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eczema and swimming
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eczema and swimming

I am 61. I was a master swimmer for over 25 years.  I quit in 1996 because I began to get a rash when I swam, primarily arms, legs, stomach. It was initially diagnosed as a fungus by a general practiioner and after I ingested a bunch of antifungal prescriptions with no results, a dematologist took a scraping and diagnosed it as excema.  He prescribed aclovate (.05%) cream and lubriderm.  The aclovate helps but I can't keep up with the excema when I swim in a pool regularly.  If I don't swim I don't have much of a problem but I do have one very smallspot about an inch square on my forearm that requires aclovate sometimes to settle it down. My problem is that I would really like to swim.  It is good for some many other things that I wish I could find a way to keep the excema at bay.  I gather it isn't curable. It seems that chlorinated pools affect me more than the lakes or ocean.  Are there techniques to use that will minimize the impact of the chlorine, i.e., extended fresh water showers, immediate coverage with lubriderm or equivalent, etc? I have been invited to participate in a team triathalon in the British Virgin Islands.  I will need to train which I can do in the ocean to some extent but the pool is much better for building endurance through intervals, etc. Thank you for any help you can provide.
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People continually ask me whether chlorinated pool water aggravates eczema.  I answer with a firm negative.  I have seen amny eczematous patients who don't swim, and swimmers with pristine skin.   You should have little trouble controlling your eczema despite swimming as much as you like.

Aclovate is a very nice steroid, but a very weak one.  You can use much stronger preparations on non-face parts of the skin, and there are new, non-steroid creams available which are also excellent, like Protopic or Elidel.

"Barrier" creams are greasy; in general, moisturizers are OK but don't add much.

I would therefore ask a doctor to evaluate your suitability for a stronger eczema cream.

I hope you win, eczema and all!

Best.

Dr. Rockoff
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