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Matt Gohlke / Pools

Tips offered to help ward off pool-related irritants

Most area schools let out for the summer this week. As a matter of fact, all three Denton high schools — Denton High, Ryan High and Guyer High — are holding their graduation ceremonies today. Congratulations to all students on what I hope was a great year, but a special congratulation to this year’s graduates.

With school out and the temperatures heating up, swimming pool use will increase.

As swimming pools are being enjoyed this summer, it is important to try to prevent irritants such as eye and skin irritation, sunburn and hair discoloration.

Following is some information to help prevent some of these problems from occurring.

Eye and skin irritation

What causes this eye and skin irritation? We have been raised hearing the phrase “too much chlorine.” This is not usually the cause of eye or skin irritation in swimming pools. Most often eye and skin irritation is caused by one of the following:

Insufficient sanitizer levels — Although swimmers often complain that the chlorine is burning their eyes or irritating their skin, it is, in fact, usually a sign that there is not enough chlorine in the pool.

When nitrogen and hypochlorous acid combine, chloramines (spent chlorine) are formed. The chloramines no longer kill bacteria and the water smells bad, giving off a chlorine-like smell. These chloramines also tend to irritate the eyes.

When this occurs, the chloramines must be oxidized by the use of chlorine or a non-chlorine oxidizer. So actually when swimmers think that a pool has too much chlorine because it is burning their eyes or because of the odor, it is most likely that it needs more chlorine or a non-chlorine oxidizer.

Incorrect pH — The recommended pH level for a swimming pool is 7.2 to 7.6. This level is fairly easy on the eyes and skin. However, if the pH gets outside of this recommended range, it can cause eye or skin irritation. Low pH tends to irritate the eyes and skin more than high pH.

Once eye irritation does occur, eye drops will usually provide relief for irritated eyes. To treat irritated skin, taking a shower and then using a moisturizing lotion will usually do the trick

Sun protection

Sunscreen is rated by SPF, which stands for sun protective factor.

The higher the SPF, the longer the sun protection. Applying the sunscreen thoroughly and liberally is the key.

Many times we overlook the fact that we need a waterproof sunscreen for use in pools or if we are perspiring. This is a very important consideration and must be taken into account when selecting the correct sunscreen.

Men with thinning hair should be extremely careful and apply sunscreen liberally to the top of the head or wear a hat. Sunscreen should also be applied to the top of the ears even when wearing a hat. Lips are another very sensitive area that should not be overlooked.

Many people tend to develop dry skin with repeated exposure to the sun and water. In the past few years, pool chemicals have been developed that actually help maintain your skin’s moisture. If you prefer not to go this route, moisturizers are available that can help relieve your dry skin.

Hair discoloration

There are shampoos and other hair care products that help remove the chlorine and other pool chemicals from hair. If you have hair that turns green, it is not, as many believe, from the chlorine.

For many years chlorine has been blamed for turning blonde hair green, but, as it turns out, the real problem is the copper in the water. If you are experiencing this problem, you should have your water tested. There are chemicals available at pool supply stores that you can apply to the pool water that help prevent green hair problems.

Some everyday swimmers wet their hair with tap water before swimming believing the pool chemicals won’t penetrate hair that is already saturated. To help remove much of the chemicals, it is a good idea to rinse your hair immediately after swimming.

If after trying these tips you continue having problems with eyes, skin or hair, consult your physician.

Have a great summer!

MATT GOHLKE owns Gohlke Pools, which has earned national awards, certifications and recognition in the pool industry. He can be reached at 940-387-7521 or