I’ve read that I should always shower after swimming – but why?
It may be that you are pushed for time, or want to spend every last minute you can in the swimming pool or, for your own personal reasons, you prefer not to shower after a swim – but did you know that not showering can have a detrimental effect on your health?
Swimming pools are chlorinated, simply meaning that the chemical chlorine is added to the water. The reason for this is straightforward: chlorine, acting as a disinfecting agent, kills off various bugs and bacteria that can be harmful to us if not correctly managed.
Swimming is a wonderfully healthy, refreshing, low-impact way to exercise but, because swimming pools are shared by a great number of people over the course of a day, they are unavoidably full of contaminants that end up in the water when swimmers enter the pool.
Of course, the best way to minimize this as much as possible would be for everyone using a pool to take a shower before entering the pool - but humans being humans there will inevitably be many that won’t! In fact, it’s estimated that as many as 40 percent of people don’t bother showering before a swim.
Although chlorine helps in no small way to get rid of the potentially harmful viruses and bacteria, even if added to a pool in large amounts (which would be dangerous in itself) it cannot possibly kill everything. The warmish water in a swimming pool is a hotbed for certain germs and parasites that have evolved a degree of resistance to chlorine, such as the nasty cryptosporidium which, if ingested, causes debilitating gastric issues.
So, as chlorine can only do so much to clean the pool’s invisible contents to keep us safer, it’s also up to us to play our part in staying healthy by routinely showering both before and after a swim. Apart from the bugs in a swimming pool, consider that other organic contaminants from swimmers’ bodies are also circulating and, even in a well chlorinated pool, are omnipresent in the water; even leaving the chlorine issue aside, it’s worth everyone taking that all-important shower before getting into the pool.
How does showering before swimming help me?
There’s another benefit to showering before a swim, one that’s more beneficial to you as an individual, rather than to the community! If you shower thoroughly before getting into chlorinated water, you’re reducing your risk of chlorine affecting your sensitive skin. Soaking your hair and skin in clean, plain water means that you absorb less of the irritating chlorinated water your skin can react badly to.
And if you shower and then also apply a barrier oil or balm, you’re doubling down on your skin’s defences!
Will I get sick if I don’t shower after a swim?
Although it’s important to shower off any residual bugs that might have got through the chlorinated neutralising process, it’s most important to shower the chlorine off your skin to prevent damage from those harsh pool chemicals.
Using your preferred non-irritant soap and shampoo (Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash is ideal) you need to shower right away. Shower until you can’t smell the chlorine on your skin. As vital as its addition to a swimming pool is, leaving it on your skin following a swim is not a great option, especially as doing so can cause the obviously named and potentially serious chlorine rash.
Not removing chlorine can make your skin (and hair) dry out, stripping the natural, protective oils from your skin and leaving you itchy and dry, particularly if you’re already prone to sensitive skin.
Other than feeling itchy, chlorine rash can manifest itself visibly in the form of scaly, crusty patches; hives, tenderness and swelling. To prevent it occurring, get into the routine of showering each and every time you go to the pool, both before and always after a swim!
For more information, see our blog What’s The Best Natural Treatment For Chlorine Rash?
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If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
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