Does Swimming In Chlorine Actually Help With Acne?

Swimming in a pool is one of the best ways to enjoy the summer. If you're someone who struggles with acne, you might have noticed that your skin looks a little clearer after that first afternoon dip — enough to make you want to make a pool swim a part of your daily routine. Could it be that the chlorine in the pool water actually helps acne?

The answer is a bit complicated. Chlorine is a chemical that is commonly added to pools as a sanitizer to kill bacteria and viruses. It plays an important role in making sure that potentially harmful microscopic organisms, as well as urine, fecal matter, sweat, and algae, are kept under control and don't make us sick (via Poolonomics).

Since chlorine is a strong antibacterial, it's possible that a swim in a chlorinated pool can actually reduce acne that is caused by bacteria. It could also help reduce acne just by drying it out — as it dries out our hair and nails too. Great, right? Well, don't get too excited just yet. Prolonged exposure to chlorine can actually have the opposite effect, ultimately making acne worse (via Bustle).

Washing chlorine off your skin after a swim is important

While chlorine can kill the "bad" bacteria that causes acne, it just as quickly kills the "good," too. Functional medicine doctor Kelly Bay explains, "Chlorine not only dries out your skin but it will kill the good and bad bacteria making up your skin microbiome. This may temporarily give the result of clearer skin, but in the long term will strip your skin of its natural oils and disrupt your microbiome" (via Skincare Hero). Not to mention, drying the skin out can put the oil-producing sebaceous glands in overdrive, resulting in oilier skin down the road .

Board-certified dermatologist and celebrity skin expert Dr. Anna Guanche offers similar insight, "When the microbiome is not in equilibrium, things like acne, atopic dermatitis, skin inflammation, and irritation can occur. If there is predominantly good bacteria (non-pathogenic), then this is when our skin is best. It's all about balance and protecting the microbiome" (via InStyle).

You don't actually need to give up the pool to save your skin, however. Taking a few simple steps to protect your skin from chlorine can go a long way towards both enjoying the pool and maintaining your complexion. First, shower with an effective cleanser immediately after getting out of the pool, in order to wash the chlorine off your skin. Then, follow up with a light moisturizer. With a little planning you can both enjoy the pool and protect your skin. So, jump in!