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Chlorine and Acne

Bidisha Mukherjee
Many acne sufferers are unsure about the effects of chlorine on acne. If you have the same problem, then you must go through this story, wherein we have tried to clear the misconception about chlorine and acne.
Acne is a red, pus-filled skin eruption that results from a bacterial attack on the skin. When there is an excess amount of sebum secretion by the sebaceous glands lying under the skin surface, then this oily substance blocks the pores in the skin. Furthermore, the build up of dirt and dead skin cells inside these pores can cause an infection to occur.
The growing number of bacteria then release some toxic substances that cause inflammation and redness of the skin. Your acne mostly gets exposed to chlorine either from swimming pool water or tap water.

Why is Chlorine Added to Water?

Chlorine is a chemical substance with excellent disinfectant qualities. For this reason, it is being used for cleaning up the water in swimming pools and water treatment plants. Chlorine is added to swimming pool water to eliminate E.coli bacteria widely found in water.
When the bacteria in water comes in contact with chlorine, then the chemical element breaks down the fatty components present in bacterial cell walls. This makes enzymes of the bacteria harmless and ineffective for causing any infection. Thus, you get clean and filtered water, which is free of bacteria.

Effects of Chlorine on Acne Prone Skin

There is a misconception associated with swimming pool chlorine and acne mainly because some people have noticed improvement in their acne condition after swimming. What they fail to understand is that chlorine does not help in getting rid of acne, and what they notice is only temporary relief.
When chlorine present in the water penetrates into the skin, then its antibacterial properties destroy the acne causing bacteria. It also removes the excess oil build up from the skin pores. This way, chlorine facilitates faster healing of the infection.
Chlorine in small amounts is good for the acne. In fact, it is used as an ingredient in various acne skin care products. However, long term or repetitive exposure of the acne to chlorinated water can be harmful for it. The acidic qualities of chlorine in water have an adverse effect on the skin particularly on the facial skin, which is more sensitive.
Along with the infection causing bacteria, chlorine kills those bacteria, which are good for the skin. It eliminates vitamin E and polyunsaturated fatty acids that are essential for a healthy skin. It also strips off the natural oils which are present in the topmost layer of the skin and holds the moisture within it.
As a result, the overall skin condition deteriorates and it becomes extremely dry. Now, when the skin has turned dry, then the body tries to restore its normal oil balance. For this reason, it increases the production of oil from the sebaceous glands in order to compensate for the loss.
This leads to overproduction of skin oils, which then starts blocking up the skin pores. The drying effect of the chlorine creates tiny fissures that tend to irritate the skin a lot. Thus, chlorine creates an ideal condition for the growth of infection causing bacteria and promotes acne growth all over again.

How to Counter the Effects of Chlorine on Acne?

Now, if your skin is already exposed to chlorinated water, then you have to take some steps to protect the skin from any damage. It will not only aggravate the acne problem further, but will also lead to premature aging of the skin in future.
Thus fine lines, wrinkles and other signs of aging will make their appearance in no time. First of all, wash off the acne affected skin with pure water. Then exfoliation of the skin is a must to clean up the chlorine resides that are still left behind.
It should be followed by skin moisturizing, which should be done twice a day in order to prevent dryness of the skin.
Well, I hope you have understood the relation between harmful effects of chlorine and acne. These effects of chlorine become more prominent after swimming as compared to taking a bath in chlorinated water of your shower.
This is because more chlorine is used in the swimming pool water as compared to water treatment plants. The chlorinated water is not going to affect the acne as long as the pH level falls in between 7 and 8. The problem arises only when it goes beyond these limits.