Protecting Yourself This Summer
Now that all area schools are out for the summer and the Memorial Day weekend is behind us, the hot weather is beginning to arrive. As of this writing, we have only reached 90 degrees a few times (April 3, May 5, 19, 29), and it has not yet reached 100 degrees. The average date of our first 100-degree day is July 1st, but it will be here soon enough. With the temperatures continuing to heat up, swimming pools use will increase. As swimming pools are being enjoyed this summer, it is important to try to prevent irritants such as eye and skin irritation, sunburn, and hair discoloration. Following is some information to help prevent some of these problems from occurring.
Eye & Skin Irritation
What causes this eye & skin irritation? We have been raised hearing the phrase “too much chlorine.” This is not usually the cause of eye or skin irritation in swimming pools. Most often eye and skin irritation are caused by one of the following:
- Incorrect pH – The recommended pH level for a swimming pool is 7.2 to 7.6. This level is fairly easy on the eyes and skin. However, if the pH gets outside of this recommended range, it can cause eye or skin irritation. Low pH tends to irritate the eyes and skin more than high pH does.
- Insufficient sanitizer levels – Although swimmers often complain that the chlorine is burning their eyes or irritating their skin, it is, in fact, usually a sign that there is not enough chlorine in the pool. When nitrogen and hypochlorous acid combine, chloramines (spent chlorine) are formed. These chloramines do not kill bacteria and the water smells bad, giving off a chlorine-like smell. In addition, these chloramines also tend to irritate the eyes. When this occurs, the chloramines must be oxidized by the use of chlorine or a non-chlorine oxidizer. So actually, when swimmers think that a pool has too much chlorine because it is burning their eyes or because of the odor, it is most likely that it needs more chlorine or a non-chlorine oxidizer.
Sodium tetraborate has been a very effective product to help eliminate eye and skin irritation, providing a silkier feeling water. It gets rave reviews from those who use their pool frequently.
Once eye irritation does occur, eye drops will usually provide relief for irritated eyes. To treat irritated skin, taking a shower and then using a moisturizing lotion will usually do the trick.
Sunscreen is rated by SPF, which stands for Sun Protective Factor. The higher the SPF, the longer the sun protection. Applying the sunscreen thoroughly and liberally is the key. Many times, we overlook the fact that we need a waterproof sunscreen for use in pools or if we are perspiring. This is a very important consideration and must be taken into account when selecting the correct sunscreen. Men with thinning hair should be extremely careful and apply sunscreen liberally to the top of the head or wear a hat. Sunscreen should also be applied to the top of the ears even when wearing a hat. Lips are another very sensitive area that should not be overlooked.
There are shampoos and other hair care products that help remove the chlorine and other pool chemicals from your hair. If you have hair that turns green, it is not, as many believe, from chlorine. For many years chlorine has been blamed for turning blonde hair green, but, as it turns out, the real problem is the copper in the water. If you are experiencing this problem, you should have your water tested. There are chemicals available at pool supply stores that you can apply to the pool water that help prevent green hair problems. Some everyday swimmers wet their hair with tap water before swimming, believing the pool chemicals won’t penetrate hair that is already saturated. To help remove much of the chemicals, it is also a good idea to rinse your hair immediately after swimming.
If after trying these tips you continue having eye, skin, or hair issues, consult your physician.
Have a Great Summer!