Bromine allergy: symptoms and treatment

Used to disinfect swimming pool water, bromine is an interesting alternative to chlorine because it is less irritating and better tolerated by most people. But although rare, bromine allergy exists. It is part of the class 4 allergies, also called delayed allergies. What are the symptoms? Is there a treatment?

What is bromine?

Bromine is a chemical element of the halogen family. It is used to eliminate bacteria and germs in swimming pools. “Bromine is much more effective than chlorine” explains Dr. Julien Cottet. “It is more disinfectant and is bactericidal, fungicidal and virucidal at the same time. It is also more resistant to heat and alkaline environments and is more stable to UV rays. However, it is more expensive than chlorine and is still not widely used in French swimming pools.

Bromine is also used as a water purifier, so it can be found in drinking water, but almost never in high enough concentration to cause an allergy.

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Causes of bromine allergy

There are no known causes, nor is there a typical profile of people allergic to bromine.

“However, as with all respiratory and skin allergies, patients with atopic dermatitis are more at risk,” says the allergist. Similarly, overexposure to any allergen increases the risk of developing an allergy.

Symptoms of bromine allergy

Symptoms of bromine allergy can vary depending on the severity of the allergy and the bromine concentration in the water. There are two types of bromine allergy symptoms.

Skin symptoms

They occur several minutes after swimming and can be :

  • Dry skin, known as xerosis,
  • Patches of eczema with scaling,
  • Itching,
  • Cracks,
  • Conjunctivitis,
  • Redness.

Respiratory symptoms

They occur more quickly, often during swimming:

  • Rhinitis,
  • Coughing,
  • Wheezing,
  • Chest tightness,
  • Respiratory discomfort.

In the presence of one or more of these symptoms after swimming in a pool treated with bromine, it is essential to make an appointment with an allergist to verify the diagnosis.

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Treatments for bromine allergy

There is no treatment for bromine allergy. “The allergist concludes: “Only avoidance can improve the situation.

Alternative solutions to the use of bromine

To limit allergic reactions to bromine, it is necessary to maintain the pool perfectly, the dangers of bromine being mainly linked to its overdose. “The concentration of bromine must be monitored regularly and never exceed 5 mg per liter of water” insists Dr. Cottet.

If possible, it is advisable to avoid swimming in pools treated with bromine.

When in doubt about the water treatment used: when leaving the pool, it is essential to shower and wash thoroughly with a soap-free cleansing oil. “Bromine is much more difficult to remove than chlorine,” says the allergist.

The patient can then moisturize the skin with emollients and in case of eczema plaque, he can use dermocorticoid creams.

Bathing suits should also be machine washed thoroughly to remove all traces of bromine.