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Will swimming in a pool trigger my child’s eczema?

Chemicals used to disinfect swimming pools can irritate the skin. It’s best to keep your child out of pools when your child has any of the following:

  • Itchy, red, and oozing skin

  • Skin infection

  • Open sore or raw skin

  • Severe eczema flare

Pools can dry skin

Pool chemicals can dry the skin. With a few precautions, however, most kids who have eczema can enjoy the pool

child swimming. Pool chemicals can dry the skin.

At other times, kids who have eczema can enjoy the pool. To prevent pool water from triggering a flare-up, dermatologists recommend the following:

  1. Before your child gets in the water: Apply your child’s moisturizer or a layer of petroleum jelly to all of your child’s skin.

  2. Immediately after swimming: Thoroughly rinse your child’s skin with a warm (not hot) shower or bath.

  3. Within 3 minutes of rinsing: Gently pat your child’s skin with a towel, leaving a little water on the skin so that it feels damp. Apply your child’s moisturizer to damp skin.

Although pool water can dry the skin, some kids feel better after being in the pool. Rinsing and moisturizing are still necessary.

Additional related content

Abramovits W. “Atopic dermatitis.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2005 Jul;53(1 Suppl 1):S86-93.

Sidbury R, Tom WL, et al. “Guidelines of care for the management of atopic dermatitis. Part 4: Prevention of disease flares and use of adjunctive therapies and approaches.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014 Dec;71(6):1218-33.

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