There is a misconception that, because a swimming pool is sanitized with chlorine, that makes it safe and clean. Not to be a downer, but there are many reasons why swimming pools encourage pool goers to shower both before and after swimming.
It is bad to not shower after swimming because it takes some time for chlorine to kill the bacteria, germs, waterborne viruses, and other contaminants in the water, and therefore they can still linger on and harm your body if you don’t wash them off. Furthermore, chlorine itself can dry out your hair and skin and cause red rashes if not rinsed off. Even fresh water has plenty of harmful microorganisms that you need to rinse off.
Keep reading on to learn in more detail why you should always shower after swimming.
Why Showering After Swimming Is Important
Chlorine and Pool Chemicals
When you swim, your skin and hair are exposed to various chemicals, like chlorine, that are commonly used in swimming pools to keep them clean.
These chemicals can be harsh on your skin, causing irritation, dryness, and even allergic reactions. Despite these negative effects, we have no choice but to keep using them because there are currently no better pool sanitizers, so they are a necessary evil.
Showering after swimming helps you wash off these chemicals before they have a chance to cause damage. You’ll feel much more comfortable and your skin will thank you for it.
Bacteria and Germs
Swimming in natural water bodies, such as lakes, ponds, or rivers, exposes you to a variety of bacteria, germs, and other unseen contaminants.
Showering with warm water and soap after your swim helps you rinse off these germs and minimize your risk of developing skin infections or rashes. Plus, it ensures that you don’t spread any germs to your car, home, or belongings.
Parasites and Recreational Water Illnesses
While pools are usually treated with chemicals, they can still contain harmful bacteria, parasites, and other organisms.
Some of these, like crypto, E. coli, and giardia, can cause recreational water illnesses which range from mild to severe.
Showering after swimming reduces your chances of contracting these illnesses, as it removes the contaminants and pathogens from your skin’s surface and hair.
Effects of Not Showering After Swimming
Skin Irritation and Rashes
Not showering after pool swimming can lead to skin irritation and rashes. When you swim in chlorinated water, chlorine can stay on your skin even after you get out of the pool. This can cause dryness and irritation, particularly for those with sensitive skin.
Swimming in natural water bodies, such as oceans, lakes, or rivers, exposes your skin to germs, dirt, and even parasites. Rinsing off with warm water and soap helps remove these contaminants and reduce the risk of developing rashes or infections.
Chlorine and saltwater can also damage your hair, causing it to become dry, brittle, and discolored.
Washing your hair after swimming is essential to remove this buildup and protect your locks from long-term damage.
Use a chlorine removal shampoo and consider applying a conditioner to help restore moisture and keep your hair healthy and strong.
Increased Risk of Illness
Swimming exposes you to various germs, including bacteria, viruses, and even the parasite cryptosporidium.
These pathogens can linger on your skin and increase your risk of falling ill. By showering after swimming, you’re effectively washing away these microorganisms, reducing your chances of getting sick.
This is particularly important if you’ve spent time in a public pool or a crowded beach, where the risk of contamination is higher.
Always shower with warm water and soap after swimming, whether you’re at a pool, the ocean, or a lake, to maintain your skin and hair health and minimize your risk of illness.
Swimming in Different Water Types
Oceans and Seas
When you swim in oceans and seas, you’re exposed to saltwater which can also dry out your hair and skin. The high salt levels can leave your skin feeling dry, itchy, and tender after spending time in seawater.
Moreover, each ocean or beach visit exposes you to a different mix of organisms and salt levels. Showering after an ocean or sea swim is crucial to remove the lingering salt and microorganisms from your skin before they cause irritation or harm.
Lakes and Fresh Water
Swimming in lakes and other bodies of fresh water also comes with its own set of challenges.
Water quality in lakes can vary greatly, with some being affected by algae blooms, pollution, or fecal matter. These contaminants can irritate your skin and cause infections if not washed off properly.
Therefore, you should thoroughly rinse yourself with fresh water after swimming in a lake to minimize the risk of skin irritation and other health hazards.
Swimming pools contain chlorine to help maintain water quality and prevent bacterial growth.
While chlorine serves as an effective disinfectant, it can also cause skin irritation and dryness, especially for people with sensitive skin or allergic reactions to chlorine.
Additionally, showering after swimming is essential to wash off any residual fecal matter that may be present in the pool water.
By taking a shower after swimming in a pool, you can quickly remove chlorine and other contaminants that linger on your skin, keeping it healthy and irritation-free.
Preventing Issues Through Pre- and Post-Swim Showers
Showering Before Swimming
Showering before you dive into the pool is crucial for maintaining a clean and healthy pool environment.
When you rinse off using soap, you help to remove body oils, perspiration, and other contaminants from your skin.
This helps to reduce the number of germs and bacteria that you contribute when entering the pool, lessening the workload for pool chemicals like chlorine. Plus, you’re also protecting your fellow swimmers from sharing your germs.
Showering After Swimming
Now that you’ve done your part by showering before swimming, that doesn’t give you a pass on showering afterward as well. Except this time, you’re showering to help yourself, and I would hope that that is an even bigger motivator.
Post-swim showers are vital for several reasons:
- Removing pool chemicals: Washing off after swimming helps to remove chlorine and other chemicals from your skin. Prolonged exposure to these substances can lead to skin irritation and dryness, making it essential to wash them away as soon as possible.
- Warding off skin irritation: Chlorine and other pool chemicals can react with organic matter, such as sweat and urine, to create halogenated by-products. These compounds can cause skin irritation, rashes, and even respiratory issues. Showering after swimming helps to remove these harmful by-products from your skin.
- Reducing the risk of recreational water illnesses: Post-swim showers also help to prevent the spreading of waterborne illnesses by removing any contaminants that may have been picked up in the pool water. This means you’re doing your part to keep yourself and others healthy and safe.
With a quick shower before and after swimming, you’re taking essential steps to protect your skin, health, and the well-being of your fellow swimmers. Remember to keep up this simple yet meaningful habit for a more enjoyable and healthier swimming experience.
Risks to Swimmers with Specific Conditions
Hypersensitivity and Eczema
If you have hypersensitivity or eczema, not showering after swimming can aggravate your skin condition. When you swim in chlorinated water, it can lead to redness, itching, and an eczema flare-up.
Chlorine can be especially harsh on sensitive skin, disrupting the skin’s natural moisture barrier. So, rinse off the chlorine from your skin promptly after swimming to reduce the likelihood of any flare ups.
For those with asthma, be aware of the potential risks associated with not showering after swimming.
The inhalation of chlorinated water droplets can irritate the respiratory system, leading to asthma attacks in some cases.
Showering and rinsing the nose and throat with fresh water can help reduce the risk of inhaling chlorine particles and help maintain healthy airways.