Chlorine Cost Me My Hair!

David Wilkie 1 David Wilkie swimmer 2
So says 62-year old former 1970s Olympic Swimmer, David Wilkie, once famed for his lustrous flowing locks.

With his twinkly eyes and Scottish-American drawl, David is often mistaken for Sean Connery, and he has kept an enviable figure too, but he still wistfully recalls the days when his crowning glory dominated and he was constantly nagged to get a haircut by swimming coaches, anxious it would impede his aquatic aerodynamics, if not look girly.

‘I’m allergic to chlorine’ he admits. ‘It’s a harsh chemical. Makes you itch. My dad warned me I’d lose the hair if I kept up the swimming.’

David claims a lot of swimmers lose their hair. But is he right?

Should Tom Daly be worried?

Chlorine is certainly known to dry out the skin and hair, potentially leading to premature wrinkles and brittle hair in those who swim regularly. It can also cause hair and nail discolouration over time. Then there is the constant showering and hair washing required afterwards, which is undoubtedly hard on both. Swimming caps can protect hair to a certain extent, though personally I never found one which was 100% leak proof. I myself had to give up swimming because chlorine made my eyes stream for hours afterwards, so I must have had an allergy too.

Various surveys to date seem to conclude that there is no evidence swimmers are more (or less) likely to lose their hair than the rest of the populace.

The general rule of thumb is that as long as the pool is properly cleaned and maintained and the Alkaline PH level in the pool is measured regularly to ensure it is correct, there should be no long term adverse health effects, except the desired ones.