Monday, June 17th, 2019 by Mike Ohlinger
Typically when we talk about the negative effects of hard water, we tend to gravitate towards visions of hopelessly clogged pipes, scaly white residue on our bathroom fixtures, and the lifetime of our counter-top coffee machines being cut dramatically short. We focus on the toll that hard water takes on the health of our home and the water-using appliances that keep it running smoothly.
One of the most prominent places where the effects of hard water are most visible is in the shower. You may have noticed a gradual decrease in water pressure over time and a slow buildup of unsightly white scale on your tile, faucets, and shower head. These telltale signs paint an ugly picture of the potential damage that hard water can cause. But something that we tend to overlook is the question of “how does hard water affect us?” If hard water can leave behind layers of residue and scale throughout our home, what is it doing to our skin when we shower and bathe in it every day?
The same dissolved hard water minerals (magnesium and calcium) that wreak havoc on your showerhead and faucet also have the potential to impact the health of your skin. One of the most pronounced effects of these hard water minerals coming in contact with your skin in the shower is dryness. Like the residue on your faucet, hard water minerals get left behind on your skin after a shower or bath. These minerals stay on you between washes and absorb some of the natural oils that your body produces to keep your skin moisturized and healthy. This can eventually lead to clogged pores, acne breakouts, and dry, itchy skin.
In addition, hard water decreases the effectiveness of your favorite body wash or soap, requiring more of it to work up a lather. This also means that more water and more effort is required to remove any residual soap following your shower. Even with that extra scrubbing time, you will often be left with a layer of soap scum following a hard-water shower, something that can further contribute to dried out, flaky skin.
The real frustration comes in the realization that taking another shower or switching soaps in the bathtub won’t help to tackle your dry skin problem since the water itself may be the culprit.
Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) is a chronic dry skin condition that affects 7% of adults and 13% of children in the United States and is characterized by severe itching, red-brown skin patches across the body, cracked and scaly skin, and swollen portions of the skin that flare up following scratching. Individuals who suffer from this condition are urged to focus on keeping skin moisturized and healthy to prevent symptoms from flaring up.
While there is no evidence of hard water actually causing eczema for people who don’t already have it, hard water is believed to worsen symptoms for people who do struggle with the condition. Healthy skin has a protective barrier that retains moisture which shields the skin and the rest of the body from bacteria, allergens and other irritants in the environment around you.
Eczema affects the skin’s ability to build and maintain this protective barrier, making it especially susceptible to the dissolved mineral irritants found in hard water. Additionally, hard water’s higher alkalinity (7 pH or higher) can disrupt the skin’s natural pH balance, further increasing the potential for skin irritation. This opens up eczema sufferers to environmental triggers such as weather, heat, and detergents which can dramatically worsen symptoms.
While there are a number of other potential factors that could cause dry skin or exacerbate eczema symptoms that should be eliminated first, choosing to switch to softened water in your home could help to alleviate some of these issues. Once you have made the switch, you will likely start to notice several changes in regards to your showering and skin-care regimes.
If you are ready to see the effects of soft water on your skin, Evolve features a line of the most advanced water softeners on the market. If you live in the city and are experiencing large amounts of chlorine in your water in addition to hardness, consider asking your local authorized dealer about the Evolve EVRC system. This split tank unit combines the chlorine removal abilities of activated carbon with the hardness busting capabilities of resin media, leaving your water soft and odor free. Contact your Evolve dealer to schedule a water test today!