Chlorine allergy: symptoms, causes, treatment and prevention

Suffer with a chlorine allergy? John Wood explains how you can minimise the symptoms so you can enjoy your pool swim

John Wood explains how to treat a chlorine allergy

According to various medical sources, strictly speaking you can’t be allergic to chlorine, but you can definitely be sensitive or react to it. Reactions can include red skin, scaling, tender skin or small bumps/hives. You may also cough or sneeze, although this could be due to underlying breathing issues.


Seeing a doctor is probably advisable, especially if you’re having real issues breathing. But failing that there are various things that you can get over the counter to help. For your breathing, you can wear a nose clip – this will minimise the chlorine getting to all your breathing tubes. For your skin, take a shower before and after you swim: sweat, deodorants and moisturisers can react with chlorine. If your skin irritation is confined to a small area, vaseline can act as good barrier. In more widespread cases, you might be able to get corticosteroid or antihistamine creams.

Try spending a couple of days/weeks out of the water and see if the symptoms subside. Everything healing might make life easier and remove your irritations.

Another alternative is to find a pool that isn’t treated with chlorine. Some pools are treated with UV light and other different cleaning agents – google pools in your area for options.


More swimming ailment and injury advice

Swimming-induced pulmonary edema: what it is and what to do if it occurs

How to prevent motion sickness and nausea when swimming

Swimmer’s shoulder: what causes it, and three exercises to treat it

How to spot and help someone in trouble when swimming

How to manage Raynaud’s Syndrome when open-water swimming