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Safe waters

Kavita Devgan 

Kavita Devgan tells you how to stay healthy in the pool.

is here...nearly, and beckon. But sun, water and sometimes make for a dodgy combination. Here are some things you need to know.

May cause — sunburn, wrinkles, freckles, texture changes

What to do
Usually the hours between 11 am and 4 pm are the most hazardous for UV (ultra violet rays) exposure, so ideally go for a swim before or after.

You need a broad spectrum (which contains both and UVB protection) and water-proof sunscreen (Suncros Aquagel, Sper) which is SPF15 or more. Apply 20 minutes before the swim on all exposed areas of the body — even the tops of your ears and feet. Reapply every two hours while swimming. And men, shave after your morning swim to avoid excessive tanning (shaving exfoliates and causes more exposure).

When you are out of the pool, wear a hat (one that shades your head and neck) and sunglasses that block both and UVB rays. Your sun lenses should offer as much eye coverage as possible — wraparound shades are a good example, and when buying choose substance over style.


May cause — dry, flaky, itchy, irritated skin

What to do
Don’t leave the pool water on your for extended periods of time. Use a salt scrub (Body Shop, Lush). The salt removes the smell of from your skin. Then wash with soap or shower gel and moisturise.

May cause — excessive dryness

What to do
Water itself (ironically) removes moisture from the skin. The layer of oil present on the skin that locks in moisture disappears when immersed in water, leading to dryness. To combat this, after showering (following the swim), pat dry instead of rubbing. And while the skin is still damp apply a rich moisturizer (lotions with alpha hydroxyl, lactic or glycolic acids which penetrate deeply) like Sensiphase Cream, or Proemol (available at chemists) on the face and a regular body lotion all over the body. Use an SPF lip protector or lip balm. Finally, be sure to drink lots of water to stay hydrated throughout your time in the pool and in the sun.

May cause — swimmers itch and rash

What to do
Community pools are best avoided for those with very sensitive skin. Shower with warm water and use an anti-bacterial soap before entering the water and after leaving the swimming pool. Consult your doctor if the condition persists. Leak proof rubber pants could help prevent some infections.

With expert inputs from
Dr Shehla Agarwal, a Delhi-based dermatologist


Rinse your hair with fresh water before you dive in. Hair that’s already wet soaks less Don’t shampoo before you enter the pool — it can strip your hair of natural oils and other grime that can act as a barrier between hair and chemicals. You can massage in a leave-in conditioner though. Water proof caps are absolutely essential. Post-swim, use a specialised “repair” shampoo and conditioner, use the low setting on the blow dryer and a wide-tooth comb instead of a brush.

First Published: Sat, March 20 2010. 00:12 IST