Discussions By Condition: Allergies

Eczema irritated by Chlorine?

Posted In: Allergies 5 Replies
  • Posted By: Anonymous
  • September 11, 2008
  • 01:08 PM


I have been asthmatic (controlled) pretty much since birth. Apparently I had a latex allergy when i was younger, but little/no obvious sign of it now (but I rarely come into contact with latex). Other than that I have no real history of Eczema... until recently.

Basically I seem to have two main areas affected: my hand (inbetween my fingers and my palms) and my groin area (both within the hairline and on the more sensitive skin areas - I am female).

I have seen my GP, she has checked it out, she has ruled out infections/lice/"anything nasty". She says that it is "just the way you are" - i.e. since I am asthmatic, I am also prone to eczema (even though I haven't suffered from it before). That my skin will have "good times" and "sensitive times" and that I am going through a sensitive time now...

By a process of elimination and self-observation, I THINK that I narrowed down one of my biggest and most frustrating irritants to Chlorine. This reaction started about 9/10 months ago (I may have had a LITTLE before, but nothing as noticeable or as prelonged as this): the problem wasn't around 12 months ago, because I had a couple of holidays around that time, swam in pools quite a bit and didn't have a noticable reaction.

In the past 9/10 months, the times that I have had a reaction have been in the shower (hands), in the pool (hands) and after I exercise (I think that the sweat irritates the rash in my groin area and just makes it horribly itchy).

The reaction on my hands is quite amazing: they go from smooth, normal hands, to very rough, thick, dry feeling and - sometimes - on the verge of cracking. When they dry again (without medication and within an hour), they are virtually back to normal (I may or may not be left with a little bit of shedding skin between my fingers - depends how irritated they get). I guess that goes to the theory that the "hardening/thickening" around my fingers/palms are little blisters/rash that settles down pretty much as soon as the irritant has gone. The rash in the groin area seems more constant, but normally only becomes really irritated when I get hot/sweaty: either in a hot climate or during/after exercise (unfortunately I generally exercise for an hour or two five times a week... not something I want to decrease!). I am not overweight (I have exercised 4/5+ times a week for the past 15 years or so).

The affects are a LOT more marked if I go into a chlorinated pool or waterpark (I do this on holiday only - I don't tend to swim otherwise). Our household water supply is chlorinated (obviously not as much as a pool!) by our local water supply company: that is why I think I am having problems in the shower.

A few other things that I have noticed is that if I go swimming in the sea (salt water, obviously, not chlorinated), then I do not get this reaction. Also if we go away and stay somewhere else, then - providing I don't swim - my symptoms also seem to reduce markedly... I assume this may be because some areas have a chlorinated supply, others do not...

My GP has given me some Hydrocortisone cream - mainly for the groin area - but this is a bit of a pain. She says "put a little bit on", but it is hard to put a "little bit on" your groin area because it gets soaked up by the pubic hair before it gets near the irritated skin.... I almost wondered if removing the hair completely would be a good thing (i.e. easier to apply cream and might get less sweaty/irritated there in the first place), but I assume that hair removed might further irritate the irritation... :(. The cream helps a little.

So, I am currently stuck in an area with chlorinated domestic supply, that seems to effect my skin. Has anyone else experienced this? I see very little to support that it is common on the web... some people do seem to react to the chlorine in pools, but generally not the same as I do (i.e. they get snifflely) and I haven't seen a link made between chlorinated household supply and eczema...


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