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Chlorine Allergy - Do you have one?

Updated on December 13, 2016

Most of us are exposed to chlorine on a daily basis. It is a popular disinfectant and is also used in the making of paper products, plastics, pesticides and PVC. A few common uses for chlorine are:

Tap Water- disinfectant

Chlorine Bleach and other household detergents and cleaners - Whitens whites, disinfects clothes and surfaces

Swimming pools - disinfects, sanitizes, keeps water from getting cloudy and helps to prevent algae from forming on the surface

Sucralose - Chlorinated sugar (most popularly sold as Splenda)

Insecticides - Yes this stuff can kill bugs as well as people

Chlorine Allergy Symptoms

With so many opportunities for exposure, many of us are bound to have an adverse reaction of some kind. But how do you know if your allergic? For the most part, those with a true chlorine allergy will experience the following:

Difficulty breathing in or out

Tightness in chest

Pain or pressure in chest

Persistent or uncontrollable cough

Difficulty or inability to talk
Feeling anxious or panicky

Other symptoms associated with having an asthma attack

These symptoms are very serious warning signs. If you are experiencing any of the above, treatment immediately. Be sure to tell the medical personnel exactly how you were exposed. The type of treatment you will receive is dependent upon the type of exposure you experienced.

Chlorine Intolerance Symptoms

True chlorine allergies are rare. Other, less severe symptoms are indications of a chlorine intolerance or sensitivity. They are as follows:

Eye irritation - red, watery, itchy

Severely dry and/or itchy skin

Red, itchy rash

Headache

Nausea

Chlorine Allergy Relief

The best way to avoid these symptoms is to avoid chlorine. Sometimes that's not possible, but you can, at least, minimize your exposure.

Invest in home water filters.

Non-chlorine bleach, oxygenated cleaners, and even natural home remedies like vinegar can be used to whiten and disinfect clothes.

Shower before you enter a pool to rinse off anything that might react with the chlorine. Wear a swim cap and goggles. Apply a good body lotion or cream like the afore mentioned before you get in the water. This will keep your skin from absorbing so much chlorine and minimize skin irritation later. Immediately after leaving the pool, rinse yourself off thoroughly using cool water. When you get home, bathe with a moisturizing soap and water. If chlorine was in your hair, cleanse with swimmers shampoo. Apply lotion.

Despite some of your best efforts you may still find yourself suffering from of the symptoms above. See a doctor, or more specifically, an allergist about a possible chlorine allergy. Even if it turns out to be a chlorine sensitivity instead, you'll still need something for your skin. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, they may recommend over-the-counter allergy relief products or prescriptions. Here's a list of some allergy relief products that have worked for other people:

Benadryl

Calamine Lotion

Hydrocortisone cream

Eucerin - Original crème

Aquaphor - Healing ointment

Oatmeal baths - store bought or homemade


As stated earlier, chlorine is used in so many different ways and places. It may seem impossible to avoid. However, with diligent research and some precautionary measures, you can definitely be more comfortable in your own skin.

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    • profile image

      Ann 

      3 years ago

      I get horrible headaches and nausea after swimming. It’s been this way ever since I was a child. As a kid I took swim lessons once a week until I was around twelve, and I spent most of the summer in my friend’s pool. And without fail an hour or two after I got out of the water I ended up curled in a chair with a migraine, burning red eyes, and feeling like I was going to throw up. As a kid I just dealt with it because I loved to swim. As I got older I just stopped swimming. Today I got in my pool and swam. And like always I was fine while swimming. But this afternoon, like clockwork I ended up curled in bed with a headache and wanting to puke. I guess I’m just severely intolerant to chlorine. I love to swim and I wouldn’t mind swimming regularly. But every time I do I end up feeling absolutely wretched. I know it’s the chlorine because I can swim in lakes, rivers, and oceans just fine. Sometimes wearing goggles will alleviate the symptoms. I’ll still get a headache and feel slightly sick to my stomach but it’s not generally incapacitating pain. Sometimes even that doesn't help though.

    • profile image

      Kathy 

      4 years ago

      We have a salt water pool and within 15 minutes of being in the water my palms start itching my skin starts turning red and I have to get out and shower with soap and wAter the pool has been tested a retested the pH is correct and everything else is right with the pool. Please HELP I WANT TO BE ABLE TO STAY IN MY POOL Longer than 15 minutes!!!

    • T R Upshur profile imageAUTHOR

      T R Upshur 

      4 years ago from United States

      The reaction that your husband had was more like a chemical burn. Many people have this reaction. Personally, I would start with the dermatologist. His skin needs help now.

      No, it's not rare to have a reaction to chlorine at all. I always find it harder to breathe when I'm near a pool and bleach vapors make my nose burn. Most folks just deal until it becomes too much. No one ever tells us how toxic chlorine really is. We usually have to find out the hard way.

    • profile image

      lyndag 

      4 years ago

      my husband and I put a pool in last year and he beagan to break out in hives. then he gets a job at a produce station using chlorine and he got hives. whenever he would empty the basket in our pool, his hands would look like they had been dipped in acid. we have over t he last year come to realize that he has a chlorine allergy. what can we do. no insurance. one doctor recommended a dermatologist but I think he needs to see an allergist. comments please. and yes it's rare but some people are allergic to chlorine.

    • T R Upshur profile imageAUTHOR

      T R Upshur 

      5 years ago from United States

      I always find it harder to breathe just being near a pool. Many cleaners explicitly state to "do not inhale vapors" and to "use proper ventilation" while using. Doing the bootcamp 3 times a week plus the bleach cleaner at home was clearly the tipping point for you. Try doing the bootcamp twice a week (actualy sounds like fun) or find an alternative. Try using natural household cleaners like the ones found here: https://hubpages.com/misc/Natural-Household-Cleane...

      Chlorine comes in many forms and has many uses, many of which are toxic. It's used to kill germs, mold and insects. At one time, it was even used to kill people.

      Chlorine also chemically reacts to water. Saline in your eyes and mucous in your nose, throat and lungs are water based. As you've already discovered, it can wreak havoc with all of these areas. The title of this article may be "Chlorine Allergy" but it's really a toxic reaction.

    • profile image

      Pamela 

      5 years ago

      I have been taking an amphibious bootcamp which consists of exercising outside of the pool and inside the pool doing strenuous speed laps for 1 hour. Recently I had a breathing reaction where I had a lump in my throat and couldn't catch my breath, had pain in my chest and throat was on fire. My eyes started itching the minute I walked into the pool (enclosed). My skin is extremely dry when I leave the pool and my eyes (even with googles) are red for two days.... I was taking this class 3 days a week for the past month and 1/2 and until I started using a bleach type cleaner at home it bothered me a little. Is this an allergic reaction due to too much of the chemical in my system? It scared me enough that I have not been back to my class in3 weeks

    • Mom Kat profile image

      Mom Kat 

      5 years ago from USA

      Whenever anyone uses chlorine bleach or a cleaning product which contains chlorine or chlorine bleach I get an instant sinus headache. My eyes itch a little, but the headache is beyond noticeable. It's really the only "symptom" I have, but it knocks me off my feet. I have to leave the area immediately and take an anti-inflammatory medication of some kind to get the swelling of my sinuses down for the headache to go away.

      I don't know if that is considered an allergy or just a sensitivity but it's painful whatever it is.

    • profile image

      Reese 

      7 years ago

      Today I actually found out that I could have died if I didn't go to the hospital. For a gym class for our ciriculum we had to go swimming for the week before and this one and after school yesturday night I went swimming with a bunch of friends and I got home and had a shower but u noticed when I was putting body wash on it started to really burn so I had to finish off with water and shampoo bubbles. When I got into bed I was a little sire because the rash I got was getting irritated and so I fell asleep but then I woke up at 3:00am and itchy and really uncomfortable so that night I got very little sleep. Then when I was wakeubg up for school I couldn't walk because my legs were blistered,, red,, itchy,, in some spots bleeding ! When I got out of bed to get ready for school I couldn't walk it hurt to much when my skin was rubbing together and when I bent down to get me slippers it hurt so much because the part on the other side of my knee was puffy and swollen and u couldn't walk so I had to sit down but then I went to the hospital with my friends mom because she is like a second mom to me and when we got there the doctor said if I would have came next week or maybe even tomorrow I could have went into somekind of shock and died. I don't really wan to die being a 14 year old girl dieing because of chlorine. And I absoulutly love swimming when I was little that's all I could do I never wanted to get out of the lake or pool but now I can never go in a pool ever agin, I can only go swimming two months a year and it is terrible that I have to live Like this. But this is a unique allergy and I hope I can avoid all hazardous and dangous thibgs that could harm or possibly kill me. And to all of the people that have they same thing that's worse or not in sorry that you have to go through it but that's what makes you unique and that's what makes life!

    • D.Virtual.Doctor profile image

      Funom Theophilus Makama 

      7 years ago from Europe

      I think, I agree with Pool chemicals. Chlorine allergies is one of the rare clinical case I have heard of. I need to do more search on it...

    • profile image

      Karen Reader 

      8 years ago

      Try bromine if you are sensitive to chlorine. It is less harsh, and around the same price.

    • profile image

      Pool Chemicals 

      8 years ago

      Very interesting hub! I have never heard of this. Thank goodness that my family does not have this, because we spend our entire summer practically living in our pool. Thanks for sharing. I will know what to look for when guest come over to swim.

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