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Sensitive Skin? Discover the Best Pool Chemicals for You

Swimming pools are hugely popular for family fun and relaxing with friends, but for individuals with sensitive skin, the chemicals used to maintain the pool’s cleanliness can cause various skin irritations and discomfort. What is the solution, and what are the best pool chemicals that are gentle on sensitive skin while effectively sanitizing the water?

Saltwater pools generate a milder form of chlorine, less harmful to sensitive skins, but alternative chemicals such as bromine and magnesium can also be used. While chlorine cannot be totally eliminated, ozone, UV systems, and non-chlorine shock treatments reduce its effect on sensitive skin.

I want to explore the pros and cons of different pool chemicals suitable for people with sensitive skin and also examine the various systems that allow you to reduce the amount of chemicals needed, as this will also benefit those people. It’s a common problem, but I hope to provide you with enough information to decide which way to go.

The Best Pool Chemicals For Sensitive Skins

Chlorine is the most widely used chemical in pools to sanitize the water, and it’s the chief cause of problems for those with sensitive skin. We can replace it, often at the cost of water quality, or we can reduce it to safe levels while keeping the water safe and microbe-free.

If your pool smells like chlorine, it might be affecting sensitive skin. Discover why your pool might smell strongly of chlorine.

1. Bromine

Bromine is an alternative to chlorine known for its gentler effect on the skin. Most effective in warmer water, it is typically used in hot tubs or indoor pools with higher water temperatures but can be used in all pools.

Chlorine and bromine work differently to sanitize your pool water. Chlorine is both an oxidizer and sanitizer, whereas bromine is only a sanitizer. It takes longer to activate but remains active even after killing the bacteria. This means that you may only need to add bromine once a week.

Pros:

  • Less likely to cause skin irritation than chlorine.
  • Effective in killing bacteria and viruses.
  • Provides a more stable disinfection level compared to chlorine.

Cons:

  • More expensive than chlorine.
  • Slower acting compared to chlorine, requiring more time for sanitation.
  • Requires the use of additional chemicals to activate its disinfecting properties.

2. Magnesium

Magnesium-based pool systems, also known as magnesium mineral systems or magnesium oxide systems, offer a more natural approach to pool sanitization.

Pros:

  • Magnesium is less likely to cause skin irritation or dryness than chlorine or bromine. It can be a suitable option for individuals with sensitive skin.
  • You can use magnesium through a standard chlorinator if you have one already installed.
  • Magnesium systems typically have a milder scent than chlorine, enhancing the swimming experience and reducing discomfort caused by chemical smells.
  • Magnesium is an essential mineral that can have positive effects on the body. Swimming in a pool treated with magnesium may promote relaxation, reduce stress, and support muscle and joint health.
  • Magnesium systems use fewer chemicals, produce fewer disinfection by-products, and have a lower environmental impact than chlorine or bromine.

Cons:

  • While magnesium helps control algae growth, it may not be as effective as chlorine or bromine in eliminating certain types of bacteria and viruses.
  • If you don’t have a chlorinator already installed, a magnesium system can be more expensive to install than traditional chlorine or bromine system.
  • Magnesium systems require regular monitoring to ensure proper mineral levels and water balance. Occasional adjustments or shock treatments may be needed to maintain water clarity and prevent algae growth.

3. Saltwater Systems

While I’ve said chlorine is not good for sensitive skin, saltwater pools, which produce chlorine from salt, are still worth considering.

Wondering if a saltwater system might be better for your sensitive skin and fiberglass pool? Find out if fiberglass pools can be saltwater.

Pros:

  • Saltwater pools are generally gentler on the skin and eyes than traditional chlorine pools.
  • Saltwater systems reduce the reliance on traditional chlorine chemicals, resulting in a more natural swimming experience.
  • Less monitoring and maintenance are needed compared to traditional chlorine pools.
  • Many people find that saltwater pools offer a softer and more pleasant water feel.

Cons:

  • The installation of a salt chlorine generator can be expensive.
  • Saltwater can corrode certain pool materials and equipment over time.
  • Salt and stabilizer levels in the pool water must be monitored and adjusted periodically.
  • Saltwater systems may not be suitable for individuals with specific medical conditions, such as certain types of eczema. Consultation with a healthcare professional is recommended.
Deciding between saltwater and chlorine for an above-ground pool? This is especially important if you have sensitive skin. Learn more here.

4. Ozone Systems

Ozone systems utilize ozone gas to disinfect pool water. Ozone is one of the strongest, fastest disinfectants for water treatment, 3000 times faster than chlorine.

Pros:

  • Ozone is recognized as a powerful oxidizer that effectively kills bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants in the water.
  • Ozone systems can reduce the amount of chlorine or bromine needed, potentially benefiting individuals with sensitive skin.
  • Ozone systems generally have a minimal odor compared to chlorine-based systems.
  • Ozone helps break down organic matter and destroy microorganisms, producing cleaner and clearer water.

Cons:

  • Ozone systems do not provide a long-lasting residual effect, necessitating a secondary sanitizer such as chlorine or bromine for continuous protection.
  • Ozone systems require an ozone generator and may involve professional installation, which can be costly.
  • Ozone systems require regular monitoring and maintenance to ensure optimal performance.
  • Ozone systems may not be compatible with all pool equipment and materials. Compatibility checks are necessary before installation.

5. UV (Ultraviolet) Systems

UV systems use ultraviolet light to disinfect pool water, so no chemical input is required.

Pros:

  • UV light effectively kills bacteria, viruses, and algae, helping maintain clean and safe pool water.
  • UV systems reduce the amount of chlorine or bromine needed in the pool.
  • UV systems generally require minimal maintenance compared to other sanitization methods.
  • UV systems do not contribute to the chemical odor associated with chlorine-based pools.

Cons:

  • UV systems do not provide a long-lasting residual effect, requiring the use of a secondary sanitizer for continuous protection.
  • UV systems require the installation of UV lamps and associated equipment, which can be expensive and need electricity to power the lamps, resulting in ongoing energy costs.
  • UV systems may not effectively remove particulate matter or other non-living contaminants from the water.

Conclusion

I’ve highlighted alternative pool chemicals and systems for swimmers with sensitive skin. Bromine, magnesium, salt water, ozone, and UV systems offer potential benefits, such as reduced skin and eye irritation, more natural approaches to sanitation, and improved water quality.

However, it is also crucial to consider factors like initial setup costs, compatibility with existing equipment, ongoing maintenance requirements, and limitations in disinfection effectiveness.

A robotic pool cleaner can help keep your pool pristine for those with sensitive skin. Are robotic pool cleaners worth the investment?