Ask Sara Ali Khan and she’ll tell you what you already know – swimming is a great exercise for the full body which also helps rejuvenate the mind. But what’s bothersome is that swimming in public pools can take a toll on your hair and skin and even cause skin burns.
Explaining why this happens, Dr Nivedita Dadu, Dermatologist, Founder and Chairman of Dadu Medical Centre, says, “In some public swimming pools, the pH levels of the water are not checked even once during the day. Checking the pH level of the swimming pool is an activity which has to be carried out every two hours to prevent damage to skin and hair. Chlorine in the pools can kill infection-causing germs, but it also damages the upper layer of oil, called sebum, that keeps the scalp and skin from becoming dry.”
Being exposed to chlorine in swimming pools can lead to flaky, itchy skin and sometimes skin burns, and for those with sensitive skin, may also cause rashes. So, Dr Nivedita advises taking adequate precautions to keep your skin safe from the harmful effects of, what is otherwise, a very fun activity.
Before hitting the swimming pool, fully moisturise your body. This helps prevent the drying effects of chlorinated water and protects against skin burns. Note that the chlorine and bleach in swimming pools can even aggravate severe skin problems such as eczema.
Use a swimming special body lotion or oils like olive oil, coconut oil or baby oil to create a protective barrier between the chlorine water and the skin to neutralise its absorption.
Before taking a dip in the pool, take a shower. This is important because dry skin will quickly soak up chlorinated water, and the chemicals will reach the deeper layers of the skin and cause more damage. Taking a shower first prevents the skin from absorbing a lot of chlorinated water. Also take a quick shower after swimming to rinse off chlorinated water.
Add vitamin C to your diet and skincare regimen. This powerful antioxidant helps protect the skin against UV damage. It can also help reduce sun tan by inhibiting tyrosinase, a melanin-producing enzyme in the skin which leads to skin darkening.
Apply a good quality sunscreen before heading out in the sun. Sunscreen protects the skin from UVA and UVB rays while swimming, and also forms a protective layer on the skin, preventing pool water from coming in direct contact with the skin and reducing the chances of getting a skin burn. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen at least 15- 20 minutes before stepping into the swimming pool and reapply every two hours that you’re out in the sun.
Use lip balm as spending long hours in chlorine-treated water can lead to cracked lips and bleeding.
Never rub the skin with a towel after swimming as the friction caused can disrupt the skin’s natural moisture barrier and also irritate the skin.
Avoid indoor swimming pools as these are, most often, not well ventilated and trap the gasses from the chemicals, which can exacerbate skin problems.
Keep your body hydrated to keep your skin soft and supple. Ample water intake also helps purify the skin by flushing toxins out.
Exfoliate your skin regularly to remove pigmented dead skin cells. This will also reduce the appearance of dark and dull-looking skin. For regular swimmers, chemical exfoliators containing hydroxy acids are a good option as they work by dissolving dead skin cells.
Your Guide To Treating Skin Burns Caused By Using Cosmetic Products
Whether you’re a skincare junkie or just someone looking for the best product for your skin troubles, picking the wrong one is absolutely possible. And this can do more damage to your skin than before! Dr Nivedita Dadu, dermatologist and Founder & Chairman of Dadu Medical Centre, says, “Skin burns are tissue damage that result from using the wrong cosmetic products. They can also be the result of overexposure to the sun or other radiation, or chemical or electrical contact. Skin burns can range from simple rashes to full-blown allergic reactions, and can cause different skin reactions to beauty products – irritant contact dermatitis happens when something damages the skin, while the other kind of reaction involves your immune system. Called allergic contact dermatitis, its symptoms can include redness, swelling, itching, and hives, and it makes the skin red and raw.” Note that skin burns due to cosmetics can appear on any part of the body, although they happen most often on the face, lips, eyes, ears, and neck.
Why Do Cosmetic Products Cause Skin Burns?
Skin care is important but over do it and it can lead to skin burns. Skin burns are generally caused due to fragrances and preservatives in skincare products. Even products that say they are ‘unscented’ can have a fragrance used to cover up chemical scents. This can cause an allergic reaction. Also, using the wrong cosmetics products can exacerbate an existing skin condition, such as dryness or oiliness. “If your skin is normally dry and tight, using too many acid-based products can make the situation worse. Using too many harsh products, like foaming cleansers, can lead to stripping off the skin’s protective acid mantle,” advises Dr Dadu.
How To Avoid Burns From Cosmetic Products?
- The first step of buying the right cosmetic products is understanding your skin well. “You need to identify if you have dry, oily, or sensitive skin. This is essential because the market is full with different cosmetic products that suit different skin types, and you need to pick a product that suits your skin type,” says Dr Dadu.
- Also keep skin concerns in mind. It will benefit you to check the ingredients list of products before purchase. Do remember that your natural skin plays a great role in deciding the result of any product you use.
- Know that the skin on different parts of your face varies – your lips and eyes do not have the same skin. So, if a particular brand’s foundation is good for your skin type, the lipstick from the same brand might not be good for you.
- Avoid products that dry out the skin or lead to acne issues.
- Try out different products to see which one sits well on the skin. Always do a patch test to see if any of them causes irritation or allergies.
- If you have sensitive skin, opt for beauty products specially formulated for your skin type. Look for products that have non-allergic ingredients. Even if you don’t have sensitive skin, such products can benefit your skin as they won’t cause any allergies or reactions.
How to Treat It
Use these tips to treat your skin burns, but be sure to consult a dermatologist immediately for severe skin problems:
- Stop using all skin treating products like retinol, salicylic acid or glycolic acid immediately as these ingredients can aggravate skin burns. Do not use any products meant to ‘fix’ or ‘treat’ any skin concern; stick to the basics of cleansing, toning and moisturising using gentle products.
- Skin burns due to usage of cosmetics products can directly attack the skin’s moisture barrier, which leads to sensitivity and irritation when disturbed. So, try to enrich your skincare routine with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, ceramides and squalene to restore the skin’s moisture barrier.
- Include skin-soothing ingredients in your skincare routine. Burnt and irritated skin needs doses of calming ingredients to soothe and reduce inflammation. Look for products infused with ingredients like aloe vera, centella asiatica, allantoin, bisabolol, and licorice root extracts.
- Since the skin is overly sensitised to sun exposure while healing, a broad-spectrum sunscreen will keep the skin protected from UV damage while it heals. So, always apply sunscreen after you finish your skincare routine.