Common Swimmer Issues


Damaged Hair: Damaged, straw-like hair, hair loss or breaking hair

Cause: Your hair is like a sponge and when hair is exposed to chlorine, it soaks it up and then it sits on your hair and drys it, essentially cooking it. Those with thin hair, blondes and previously damaged hair are most at risk.


1. Wet your hair in the shower prior to getting into the pool. Wet hair can't absorb as much of the chlorinated, damaging water.

2. Swim caps add an extra layer of protection between your hair and the drying water. They aren't made to keep your hair completely dry but they do help. They also help you lose less hair and decrease hair breakage while swimming, by keeping hair tightly compressed against your head.

3. Rinse,wash and condition hair after swimming, to get the chlorine out as fast as possible and decrease the amount of time the chlorine has to dry out your hair.

4. Use hairwash treatments such as moisturizing, leave-in, spray conditioners and occassional hair masks.

5. Get regular haircuts, since chlorine speeds up hair breakage, cutting the ends off will stop if from splitting all the way up to the follicle and allow hair to grow longer and healthier.

6. Avoid other damaging products such as bleach, dyes and heat found in straighteners, curling irons and blowdryers.  Don't perm or relax your hair.

Treatment: Use clarifying shampoo once a week to strip your hair of the chlorine (if color treated check with your stylist first).

Source of hair information:


Swimwear not lasting:

Cause: Chlorine affects the fibers in you swimwear even after swimming, causing fading, stretching and breakdown.  Climbing in and out of the pool and swimwear coming into contact with the sides of the pool also causes thinning and damage to the material.


1. Wash in cold water after each use, to rinse out the chlorine.

2. Lay flat to dry (not in direct sunlight). Do not dry on a hanger,

3. Don't wash in a washing machine, the agitation and detergent will reduce the life of the material.

4. Don't dry in a dryer, the heat can destroy the elastic and lycra.

5. Don't put a wet swimsuit in a spinner, they can cause tears in the fabric.

6. Rotate your swimsuits.

7. Pay attention to the material your swimwear is made of, certain materials are more colorfast, durable and chlorine-resistant than others.  See Swim Outlet for more details.


Itchy Ears: 

Cause: Moisture in the ear canal

Treatment: Some home treatments can help, but make sure it's okay with your doctor and not an infection first.

Home Remedy: Swimmer's eardrops, such as Swim-Ear. Use before and after swimming or getting your ears wet.

Swimmers Ear (Otitis externa): Inflammation of the canal joining the eardrum to the external ear.

Cause: Moisture, water and different types of bacteria can get trapped in the ear canal causing it to get red, sore and swell up from irritation.

Sign/Symptoms: Feels like ear is plugged and painful, especially while chewing or when tugging on earlobe.

Treatment: See a physician about antibiotics (usually in eardrop form).  Take over-the-counter pain medicine like acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve) for pain. Apply a warm washcloth to ear. 

Prevention: Keep ears clean and dry

Home Prevention Remedy: After daily shower, clean and dry ears (even blow-dry if necessary) and then apply a couple drops of a mixture of half rubbing alcohol and half vinegar to each ear.  The alcohol evaporates the water and the vinegar keeps the bacteria from growing. 

Source of Ear information: University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics (uihc.organd Stanford Health Care (


Nail Scratches:

Cause: Athletes fingernails and toenails scratching each other as they pass in the pool.

Prevention: Keep your athletes fingernails and toenails trimmed and filed.


1. Wash the wound with soap and water, rubbing out any dirt with a washcloth.

2. Use antibiotic ointment (such as polysporin), then cover with bandage and change daily.

3. Stay up-to-date on your tetanus.

Source of Scratch information: Seattle Childrens Hospital (


Abrasions/redness on bridge of nose:

Cause:  Poor fitting swim goggles.

Treatment: Switch nose pieces or find a different brand or style of goggle that better suits your face structure.