Pelican Water Systems - Blog Home

Irritant Dermatitis: Could Chlorine Be the Culprit?


Most of us have probably had a rash or allergic reaction at some point in our lives. Whether you fell into a thicket of poison ivy or found out the hard way that you’re allergic to certain types of makeup, you may have felt the wrath of a terrible rash and the inconveniences associated with it.

Many rashes and itching sensations are not caused by allergens, however. This more generalized type of rash or skin condition is referred to as irritant dermatitis or contact dermatitis.

If you have a specialized occupation where your hands are often wet (like a nurse, a beautician, or a bartender) you can develop dry, itchy skin that begins to crack. Over time it can become more irritated as your skin is wet for prolonged periods of time or is exposed to irritants on the job.

However, sometimes the causes of irritant dermatitis are less clear. At some points in the year, you may develop large and uncomfortable rashes that seemingly came from nowhere. Diagnoses of diaper rash, swimmer’s rash, and acid burn are all various forms of irritant dermatitis.

Irritant Dermatitis: Could Chlorine Be the Culprit?The symptoms of irritant dermatitis are easy enough to identify:

  • A red patch or rash
  • Dryness and cracking of the skin
  • Itching
  • Swelling or blistering
  • Scaling of the damaged area
  • Ulcerations and open sores

Note that you don’t need to exhibit all of the above symptoms to have irritant dermatitis – the symptoms may be limited to one or two. Often, the causes can be identified. For example, if you clean homes for a living the exposure to cleaning chemicals over time will irritate your skin.

However, when you are unable to determine what is causing your irritant dermatitis you can become stressed and anxious, sometimes spending a great deal of money on treatment. If this is the case consider one culprit that may have slipped your mind: chlorine.

98% of the water we use to bathe, cook, wash our hands, and drink is treated with chlorine. The chemical acts as a disinfectant, but chlorine itself is a known irritant. Alkalis, detergents, solvents, and disinfectants are some of the most cited causes of irritant dermatitis.

When we bathe in chlorinated water the chemical seeps into our skin and can cause significant irritation. Chlorine is known to dull hair, making it brittle and limp. By nature chlorine washes away the protective layer of oils and proteins that coat our skin and hair, leaving us vulnerable to irritation.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) competitive swimmers should not regularly practice in pools with chlorine levels exceeding 0.5 ppm (parts per million). However, in many states the chlorine level in our home’s water is much higher, sometimes 3 or 4 ppm.

The chlorine levels increase during the summer to combat the increased risk of contaminants in your drinking water in hot conditions. While chlorine disinfects water it also can cause multiple issues, among them irritant dermatitis.

One Pelican Water customer reported that their irritant dermatitis and constant summer skin rashes cleared up as soon as they installed a whole house water filter system that reduces 99% of chlorine and stopped bathing in chlorinated water.

The customer also claimed that their respiratory health improved, which is consistent with the American College of Sports Medicine report that indicates swimmers in highly chlorinated water experience a higher risk of breathing problems. Lead researcher Arthur J. Williams, M.D., of the Sport Science Institute of South Africa, stated in the report that he and his team have “long suspected that chlorine has an adverse effect on the respiratory health of swimmers.”

If you have experienced irritant dermatitis chlorine may be the culprit, or may be aggravating your symptoms. Protect your family’s health: install a water filtration system or premium shower filter. from Pelican Water that eliminates 99% of the chlorine in your water supply.

Pelican Combo System Salt-Free Water Softener Whole-House Water Filter