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Rashes, Irritations and Odor Problems

Most often, the result of poor sanitation and/or water chemistry.
The Pool and Spa Informational Website or

Pool Rash, Irritation or Odor Avoidance Suggestions.


Scroll down to browse through some archived SWIMMING POOL questions and answers.  Please click the Pool Problems Link, on top of every page, to access a complete listing of Pool Problem subjects, an alphabetized Website Table of Contents, Pool Equipment Information, About Alan Biographic Material and a Pool Glossary. Use the other links to access additional subject information. More information about some new and unique products, for pools and spas, can be found by visiting The Website Store. You'll never know what you'll find and that's always fun. Be better prepared and avoid costly problems!


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Optimizing chemistry, improving circulation and eliminating phosphates!!!
Rashes, irritations and odors can result, when the water chemistry is out of balance.  The likelihood of algae, microbial growth and sanitizer-resistant strains increases.  A ColorQ, All-Digital Water Tester can perform all of the common pool water tests and eliminates the color-matching and guesswork.  There is a model, for every pool testing need.  Reliable water testing will help solve and avoid problems.  Better Circulation helps make everything work more effectively. The Circulator is a return jet replacement fitting, that improves filtration, eliminates the dead zones that promote algae and microbial growth, while improving sanitizer distribution. Phosphates and Nitrates can increase the growth of algae and make sanitation more difficult, as both are vital plant nutrients.  Nitrate removal is not practical, but phosphate removal is easy enough to do.  Adding Pool Refresh Total Trap will allow you to vacuum and filter out phosphates and should make algae control more effective.
ColorQ All-Digital Water Testers The Pool Circulator Boosts Circulation How to eliminate phosphates
#2086 ColorQ 2X PRO 7 Pool and Spa Test Kit The Ciruclater replacement return jet fitting improves pool water circulation. Pool Refresh TotalTrap removes phosphates and metals.
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If you have a pool or spa water testing need, we should have the product.
Scroll down to read through some Question & Answer information.

Improving Sanitation With Alternative Pool Water Sanitizers
Rashes, irritations and odors can become a problem, when algae and microbial growth are a frequent occurrence and is the result of inadequate sanitation. as well as other factors.  Maintaining proper sanitation and eliminating underwater slimes, is a must.  Adding some backup sanitizing is important, as chlorine level rise and fall, based on pool usage and the chemicals being added.  Most pools use some sort of chlorine.  A Salt Chlorine Generator is definitely a better way to do chlorine.  Salt chlorine generators are highly automated and give you better control.  The salt level is about that found in human tears.  In-Line and no-installation-required models are available.   A PockeTester Kit is a convenient way to monitor the salt level, in pools that utilize a salt chlorine generator.
Salt Chlorine Generators Salt Chlorine Generator - No Installation Testing The Salt Level
MegaChlor-CD salt chlorine generator, with Chlorine Detection Technology. #1749 PockeTester Kit, for salt TDS and temperature.
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If you have a pool or spa water testing need, we should have the product.
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How to avoid common causes of rashes, irritations and odors?

 Problems with a pool rash, irritation or unpleasant odors fall into several categories. Some are bacterial infections caused by inadequate pool water sanitizing, water trapped in the ear or remaining in a damp bathing suit for prolonged periods of time. Some chlorine byproducts such as chloramines are irritating and odorous and can lead to problems. The difference between the Total Chlorine and Free Chlorine reading is combined chlorine or chloramines.  Levels over 0.3 PPM are associated with the onset of odors, irritation, red-eye and water clarity problems.  Some individuals are highly sensitive to certain chemicals or materials and can experience problems, even though the pool is being properly maintained. When the water chemistry and/or sanitizer level is grossly out of balance, a chemical dermatitis can be the result. All instances of a rash or irritation should be evaluated by a medical doctor. Individuals, sensitive to even normal levels of common sanitizers, may be helped by a switch to an alternative sanitizer or combination of sanitizing methods, such as:  Salt Chlorine Generators and Ultraviolet Pool Sterilizers. If problems arise, refer to the Pool Problems Page, as a source of problem-solving information, broken down into various categories.  Scroll down the page and click on the linked keywords, catch phrases or images, in the archived answers below, to access additional information, on that topic or product.

Do you know what's in your water?  If you're having problems, with sanitation or water clarity, testing allows you to better understand the chemistry and determine the cause of the problem.  Once understood, you can select the best treatment option.  Understanding the nature of the problem, should be step one.  For information about our full selection of testing options, visit our Test Equipment Store.

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Can COVID-19 present a risk, in a home spa or pool?

Is there any advise about pool use, during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Brandon K., Melbourne, FL, 4/2/2020

There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of pools and hot tubs. Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection (e.g., with chlorine and bromine) of pools and hot tubs should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.  The preceding information was taken directly for the CDC website.  Needless to say, you should adhere to social distancing recommendations and limit the number of people, in and around the pool.  Now is not the time to have a pool party.  Use this link for the latest, from the CDC:  Hopefully, this too will pass.

Stay well and keep safe!!!

Alan Schuster, 4/7/2020

Something Is Not Right?

I go to a gym with a full size indoor salt water pool. Several people including myself have gotten rashes and our bathing suits get discolored and stretchy. I wore a brand new one last week (shocking pink) and got out of the pool with a purple suit. Any idea what is wrong? I also feel like my face is picky and hot.

Thank you for your time.

Helen R., 6/8/2018
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It sounds like the chlorine level is very high.  That could account for the discomfort and the color change.  A low pH would make it even worse.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) actually recommends that commercial pool users, such as yourself, do some of their own water testing.  They suggested test strips, because of ease of use.  A LaMotte Insta-Test 5 or Insta-Test 6 Test Strip should tell the whole story, in just a dip of a strip.  If things are not right, you should complain and ask that conditions be rectified, as soon as possible.  If nothing is done, there is always the department of health. I hope that this will be helpful.  If this website was helpful, in solving your problem, please consider joining our E-Letter Mailing List.  You'll receive E-Letters, with helpful information, new product updates, suggestions and sale announcements. I hope that I have provided the solution.

Sincerely.  Alan Schuster, 6/8/2018

Smelly Pool Water?

Why does my pool water have an unpleasant odor, sometimes?  I can add lots of shock to solve the problem, but why does it happen?  Thank you.

Samantha J., 7/24/2017

Odors are usually directly associated with inadequate sanitation.  In chlorine pools, it is the formation of chloramines, an odorous, irritating andRelaiant salt chlorine generators, 3-models, for all types of pools, up to 40,000 gallons. ineffective form of combined chlorine, that leads to odor and irritation problems.  The difference between the total and free chlorine reading is combined chlorine and it is recommended that the level be less than 0.3 PPM. About 10 PPM of free chlorine must be added to destroy 1 PPM of combined chlorine.  That is why shocking the pool corrects the problem, at least until the next case of a combined chlorine buildup.  Organic wastes and urine, in particular, are the common causes of the problem.  Not maintaining proper level of sanitizer only add to the likelihood of odors, as well increasing the likelihood of rashes and irritations.  A salt chlorine generator is an ideal way to sanitize and eliminate chloramines, because they are destroyed, as water passes through the salt cell. Ultraviolet Sterilizers can also play an important role in preventing odors, irritations and maintaining an optimum level of sanitizer.  In addition, maintaining proper pool water chemistry is important, as it can directly affect the effectiveness of chlorine sanitizers.

Sincerely.  Alan Schuster, 7/24/2017

Musty Smelling Hair And Bathing Suits?

What would cause our hair and suits to smell musty after being in the pool?

Ginger R., 6/1/2015MegaChlor salt chlorine generator for spas, swim spas and pools up to 10,000 gallons.

Test the Total and Free Chlorine levels.  The difference is combined chlorine. Ideally, the combined chlorine should be less than 0.3 PPM.  Combined chlorine irritating and odorous and could easily explain the problem, that you are describing.  To reduce the combined chlorine level, it is necessary to shock the pool.  Each PPM of combined chlorine will require 10 PPM of free chlorine, in order to reduce the level.  Adding a salt chlorine generator or ultraviolet sterilizer are all very good ways to improve pool sanitation, while eliminating combined chlorine.  I hope that this information is helpful.

Sincerely.  Alan Schuster, 6/1/2015


Are Foam Noodles The Problem?

This is not a question so much as a possible solution. I've been surfing for answers on a topic I found on your site: pool rashes. I notice several people have written regarding pool rashes-especially in "children and teens" while the adults swam with no effects. Any rash that persists more than 48 hours should be seen by a physician, but I've been battling the same thing in my kids: rash on the inner thighs down to the knees, sometimes up to the groin area, always stops at the bathing suit line on my daughter (girls' bathing suits have elastic legs). I think the answer is simple--especially if the adults have no rash but the children do. Pool noodles. The kids ride them. They drag them up between their thighs and swim around with them. My teenaged nephew visited and swam with a noodle under his armpits and came up with a rash under his armpits. While there's a good possibility that the chlorine levels in the pool are too high, this should only cause dry skin and hair. Chlorine levels would have to be extremely high to get a chemical burn. If you think about how many gallons of water there are, then a bit too high is really nothing. But not only do the noodles come into direct contact with their skin, but there is a good possibility of abrasion, especially if the noodles are older and have begun deteriorating. PLEASE make a note of this on your site. I know people won't go and buy a bunch of test kits and new chemicals as a result of reading it, but I really hate to see $20,000 dollars worth of pool repairs when it's possible it's the pool toys to blame! Always look into what comes into direct contact with skin (other than just the water), before panicking! Thanks!

Sheila. K., 8/8/2014

Your reasoning is sound and I agree that you may have found a cause or at least a starting point. Abrade skin and a rash is likely to follow. These noodles are very popular and this is the first that I have heard of such a problem. However, many products, made in Asia, seem subject to faster and cheaper is best and that has lead to antifreeze in toothpaste and melamine in milk products. Fiberglass fibers, in deteriorated pool ladder rungs were found to cause thigh rashes, as bathers exited. This letter has been posted and that ladder product has been removed, from the marketplace. I have gotten many letters about exposed fiberglass fibers in pool refinishing compounds, that contain fiberglass. I issue a warning about all such inquiries and it is the only response letter, in which I use, bold red type to highlight the potential problems. I will add your letter, to the website. Perhaps, you are not alone.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 8/9/2014

What Causes Red Eyes?

We have a small, 15 foot round above-ground pool. My two kids have gotten "red eyes" several times. Is there is a specific cause of this problem? Thank you.

Melanie J., Easton, PA, 8/1/2016

Red eyes or stinging eyes are most likely an irritation problem, caused by high levels of chloramines: an irritating, odorous and ineffective form of combined chlorine. Be certain to use a Free Chlorine Test Kit and keep the Free Chlorine level at 1-3 PPM, as much of the time as possible. Try and keep the Total Chlorine level, no more than 0.3 PPM, above the Free Chlorine. This will keep the amount of chloramines to a minimum. Small above ground pools are especially vulnerable, because it  can be quickly depleted of all of the chlorine. Kids can spend a lot of time in and under the water.  Because there are small children involved, I suggest that you test the Free Chlorine level, before the pool is used.  In addition, test at the first signs of loss of water quality and periodically throughout the day, depending upon the pool usage. The use of a non-chlorine shock can help to reduce the chloramines present in the water. Use it as needed.  All medical problems should be evaluated by a medical doctor. I hope that I have been helpful.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 7/23/2016

Salt Water Pools and No Red Eyes?

Is there a way you can explain in layman's terms to me why with a salt system pool there is no red eye. I have been told that it due to no chloramines, which man made chlorine contains. But, when I research it seems as though chloramines are caused by nitrogen, which I don't see on the labels of man made chlorine. Can you help explain? Thanks.

Al, 12/15/2013

Relaiant salt chlorine generators, 3-models, for all types of pools, up to 40,000 gallons.
You're close, but all of the ducks are not in a row. Chloramines are irritating forms of combined chlorine, that are formed by the reaction of chlorine
with nitrogenous wastes. All chlorine is man-made and all chlorine can form chloramines. Chloramine is not something that will appear on any labels. What makes salt chlorinating systems different, is that 100% of the chloramines are destroyed, as the water passes through the energized cell. This is not true of any other means of adding chlorine. Inasmuch as chloramines are the principal cause of "red eyes" this claim is justifiable. Salt chlorine generators help produce quality water with a minimal chemical presence. That typical pool chlorine odor is actually chloramines and will be virtually eliminated with a properly maintained salt chlorinated pool. I hope that this information will prove helpful. Enjoy the holidays.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 12/15/2013

How to reduce rashes and irritation, with better sanitation.

Use a salt Chlorine Generator for better control and reduce irritating byproducts.
Proper salt levels keep salt chlorine generator working better.
Ultraviolet Sterilizers kill resistant microbes and reduce chemical usage.
The Pool Circulator makes sanitizers work more effectively, reducing many common problems.
Better chemistry promotes sanitizer effectiveness and increases bather comfort.
Salt chlorine generator. #1749 PockeTester Kit Unltravioloet (UV) sterilizers, for all ypes of residential pools and spas. The Circulator improves pool water circulation. #2086 ColorQ 2X - 2nd Generation Pool/Spa Tester
Salt Chlorine Generators are the better way, to use chlorine, in any type of pool. Test the salt level, for best results and extend the life of your salt chlorine generator's salt cell. Ultraviolet Sterilizers kill even the most resistant, pathogenic microorganisms Better circulation improves the action of sanitizers and improves water quality and clarity. ColorQ 2X All-Digital Testers are easy to use, to help optimize water conditions.
Click on any image for complete product and ordering information.

Bloodshot Eyes?

Can you please tell me what we are doing wrong in two areas? For one my ladder keeps floating up it has never really seemed to be installed right and now two years later can't find the instructions. It doesn't seem heavy enough to stay down in the water. The other problem is with chemicals. I didn't have this problem last year and don't know why. I do this year but I'm not showing "any" chlorine in the pool according to my own tests and the ones I take to the pool place. So I add more shock and my kids come out with blood shot eyes and say its too much. HELP, PLEASE!

Nichole D., 5/10/2007

So far as the ladder is concerned, there is nothing that I can offer. Contact the manufacturer or discuss the problem with a local dealer. The red eye
#2086 ColorQ 2X - 2nd Generation Pool/Spa Tester conditions that you are describing are consistent with high levels of chloramines. Chloramines will not show up on a Free Chlorine test. You should test for Free and Total Chlorine: the difference between these readings can be attributed to chloramines. If the Total Chlorine reading is more than 1 PPM above the Free Chlorine reading, it could be indicative of a problem. A major cause of chloramine formation is urine in the pool. The method for destroying chlorines is shock treatment. However, after shock treatment the pool should not be used until the chlorine level drop back into the optimum range of 1-3 PPM of Free Chlorine. Ultimately, bather comfort is dependent upon the maintaining of proper pool water chemistry and sanitizer levels. With water testing so important, I suggest the use of the all-digital, ColorQ Water Analyzers. There is a model for every pool. It eliminates all color-matching and guesswork. I hope that I have been of assistance.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/11/2007

Strong Chlorine Odor?

My pool has a terrible chlorine odor, although the total Chlorine reading is not high.  We are new pool owners and are not sure what need to be done.  Thank you for your help.

Carrie B., Cincinnati, Ohio 7/2/2014

Most likely, you are not actually smelling chlorine, but are detecting the irritating odor of chloramines.  Chloramines are formed by the reaction of chlorine with nitrogen containing wastes, such as urine or sweat.  Combined chlorine is the difference between the Total and Free Chlorine readings and is comprised mostly of chloramines.  They are irritating, odorous and ineffective as sanitizers.  You can detect chloramines at levels of as little as 0.1 PPM, while it takes 30 PPM of chlorine to detect its odor.  To reduce chloramines to under the recommended 0.3 PPM, it is necessary to shock the pool.  Maintaining a consistent, free chlorine level will help with this problem.  Adding a salt chlorine generator or ultraviolet sterilizer will help avoid chloramine formation and enable you to maintain better quality.   I hope that this is helpful.

Sincerely.  Alan Schuster, 7/3/2014

Rashes: An International Story?

Dear Alan, we are having a problem with a skin irritation from our pool water and hope that you may have heard of this problem before. The skin rash is usually located on the legs of the swimmers, looks like small red dots and in some cases the skin sparkles like glitter and feels like tiny prickles. The rash is only noticed once the swimmer has dried themselves and usually lasts about 24 hours, but is very tender to touch. Is this a typical chloramine rash? Most of the people affected by rashes are children and teenagers and the problem is not just with our family members. Although I have had it myself once, my husband has not. Last summer we were careful about balancing our water and find it hard to accept that it could have been chloramines or an imbalance of chemicals. So we decided to have a water test at a laboratory. It was confirmed that fine fibres were found, consistent with fibreglass fragments, about 0.1mm or so long. From this conclusion, we decided to re-fibreglass our pool this summer, (as well as solving other problems - the bottom of our pool was progressively becoming lumpier and we had a black spot problem). We have since discovered the original job was sprayed too thin and an isothelic resin may have been used, where a vinyl resin would have been more suitable in a heated pool.

However, after re-fibreglassing, filling the pool with fresh tap water, balancing and heating the water, the children had their first swim and came out with yet another rash. The pool builder balanced the water for us and did not seem to add anything out of the ordinary - salt, bicarbonate of soda, hydrochloric acid, and a small amount of liquid chlorine. He did not that the water in the filter and pipes was very green and flushed this out, however, he said he was unable to flush out the old water in the pipes returning to the pool. Could this have been so contaminated?

For background information we have:

a new fibreglass pool interior using a vinyl ester resin )perhaps some fibres were left in the pool? However the DE filter is meant to filter out up to 3-5 microns).

salt chlorinator (Could there be a problem with the electrolytic saline chlorination system?).

DE Filter (Filter not too small, it can handle up to 120,000L - we have only 77,000L and it is running for 10 hours a day in summer).

gas heat pump (We heat the pool to a delicious 28 - 30 C. Could increasing the temperature affect chemical reactions on the skin?).

solar pool blanket (Is stored outside and may be contaminated from the sanding and re-fibreglassing chemicals or UV deterioration).

concrete pavers surrounding the pool.

lots of organic matter blown into the pool esp. from an oak tree.

Most of the equipment is around 9 years old now, with the exception of the newly installed controller pH and Chlorine.

We will be sending more water to be analysed by a chemist but we are not sure what to ask him to test for. We have tried to think outside the square with all the variables but as I am not a scientist I am struggling to come up with a solution. We hope that you may have some ideas. Regards.

Carolyn M., New Zealand. 3/13/2005

That was quite a letter! The first thing that I would advise is for those people with a pool rash to seek a medical opinion. Fiberglass fibers can certainly be part of the cause of the problem. I am not familiar with the resin products and, therefore, I will be unable to offer any definitive information concerning their use. It is extremely unlikely, bordering on the remote, that chloramines are the cause of this rash. If chloramines were the cause, you would have mentioned that some or all of the bathers had "red eyes." There was no such mention. Secondly, the fact that you have a salt chlorinator means that all of the water passing through the cell is free of chloramines: that is if the equipment is working properly. Rashes can be caused by bacteria, due to improperly sanitized water. However, I doubt that this is the case. Bacterial rashes would affect the folds of the bodies and the areas covered by bathing suits. Again, nothing in your letter suggests that this is the case. You had your water tested and professionally balanced, so there is no reason to suspect a water chemistry gone awry. The heating to 30șC is not part of the problem. Where I live that is the normal summertime water temperature. The debris from the oak tree might cause staining, but it will be destroyed by the chlorine. The dust from the pavers will be neutralized by the overall water chemistry. All this brings us back to those fibers! The D.E. filter should help remove them over time. You might use an automatic pool vacuum in the morning before the pool has been used. This will help speed up the removal. What you are describing is not common. At least not from my vantage point. Nothing points to a cause other than the fibers. If the new surface is not contributing additional fibers, you should see improvement over time. You might want to seek out a source with more experience with fiberglass products. I hope that I have been helpful. Good luck and let me know how things turn out.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 3/13/2005

Dear Alan, thanks for your speedy reply. By pure chance yesterday I was talking to a pool valet man who said he'd heard of a case years ago in South Africa where there was a problem with the pool ladder. I hadn't even considered our pool ladder! It is stainless steel with white plastic-like rungs. I very quickly used myself as a guinea pig and rubbed my skin against the rungs of the ladder and sure enough I got the rash!! Our pool builder said he thought the rungs of the ladder were fibreglass rather than plastic. It also make sense that as the children stand on the ladder, the skin on their legs possibly touch the rungs of the ladder. Our next step is to contact the manufacturer of the ladder and confirm what the material is, get the water tested for that material, replace the rungs and get an expensive but hopefully happy ending. I came across your website by looking up "Pool problems" under Google and couldn't believe there was someone independent I could discuss this with. We live in Auckland, New Zealand and the swimming pool industry is a small market dominated by monopolies with not much choice for help, independent advise and alternative products. So I thank you again. All the best.

Carolyn M., Auckland, New Zealand, 3/14/2005

You are making me a believer. I would have thought that the rungs were stainless or a high impact plastic. But, I guess fiberglass is a possibility. It's a big world out there. Based upon your self-sacrificing experiment, it does seem that you have narrowed the possibilities. Let me know, how it all turns out. I'll post this in the archives, so that, perhaps, others can benefit from your detective work. Good luck with the solution.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 3/13/2005

Re: Our on-going problem with skin irritations in our pool. The Australian manufacturers of the pool ladders have admitted that they had a problem with the "plastic" rungs and are replacing them at no charge. I'm not sure if it is going to get me anywhere to find out if this product actually is plastic or not. It has taken me 4 1/2 years of searching for an answer and $20,000 - maybe someone else may be able to learn from this. Regards.

Carolyn M., Auckland, New Zealand, 3/17/2005

A Pool Rash Solution, From Half A World Away - Again?

I believe your website just saved me tons of money, energy, and stress. We just bought a house in Potomac, Maryland, USA, with a backyard pool from the 1970s. My kids were coming out of the pool with several discrete little rashes on their body, that they were describing as "jellyfish stings." They felt/saw red bumps and irritation, the area felt prickly/stingy, and then, they identified a glittery aspect to the affected skin. Googling the symptoms led me to your website, and the post "Rashes: An International Story", submitted by Carolyn from New Zealand, in which the degrading pool ladder was identified as a cause. I cannot thank you enough. The pool ladder we have is actually broken- one rung broke in half upon using it for the second time. The kids have realized that indeed, the areas of their "rashes" were areas that had touched the ladder. I am breathing a massive sigh of relief at this diagnosis, and we plan on extricating the ladder soon. My question is: How can I be sure that the next ladder we purchase doesn't have this problem in the future? Is there a manufacturer/material you recommend as safe and good? (Do you sell any ladders?) I want to thank Carolyn and you for providing this information to us, and any others, who experience these symptoms and feel like they are crazy! I am so very
grateful for your informative, bank-saving, sanity-saving website. Thank you!

Caren, Potomac, MD, 7/26/2016

If I still had her email address, I would send her a copy. Unfortunately, I do not. It was a bad product, whose time has come and gone. I don't think you have to worry about a modern ladder. They do make all stainless steel ones.

Someone thousands of miles away solved her problem and now it has solved another, half a world away, from her.  Who would believe this?

I hope know that the information provided was helpful.

Sincerely.  Alan Schuster, 7/26/2016

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What Causes Swimmer's Ears?

What is the cause of swimmer's ears?  My kids have had it and so have my husband and myself. Looking for some helpful advise. Thank you.

Mollie P., Boca Raton, FL., 6/3/2012

Swimmer's ear is an infection, caused by pseudomonas aeruginosa: a pathogenic (disease causing) bacteria. This attention of a medical doctor, for proper evaluation and treatment, is suggested.  There are several factors that can play a role in this problem. Inadequate sanitation can lead to bacterial growth. Water, that remains in the ear, can add to the likelihood of the problem, especially, if the water was not sanitized properly and remains in the ear for extended periods of time.  Shaking the water out of the ears and drying the ears, after swimming, is a good idea and is worth following. I hope that this information proves helpful.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 7/9/2012

Therapy Pool Rash?

I was doing some research on heated pool rashes and came across your web site. I need assistance with information on developing a severe rash using a heated pool for physical therapy. I had been using it for several months with no problem then all of a sudden started to get this rash. It is very itchy and was on various places of my body. I found that I was not the only one that started to break in a rash as well. Others have seen Doctors and are using various ointments, etc. But even with this they are still having problems. It is essential for me continue to do physical therapy in a pool environment. I am disabled and can not do weight bearing exercises. The heater in the pool was broken and they owners got it fixed and ever since that time, is when the rash started. I can provide more information, but want to see if you receive this information first. Thanks.

L. L. , 1/9/2010

I suggest that you seek a medical opinion, as to whether it is chemical dermatitis or an infection such as folliculitis. Treatment is strictly a medical issue. My guess would be inadequate sanitation. I could provide a better answer, if it knew how the water was being sanitized. In addition to inadequate sanitation, bromine has been reported, to me, as being associated with rashes. It contains a chemical, dimethyl hydantoin, not found in chlorine pools, so you may not have been exposed to it before. Its use is popular in indoor pools. Too much potassium monopersulfate has also been associated with rashes, based on the emails I receive. Even the CDC (Center of Disease Control) suggests using tests strips, to do some testing on your own (LAAPS). I don't know what the sanitizer requirements are in your state, but management should know. I hope that this information will start you on the path to discovery.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster. 1/9/2010

Itchy, Red Rash?

Dear Alan. My wife Donna very much enjoys water aerobics in the swimming pools here in the RV park where we live during the winter months. These pools are professionally maintained and appear to be in excellent condition. However, after an hour of water aerobics she breaks out in a red, rather itchy and painful rash on her upper legs near her swim suit, and also on her upper arms around the arm pit area. It is suspected that she has a low tolerance to the chlorine in the water, because the rest of the ladies in her aerobics group do not have similar problems. Can you give us a idea of what might be causing her rash and/or what she might use on her skin to prevent this from recurring? Thank you in advance for your advice! Sincerely.

Bill M., 11/12/2010

Firstly, a pool rash is a medical problem and your wife should seek appropriate medical advice. It is possible that your wife is sensitive to chlorine and/or some of the byproducts. Because it is not your pool, you can't very well change the sanitizer system. The fact, that she is the only one affected by the problem, does seem to point to sensitivity. However, her sensitivity could be the result of over chlorination or marginally adequate sanitation. The areas affected, by the rash, are places that will remain warm and damp, for well after swimming has ended. The cause of the rash is probably bacterial in nature and could, possibly, be avoided or minimized by a quick shower and removal of the bathing suit. Removing in a wet suit for hours can lead to problems. I hope that I have been of assistance.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 11/12/2010

Allergic Rash?

I had been teaching swimming lessons in this pool for about 1-1/2 yrs. when developing a rash suddenly. After going through the deductions of food or soap changes and deciding those were not the causes, came to the conclusion that it was the pool.  When checking with the pool maintenance staff for water treatment applications, I found out that they used bromine instead of chlorine.  After an abstinence of 2 weeks, I went to swim in a different pool that was treated with chlorine with no side effects.  Is it normal to develop a sudden allergy to bromine like this?  Is there something that I can use to prevent getting this as I am still teaching there?  The rash only occurs on my arms, trunk and upper legs and is severely itchy. I have been to a dermatologist which was a waste of time and money.  There is no testing that the medical field can do to determine if one is allergic to bromine and all he can do is treat it with an ointment which does not prevent the ugliness of the rash which resembles eczema or rosacea. Any suggestions?  My husband told me to find a different to pool to teach in. Help! I love swimming to much to give it up.

Susan, Pittsburgh, PA 4/25/2007

You've been to the doctor and that was the right thing to do. The following is strictly anecdotal and is not backed by any data that I have or have
Unltravioloet (UV) sterilizers, for all ypes of residential pools and spas. ever seen. The chemistry of chlorine and bromine is very similar and, in most instances, it is the bromine that seems to be less irritating. You are focusing the attention on the bromine part of the molecule. The other part of the molecule is dimethyl hydantoin or something closely related. When bromine is added to a pool, the hydantoin is an unavoidable byproduct and builds up over time. It is entirely possible that you are sensitive to this component of the bromine product. Perhaps, you could be tested for reactions to hydantoin compounds. If you are truly allergic to bromine and or the hydantoin compounds, there is nothing that will remove these materials from the pool water, in the near term, that is short of replacing the water. That seems to leave you needing to find another pool, at least temporarily. Many commercial pools have switched, from a total reliance on chlorine or bromine, to ozone generators or ultraviolet sterilizers. This helps reduce odors, destroys organic byproducts and reduces the levels of chemicals needed for proper sanitation. Good luck with the resolution of the problem. Please let me know how things turn out for you.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 4/25/2007

Stinging Eyes?

We have a 10,000 gallon pool. Last year the kids had a few episodes of irritating stinging eyes. What can I do to avoid this problem again. We will be opening the pool, in the next week or so. We use trichlor tablets. Thanks you for the help.

Gerry B., Virginia Beach, VA, 5/3/2007

High levels of chloramines is the most likely cause of stinging, irritated or red eyes. Ideally, the combined chlorine level (which primarily consists of chloramines) should not be more than 0.3 PPM. In practice, 1 PPM is probably
more attainable.  Combined Chlorine is theSaltron Reliant salt chlorine generator, for pools. difference between Total Chlorine and Free Chlorine. Shock treatment is the method of reducing the combined chlorine. You need 10 PPM of Free Chlorine to destroy 1 PPM of Combined Chlorine. The pH of the eye is 7.4. pH values that are much lower or higher can lead to irritating conditions. The trichlor tablets that you are using will lower the pH and can produce unacceptably low reading, if you do not make the proper adjustments. As the pH drops below 7.2, chlorine becomes more aggressive and irritating. In summation, the irritations are probably caused by high levels of combined chlorine and could be made worse by low pH conditions. The solution: pay more attention to the Free and Total Chlorine levels, as well as the pH. If there is some money in the budget, add an ultraviolet sterilizer. It will drastically lowered the amount of chlorine the pool will require and will destroy chloramines and infectious microorganisms, as the water passed through the unit. You'll still need chlorine, but a lot less and the conditions will be much more comfortable. Think about replacing the current chlorine products with a salt chlorine generator.  The water quality will be better and maintenance will be easier. I hope that things will work out better this season. Enjoy the summer.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/3/2007

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A Rash From Cyanuric Acid?

Our pool was recently refinished and was restarted as new. My wife develops a rash and welts every time she gets in the pool. This didn't happen in the old (20 yrs) one. Could she be allergic to the higher level of cyanuric acid?

Jack S., 9/8/2005

Not likely! If the pool was just refinished, your cyanuric acid level is near the optimum range. If you used a stabilized chlorine, in the pool before it was refinished, it is likely that the cyanuric acid level, at that time, was very much higher. If a stabilized chlorine was not used, I suppose there is a possibility that she is sensitive to cyanuric acid. But, cyanuric acid is present in most residential pools and has she ever had the problem elsewhere? You should seek a medical opinion as to the likely cause of the rash. I hope that I have been helpful.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 9/8/2005

High pH Rash?

Do you have any detailed information connecting skin rashes with high water pH?

David G., 4/7/2005

I have no detailed information on this topic. High pH can be irritating and this can contribute to chemical dermatitis. If you are experiencing a rash problem, I suggest that you seek medical attention, for treatment and a proper diagnosis. In addition, the high pH will reduce the effectiveness of chlorine and this can lead to conditions that foster the growth of infectious bacteria. At a pH of 8.0, chlorine has lost 1/2 of its effectiveness. At a pH of 9.0, effectiveness is nearly zero. I hope that I have been helpful.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 4/7/2005

Wet Bathing Suit Rash?

I have an above ground pool with a vinyl liner and every time my son and sometimes my daughter go in the pool they get a rash in the groin and leg area. I as well as my wife can go in the pool at the same time and for the same amount of time as them and we do not get it but the kids do. I have adjusted the chemicals to the proper level and keep it that way and do not understand what is causing this. Is it possible to have an allergic reaction to the vinyl liner? We have had two different pools in the past and last year we replaced the liner and since then this has been happening. The fact that I or my wife do not get the rash when in the same pool at the same time leads me to think that the pool may not be the problem have you ever heard of this happening in the past I am at a loss. We have explored everything from personal hygiene to pool water levels and I am wits end with this problem. I appreciate any help you can give me. Sincerely

Vincent K., Miami, Florida, 9/13/2009

I suggest that you discuss this with the family doctor to be on the safe side. It sounds like your sanitation could be borderline. Kids tend to spend
MegaChlor salt chlorine generator for spas, swim spas and pools up to 10,000 gallons. lots of time in the pool and can remain in wet bathing suits long after existing the pool. The combination of possible borderline sanitation and wet bathing suits can lead to rashes in the areas that remain damp for long periods of time. This seems to fit the facts. I suggest that you pay more attention to the free chlorine level and use a product such as the LaMotte Insta-Test strips. It will help you keep the free chlorine at 1-3 PPM.  In addition to better water chemistry, get the kids out of the wet bathing suits, as soon as possible! Because chlorine levels rise and fall, a more efficient sanitizer will not only help avoid sanitizing problems, it can allow you to use fewer chemicals overall.  A salt chlorine generator can produce and maintain the required Free Chlorine level, is easy to use and provides more control and better results, than traditional chlorine products. It is a better way to help sanitize your pool. I hope that I have been helpful. If so, please tell your friends and dealers about the website.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 9/14/2009

Rash Under Bathing Suit?

My daughter, occasionally, has gotten a rash under her bathing suit. What is causing this and how can I help avoid the problem? Thank you for the help.

Jennifer. O., 8/22/2006

This rash problem may or may not have anything to do with the effectiveness of the pool water maintenance. Obviously, bad sanitation practices will not help. Kids can spend a lot of time in the water. However, this is not a kids only problem. Wet bathing suits and warm bodies can allow for bacterial growth to occur in the creases of the bathing suit and the folds of the body. Some people are probably more sensitive than others. Remaining in a wet bathing for a long period of time, without going back into the water, is the likely cause of many bather comfort problems. If you're not going back into the water - don't hang around in a wet bathing suit, if possible.  A medical opinion should be sought for evaluation and treatment. I hope that I was of assistance.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 8/22/2006

Red Splotches?

Hi, I have just visited your website and thought to run this question by you. Today I took my kids to the sitter's house where they have small pool in their backyard with chemicals in it. But I am not sure what. When I called to check on my kids she said that my daughter who is 7 had got out of the pool an hour earlier and was broke out in red splotches all up and down her arms that were raised. She said they looked like welts. I have never heard of anything like this before. What I am wondering is if you have heard of anyone having that sort of a reaction to pools like that or if I should search elsewhere for clues of what it could be. Thanks very much.

Sara J., 5/3/2004

Yes, I have heard of this before. It is a medical matter and you should seek medical services. There are several possibilities. Inadequate pool water sanitation leading to a bacterial rash. Chemical dermatitis, due to improper chemical levels, and resulting in a chemical rash. Or sensitivity to something used in the water. Not knowing what the pool is being sanitized with makes it difficult to be more specific. If she was the only one affected, that could indicate a sensitivity, on her part, to the conditions in that particular pool. I am not qualified to determine which one is most likely, you'll need a doctor for that. Good luck and I hope that I have been helpful.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/3/2004

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