Swimmer’s Rash

Swim team has begun and the kids are in the pool a lot. The other night, my daughter said her legs were itching and it brought back memories of last year and itchy thighs. We tried to remember which daughter it was last year who suffered from itchy thighs, and finally remembered it was our other one. So this year it’s a different child, same ailment. My husband, who seems better at connecting the allergy causes than I am, said, “They’re back in the pool.”

I’ve written about odd allergies before, and I think this one falls into this category. You don’t hear about it too much, at least I don’t. And I think it’s odd that it happens to both my children in the exact same place, inner thighs. They get raised bumps, sometimes red, and they itch. And by the way, they swim year round and we didn’t see a breakout until they got in the neighborhood outdoor pool.

So what do we do? I’m not keeping them out of the pool all summer. It does help when you connect the cause, but then you have to figure out what to do. That’s when the internet comes in handy! After some investigative work, I found out that this is way more common than I thought. It’s sometimes called swimmer’s rash, though that name encompasses a lot of other things as well. I came up with a few options that would work for us without having to give up swim team or recreational swimming (a huge part of our summer!).

Apparently, it’s caused by the chlorine level in the pool. It may be high due to the number of younger children that use our pool. One great, easy solution is for my children to shower as soon as possible after swimming to get the chlorine off rather than let it sink into the skin too much. That can be their bath or shower for the day, even if it isn’t at bedtime. Another good solution I plan on trying is applying some Vaseline on their inner thighs before swimming. My older daughter thought it might have to do with her legs rubbing together during freestyle, who knows, it might. However, I did read some people get this on their torso around the rib cage as well as their thighs. There are some lotions on the market for swimmers specifically that look good (Dermaswim Pro), but I have yet to try them.

If the rash persists, try a good dermatologist recommended lotion like Cetaphil or Lubriderm on it or an antihistamine cream. You can also take an antihistamine like Benadryl for the itching if it’s more severe.

This is a different type of rash than the infectious type that people can get from hot tubs or lakes and streams. Those are caused by bacteria and are more of an infection, whereas what we see is definitely an allergic skin reaction.

Maybe this summer we can beat the rash and still enjoy the pool!


  1. Hi, same exact thing happened to me. I am 12 years old and recently have this skin condition. I am appyling hydrocortasone to ease the it h. It has also made a slight difference in the rash itself. Please email me at joeyo2233@gmail.com if u have found a solution. Thank you!

  2. Darn fred you posted that today too
    I got the rash from swimming yesterday, it SUCKS, it’s all over my body..
    cetaphil helps but doesnt remove the rashes and bumps

  3. My daughter started a swim day camp and she has a rash too on the inner thighs that is bumpy and itchy. First time this has ever happened.
    Yesterday I applied eczema aveeno cream and surprising by morning it was gone. There was immediate relief from the itchiness. Hope this helps.

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