View Full Version : Goggle Allergy

May 19th, 2005, 01:06 PM
I have been swimming for 24 years and suddenly I have become allergic to most goggles that I try!
For many years I used the hind compy-style goggles with the foam eye protection. Then suddently I started getting red rings around my eyes that would itch and turn flaky. Very embarrassing! A friend told me to try these speedo hypoallergenic goggles. So I did and my red ring problem went away! For a while, anyway. Now it's about 2 years later and I suddenly started getting the allergy to these, "hypoallergenic" goggles. Does anyone have any ideas? Apparently I must have developed a sudden sensitivity to whatever is in that foam and now to rubber.

Thanks for any help!


May 19th, 2005, 01:21 PM
I am not a scientist nor a college grad. But it would seem that the simplest solution would be not to wear goggles that have the foam. Get a pair of Swedes, or ones that are similar. It could also be a combination of the chlorine and the material... but like I said, I'm no scientist.

May 19th, 2005, 01:26 PM
Is there any chance it's how you wear them versus some allergy? Have you tried loosening them up?

May 19th, 2005, 05:06 PM
I swim with a woman who had a similar problem last year. She had been swimming for 20 years with no problems. All of a sudden last spring, at the end of our workouts she would take off her goggles and her eyelids and the surrounding skin would be red and puffy. It was weird. She tried brand-new goggles as well as a different style of goggle but it didn't help. She went to several doctors and finally to a dermatologist.

The dermatologist did a bunch of allergy tests (the ones where they inject a small amount of an allergen under the skin, then wait a few days to see whether there's a reaction). The dermatologist actually took a pair of her swimming goggles, ground them up, and used that for one of the skin tests.

The tests showed that she was sensitive to a few various things (parabens is one that sticks in my mind). But you know what finally solved her problem? A new POOL MANAGER. The new manager fixed some broken pool equipment and got the pool water cleaned up. Her problems magically went away.

You might ask your pool staff whether they've changed chemicals or systems recently. If they say no, try swimming in a different pool for a while to see whether the problem goes away. If it does, you'll know it's something in your pool.

May 19th, 2005, 08:37 PM
what a great response... and the fact that the goggles just hold the alergen against the skin causes it to react right there.


May 20th, 2005, 11:00 AM
I agree! that's a great way to start narrowing it down for sure, and less expensive than going straight to an allergist. :)

I had a similar problem after my goggles sat in my bag for a 4 month hiatus (spelling?) from swimming. I didn't get flaky skin, but noticed that not too long after I got out of the pool my nose would start running and I'd start sneezing..

then I noticed mold had grown on the gaskets of my goggles, and I assume I developed an allergy to it. I've never had allergies in my life!.. I was of course in denial for a bit, but I washed the goggles out well, scrubbed the gaskets with a toothbrush, and cleaned my system out a bit, (started eating better and drinking more water etc...), and I don't notice it nearly as much anymore, and it's still getting better!

good luck with it!

May 23rd, 2005, 11:31 AM
Thanks everyone for your advice!
I'm going to start with the swede-type goggles, then check with the pool manager if this doesn't clear up.


May 23rd, 2005, 11:46 AM
I'm allergic to the old foam that they used to use. Now i use Speedos that don't have foam. They ones I like the best have the two layers of plastic I forgot their name CGC or something liek that.

Tim Hedrick
May 24th, 2005, 02:56 AM
I had this problem too - with the GCG goggles.

After the rashes and burning became "regular" (i.e. more than once) I tried talking it up with the pool management chain of command and they swore up and down that nothing changed in the pool's chemical stew. When the same thing continued to happen at another pool I figured it was something I was now bringing with me - embedded in the foam perhaps. Still, I was using that pair of goggles for several weeks before the symptoms appeared, but once appeared, it didn't matter which pool.

My ophthalmologist teammate recommended that I toss the goggles. Best free doctor advice I ever received. Got myself some Swedes and the problem went away - but not the rings that are somewhat permanently burned into my forehead for when I rested the goggles up there to give my eyes a break. I call them character marks. After a couple of workouts the pressure from the swedes hurt my eyes. I then found that the Tyr Socket Rocket goggles, with their rubber gasket, work just fine.

Your mileage may vary. Hope the problem clears quickly though Kevin!


September 16th, 2008, 01:44 PM
Any new thoughts here since the last post years ago? KevinK, how are those Swedes, that bda721 mentions, working out? I might give that a try and the Tyr Socket Rockets that Tim Hedrick mentions.
Since I was a kid, it hasn’t mattered what goggles I use, but now suddenly this year, I’ve been getting a contact dermatitis going on, just like a lot of others described in this thread. I think I’ve been using the cheapo Speedo Sprint goggles with neoprene gaskets. My dermatologist suggested allergy tests like Jayhawk mentions, but that's awfully extreme.
I rotate between two or three pairs of them, some brand new (I carry a grab bag of stuff so if I lose one or break one, I can keep going.). So much for jswim's mold theory.
I also rotate my workouts between different pools in different parts of the country (between work travel, etc). So much for Jayhawk's pool theory?
I was about to try a different pair of goggles, maybe silicone or the hypoallergenic goggles. But I fear to repeat KevinK's experience of having the allergies return. It sounds like GCG may not work according to Tim Hedrick's post.

September 16th, 2008, 04:51 PM
GCG goggles have foam. They have two densities of foam. GCG = graduated compression gasket. The layer that touches your skin is neoprene (foam).

Other goggles like the Vanquisher use a silicone gasket. It shouldn't absorb any irritating chemicals.

One other interesting thing I noticed some time ago - I used to put my Vanquishers in the case they came it - to keep them from getting scratched up so quickly. But they didn't dry so well in the case and I noticed after a month during the summer that they developed a small amount of mold inside the plastic lens.

I stopped putting them in the case and the problem stopped. I also put them in the dishwasher in the utensil rack (a portion of the rack has a lid) to clean them. Works VERY well to clean the grunge that develops on the goggle.

September 16th, 2008, 05:12 PM
I also put them in the dishwasher in the utensil rack (a portion of the rack has a lid) to clean them. Works VERY well to clean the grunge that develops on the goggle.


October 3rd, 2008, 11:24 AM
The dermatologist actually took a pair of her swimming goggles, ground them up, and used that for one of the skin tests.

If only all doctors were that dedicated to solving their patients' problems!!!

October 3rd, 2008, 03:27 PM
I had this problem too - with the GCG goggles.


OMG...TIM! I'll have to send you a PM. Do you remember me from Oxnard Swim Club? You were older than I was....you had a couple of records there on the OHS wall above the pool. I know this post is old...hoping you are still around! Mary

October 4th, 2008, 11:40 AM
I use the Barracuda Standards, they have got a big foamy seal. This is made of a white hypoallergenic foam . I have seen some swimmers with this exact goggle where the foam is brown ..gross really and wondered how anyone could put that on their face. Every now and then my goggles will start to get some black specks..mold. thats when I clean them up with a bleach bath and their like new. Barracuda changed the foam a couple years back to black.. I guess so people won't see the mold maybe..But I got to thinking it would still be there. Goggles with black or dark plastic seals or black foam seals can get a mold on them and you will not see it. Also notice how a fiilm builds up on goggle lenses. Thats from the pool water and that film also builds up in the goggle seal

My advise take your goggles and give them a good cleaning and rinseing now and then like others here have suggested.

October 4th, 2008, 11:58 AM
Nearly all goggles are made in China. You never know how they are made and with what.

October 6th, 2008, 01:10 PM
Nearly all goggles are made in China. You never know how they are made and with what.

I remember that the cheapo Speedo Sprints, that I've been using for decades, used to be made in Canada.
I wonder if the switch to manufacture in China has something to do with my new goggle allergies.
I've now been using the Tyre Socket Rockets for about a month without skin reactions. The scars from the dermatitis look like they're healing okay. I've been waiting for them to get completely healed before doing the wedding anniversary photos with my wife, delayed for several months now because of the dermatitis.