Does Chlorine Cause Hair Loss?

The Facts:

A long, vigorous swim may be good for your heart, but scientists have long questioned whether the high levels of chlorine in many swimming pools can have some less desirable effects on your hair and skin.

Studies have found certain effects, but hair loss may not be one of them. One of several studies on the topic was published in 2000 in the journal Dermatology.

In that study, a team of researchers examined 67 professional swimmers and 54 nonswimmers. The researchers found that 61 percent of the swimmers showed signs of hair discoloration, compared with none of the nonswimmers.

The scientists also found that the hair discoloration coincided with surface damage of the swimmers' nail plates, apparently due to chlorine.

But although the swimmers' hair appeared coarse and damaged, they did not have higher rates of hair loss. The researchers speculated that the differences might also have been due to what they described as "cuticle damage by friction with water."

Any damage caused by chlorine can partly be averted by using chlorine-removing shampoos and conditioners.

The Bottom Line?

Chlorine in swimming pools can damage hair, but not necessarily make it fall out.

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