In an interview, Soma Mandal, MD, a board-certified internist at Summit Health in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, stated, "The skin barrier, known as the acid mantle, is responsible for keeping in moisture and essential lipids and blocking the bad stuff, like bacteria, pollution, and toxins. When the skin is too alkaline, the skin becomes drier and sensitive. These conditions make you more sensitive to developing eczema." Swimming in pool water, the article added, may affect the pH level of skin and dry it out.
In an article in Clinical & Experimental Allergy, calcium in hard water may damage the skin barrier and increase dryness and irritation. Dr. Mandal noted that pools with calcium buildup are more likely to impact individuals who have eczema. Additionally, chlorine in pools is associated with skin dryness and may exacerbate eczema symptoms. Other research indicates that the salt in ocean water may irritate the skin of some people with eczema, whereas others with the condition may find it soothing for the skin.
Dr. Mandal also stated, "Skin barrier creams are very effective for eczema because they are infused with lipids and ceramides. These are naturally occurring substances on normal, healthy skin. These substances help lock in moisture and allow eczematous skin to heal faster. They also decrease itching and dryness." She added, "If you have eczematous skin, then make sure to cover up with UV-protective clothing that has a SPF rating of 50+."
Finally, Dr. Mandal noted that it is critical to always protect the skin from ultraviolet (UV) rays when outdoors and to take a bath or shower after swimming and gently pat the skin dry and apply a moisturizing cream or ointment to the skin.
The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Reliance on any information provided in this article is solely at your own risk.
« Click here to return to Dermatology Update.