When most people think of a swimming pool, they think of relaxation or fun—but did you know that taking a dip in a chlorinated pool can actually help heal wounds, such as minor cuts, abrasions, or burns? Although further studies are needed to substantiate chlorine’s positive effects on skin, anecdotal evidence shows the potential.
Why It Might Work
Because chlorine has antibacterial properties, it’s used in pool water to kill germs. That’s why taking a dip may seem to speed up a wound’s healing. As the chlorine in the water penetrates the exterior of the wound, it helps kill bacteria in the sore and the infection begins to subside. (There are a few warnings though—more on that later.)
Misconceptions About Chlorine
In recent years, chlorine used to treat swimming pools has garnered a negative reputation. At high concentrations, the chemical can have adverse effects upon the body and skin—but it’s not harmful in controlled doses.
Wounds on the face such as acne sores can benefit from contact with chlorinated water. The water has a drying and antibacterial effect that removes the grease and bacteria from deep within the pores. However, if the skin becomes too dry from excessive exposure, the body begins to overcompensate by producing more oil, exacerbating the problem. It’s best to apply a light lotion after swimming to enjoy the chlorine’s benefits but prevent worsening acne.
Although chlorine can help external wounds, it should never be used to treat internal wounds, such as those on the inside of the mouth or eyes. The linings inside the mouth and the eyes are soft tissues capable of absorbing harmful bacteria that could be in pool water. Also, chlorine can cause irritation to these areas, including burning. Because the skin is the body’s protective covering, it’s a lot less sensitive to these potential negative effects.
A person with a fresh, open wound should never enter a swimming pool. Wounds that are oozing blood or other body fluids will not only infect the water, but they’re also more likely to become further infected by any bacteria in the water. Once a scab has formed, it’s safe to enter the water and test the healing effects of chlorine.
Remember that chlorine is a chemical, and the body should be exposed to it only in small doses to avoid the adverse reactions it’s often known for.