Skincare Tips For Summer Swimming Amid COVID-19

By Susie

  • With summer swimming plans ahead, we investigate the impacts of COVID-19 in water and how to take care of after-swimming skin
  • Thankfully, experts are currently saying COVID-19 can't spread through water, but social distancing rules still apply
  • For both pool and ocean swimming, it's important to wash off after to prevent irritation and dryness issues

My eight-year-old daughter just finished school. I use that term loosely as her teacher was mostly me. I’m pretty sure she didn’t learn anything new except how to use the chat function and change her background during Zoom calls.

Usually her summers are mapped out with various camps and activities but with COVID-19, everything is closed. It’s looking like the next couple of months will be a summer full of carefully planned social-distanced pool time, beach visits and bike rides. Personally, I’m not a big fan of outdoor activities since I try to avoid too much sun for my skin and sand mess is the worst, but we’re all learning to adapt, right?

With these new summer plans in mind, a few questions popped into my head.  First, can COVID-19 spread through water?  Also, is the chlorine in pool water and the salt in beach water bad for your skin? 

To answer the first question, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 can spread through water in pools, hot tubs, or the ocean.  Also, many experts are of the opinion that the viruses that cause COVID-19 can’t survive in both chlorinated pool water or salt water either. 

This was a huge relief – of course this doesn’t mean the pool or beach are safe havens.  You still need to adhere to the normal social distancing rules, wear a mask when you can and also wash your hands often.

On the second question of the impact of pool and ocean swimming on your skin, I found quite a bit of helpful information out there as well.

Upon doing some research, I was not surprised to find that chlorine found in pools can be damaging to skin and hair. I remember as a kid how some of my blonde-hair friends would end up with almost green hair after spending a summer in the pool.

Chlorine is a strong antibacterial used in pools to prevent the overgrowth of bacteria. It can bind to the skin and is difficult to wash off. If you’ve ever noticed your skin feeling tight after swimming in the pool, it’s because chlorine can cause dryness and lend itself to irritation.

Don’t worry - this doesn’t mean you have to deflate your pool floaties and give up swimming.  There are a few things you can do to mitigate chlorine damage to the skin:

  1. Make sure you are using sunscreen on your entire face and body as it can act as a thin barrier between your skin and the water. Reapply every couple of hours or so to keep the barrier consistent and also protect against sun damage.
  2. Wash your skin within 10 minutes of being in the pool. Chlorine can be hard to wash off so make sure you’re using a gentle yet effective body wash instead of just rinsing off with water. Follow that with a Vitamin C serum and good moisturizer which can combat the damage associated with chlorine and lock in moisture.
  3. Incorporate hydrating facials sheet masks into your routine. This can help to rejuvenate the skin after a long day of sun and chlorine on your face and skin!

Upon researching the other option of going to the beach, I found both good and bad.  

Good news first – salty ocean water is full of vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, potassium and zinc and can decrease skin inflammation and help with acne. I’ve long heard of the healing effects of salt – Epsom salt baths, salt scrubs, skincare products incorporating dead sea salt.

On the other hand, too much exposure to saltwater can be drying as well. In addition, ocean water can be contaminated with animal waste, fecal matter and other germs too, which are definitely not good for your skin!

So even after ocean bathing, make sure to wash your skin as soon as possible and generally follow the same steps above for after pool skincare.  

It seems I should be able to incorporate some level of pool and beach time with my family this summer so long as I take my own advice and take precautions to protect against both COVID-19 and skin dryness and irritation.  Time to get out the unicorn floatie, beach ball and handheld vacuum for my car!