chemicals in the water can also have a drying effect on the skin as well.
- Shower after swimming. Rinse the chemicals from the pool water off your skin. Keep it fast and luke-warm to keep moisture in your skin and use a gentle cleanser or moisturizing soap to reduce irritation.
- Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize. After each shower (or bath if you do that) use a moisturizing lotion or cream or oil. Apply it while the skin is still damp.
- Lock in moisture, lock out water and chemicals. Before swimming, take care to apply more moisturizer. While one article I looked at recommended using petroleum jelly or mineral oil before getting in the pool, I’m not sure that’s a good thing to put in a pool. I think I’d go with something like Eucerin Cream.