Hard Water and Your Skin
If you suffer from chronic dry skin, you probably have already tried every lotion, moisturizer and cream on the market. Regardless of which product you currently use now or have used in the past, and no matter the frequency of its use, you probably have seen the condition persist no matter what. The good news is you don’t just have to suffer and live with this condition, as it is quite possibly caused by a simple environmental factor. Hard water is a very common problem in Nebraska and it could be that the water you use to wash your dishes, linens and clothes, bathe in and even drink is a major contributor to your dry skin problem.
Why is Water Hard?
Neutral water is measured at 7 on the pH scale, which is extremely close to the natural 7.3 pH of the human body. On the other hand, hard water is highly alkaline, with high levels of calcium, magnesium or iron ions. As a result, hard water can make it difficult for substances such as soaps or detergents to properly dissolve into the water and function. This can mean difficulty lathering or problems rinsing out any soapy or detergent residues. Additionally, hard water can allow minerals deposits to accumulate in pipes and plumbing which can cause scale build up clogs and damage. While the effects of hard water can be problematic and costly on water using appliances, such as dishwashers, washing machines and water heaters, the effect on your skin can be less obvious, but just as damaging.
Your Skin and Hard Water:
Minerals such as calcium, magnesium or iron in hard water can leave a surface residue on clothing, plumbing fixtures and also your skin and hair. This can lead to skin irritations where the pores become clogged, much like your pipes. But hard water can also mean that shampoos, soaps and other cleansing products do not effectively lather up, leading to increased usage. This leads to augmented residue build up on your skin, which can further clog the skin pores, causing dry, itchy and flaky skin, that can be especially problematic for sensitive areas such as the face, where your skin may feel particularly reddened and irritated. In other words it’s a vicious cycle.
You may also find that irritated skin is further inflamed by chafing and rubbing of clothing washed in hard water which feels rougher on the skin, much like light sand paper. Of course, if you already have a pre-existing skin condition, such as contact dermatitis, or eczema, hard water can be even more damaging. While hard water itself will not cause a skin condition, it could initiate a flare-up or irritate an existing one. These effects are particularly apparent with people who frequently wash their hands for a living because of their work. These folks may find that the combination of soaps and hard water cause dry, irritated and reddened skin.
How to Deal with Hard Water:
The best way to remedy hard water in Nebraska is to soften it. This process involves removing the calcium and magnesium ions from the water. Most home water softening appliances use ion exchange methods to achieve this effect. These units exchange the calcium or magnesium ions which are causing the hardness to begin with, for sodium or potassium chloride ions. Softening the water allows for soaps and detergents to be much more efficiently rinsed from clothing and skin which can reduce the risk of pores becoming clogged, allowing moisture to be properly absorbed by the skin, keeping it healthy and soft.
About The Author, Terry Reeh, EcoWater Systems of Nebraska:
With more than 25 years experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Terry is a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified water specialist, LEVEL 3, as well as a WQA certified sales representative. EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is one of the biggest water treatment and water delivery businesses in the state and Terry currently sits on EcoWater Systems (a Berkshire Hathaway Company) national Peers committee, as a water treatment expert advising other water professionals with less experience on best trade and technology practices.