written by: Finn Orfano
• edited by: Diana Cooper
• updated: 11/17/2010
People with a chlorine allergy can experience several health problems as a result of being exposed to this chemical, which is commonly used to treat drinking water and pool water. Learn more about the symptoms associated with an allergic reaction to chlorine and the methods of treatment available.
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An allergic reaction to chlorine occurs when a person's immune system produces histamine (a protein that causes inflammation) as a result of contact with or ingestion of the chemical. Chlorine is abundant in water, bleaches, and salts and is not a common allergen. Those who are allergic to chlorine frequently display symptoms that affect the skin, sinuses, and lungs.
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Chlorine Allergy Symptoms
The following symptoms may be present in people who have an allergy to chlorine and are exposed to the chemical by means of swimming, ingesting water, or using a chlorinated bleach:
• skin rash or itch -An allergy can cause the skin to appear red and blotchy and can cause itching or soreness.
• watery, red, and itchy eyes-A chlorine allergy that affects the eyes can be treated with antihistamine eye drops.
• runny nose or sinus problems-Pain in the sinus cavities and a runny nose sometimes indicate an allergy to chlorinated water or products.
• breathing, wheezing, and other asthma symptoms-Exposure to chlorine can hinder an allergic person's ability to breathe properly and may also cause the onset of asthma.
• headache and sore throat-An allergy can produce these bothersome symptoms, which are treated with antihistamines.
• nausea and vomiting-Inflammation from an allergy to chlorine can sometimes cause digestive issues such as vomiting and nausea.
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Chlorine Allergy Treatments
Treatment for a chlorine allergy can vary depending on the severity of a person's symptoms and the degree of exposure. Medical professionals can prescribe one or a combination of these treatment methods:
• antihistamines-Antihistamine medications treat both skin and breathing complications. Available in tablet, liquid, or spray form, some of these medications can be purchased over-the-counter while others require a prescription.
• bronchodilators administered through an inhaler-Individuals who develop asthmatic symptoms as a result of a chlorine allergy can treat symptoms by using an inhaler containing either short-acting or long-acting bronchodilators (such as Albuterol or Symbicort).
• skin creams-Antihistamine skin creams and gels such as Benadryl can help treat symptoms.
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Preventing Exposure To Chlorine
An individual can take certain precautions in order to avoid developing symptoms that stem from a chlorine allergy. These include:
• drinking, showering in, and swimming in filtered/non-chlorinated water-In the home, a person can install shower and tap water filters that prevent chlorine exposure. Non-chlorinated water systems for pools are an option for people who enjoy swimming.
• discontinuing use of household products that contain chlorine-Products such as non-chlorine bleach are available for individuals with a chlorine allergy. These products are commonly offered through environmentally-friendly companies.
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People who have a moderate or severe allergic reaction to chlorine need to be diligent in avoiding exposure to the chemical and should keep a method of treatment on hand in case of accidental contact. Using a water purification system that involves compounds similar to chlorine in the home can help to deter allergic reactions. Those who experience milder allergy symptoms from chlorine are sometimes able to maintain exposure to the chemical with the continued use of treatments.