There are two elements in tap water that effect the skin and seborrheic dermatitis. Both can be highly problematic for skin, and can actually be the cause for skin conditions. So let’s take a look at both of them…
Chlorine & Chloramines
Chlorine and Chloramines are two big offenders for skin conditions that go under the radar. Chlorine is very harsh and drying on the skin, and many individuals (myself included) even have sensitivities to it.
The outermost layer of your skin contains a dense network of protein and keratins that help keep your skin hydrated and prevent water evaporation. Your skin essentially acts as a sponge, and these cells absorb water which helps the skin achieve its “springy” natural shape. When chlorinated water is left on the skin it reacts with these skin cells and creates dry, flaky, itchy skin. It does this by stripping the skin of its natural oils and protective layer, causing it to dry and crack. High chlorine levels in your tap water can undoubtedly cause skin conditions by compromising the skin’s protective barrier and through sensitivities.
The good news is that chlorine is relatively easy to filter from water. The bad news, is that chloramine is not. Unfortunately, over the past number of years water municipalities across the United States have been switching to using chloramines in their tap water. Chloramine is a chemical bond of chlorine and ammonia. While chlorine evaporates quickly and is relatively easy to filter from water, Chloramine does not evaporate easily and is very difficult to filter. VERY difficult. Hospitals and facilities with major water filtration systems have had to upgrade their water filter systems to accommodate filtering chloramines. Unfortunately most people with existing water filtration systems are don’t realize that their chlorine filters are doing absolutely nothing to filter the chloramines that may now be in their water. I firmly believe it’s one of the reasons newly developed skin issues are cropping up for people across the country, along with a host of other ailments. It’s truly unfortunate how unaware the general public is regarding this matter.
Water municipalities love chloramine because it’s CHEAP and they can more easily meet the EPA’s water standards. They are knowingly poisoning the population, and won’t do anything about it as long as it saves money and makes their lives easier. A fun fact about chloramine is how it eats away at metals and leaches lead into the water from old lead pipes and brass fixtures in homes. When chloramines replaced chlorine in Washington DC, it was found that the lead levels in the water increased by 83 times the “safe” limit and left thousands of children with life long disabilities. Let’s say that again…83 times the “safe” limit!” Investigations also discovered widespread misreporting, falsified reports., and coverup by the EPA and officials. So…I would just like to say…do not trust water municipalities or the EPA! Need more convincing…just Google “Flint, Michigan Water”. Stay safe people and don’t let criminals who really don’t care about your health decide if you should consume poisons or not.
Have you ever scrubbed a shower for hours trying to remove soap scum, or noticed calcium deposits on fixtures, or wondered about those white water marks on pots and glasses? Well folks, that is the result of hard water, and it’s horrible for your skin. That same soap scum you see building up in your shower also leaves a soap residue on your skin. Here’s how it works…
Hard water has high levels of dissolved solids in it like calcium, magnesium, iron, aluminum, etc. These minerals are insoluble. Meaning, they are completely dissolved in the water. And for a molecule to remain dissolved in water, it needs to have either a positive or negative charge. The minerals in hard water happen to have a strong positive charge to them. On the opposite end, soap molecules have a negative charge. So when the positively charged minerals in the water come into contact with the negatively charged molecules in soap, they bond together and create a soap residue (“soap scum”). This happens because when they bond together their positive and negative charges are eliminated (they no longer have a charge at all) and the bonded molecule (soap scum) can no longer remain dissolved in the water.
This soap residue layer that’s left on your skin can make your skin dry, itchy, and very irritated. It basically traps the soap and minerals on your skin and clogs your pores. It also makes your effects your scalp and can cause dry, brittle, thinning hair. So when trying to tackle seborrheic dermatitis, it’s good to make sure you are washing with soft water and aren’t leaving a layer of soap residue on your skin, scalp, and hair.
Her’s what you can do about it…
Solution For Chlorine/Chloramines & Hard Water
If you want to filter chlorine/chloramines and soften your water, please check out my post on How To Soften Your Water And Filter Chlorine And Chloramines. It shows you the best way to filter and soften your water whether you live in a home or rent an apartment. If you’re not sure how to check your water for chlorine/chloramines and hardness levels, my article How To Check Your Water will show you how to do so.
In the meantime, here are some temporary solutions you can use to test results washing with soft filtered water.
Washing with bottled water – this can be used when both washing your face and washing your hair and scalp. Keep in mind that bottled spring water can still have a degree of harness to it, but it is usually much softer than most hard tap water. While this can be more challenging when washing the scalp it is still “do-able” to test the results for a week if needed. If you see positive results you can look at more permanent water filtration solutions.
Washing with sea salt or non-soap cleansers – by using you sea salt you eliminate the possibility of soap residue forming on the skin if you have hard water. Just make sure you are rinsing with bottled water, because the mineral and metals in hard water can still stick to the skin and cause irritation on their own. The water spots you see on glasses or dishes aren’t a residue, they are simply deposits. The difference is that they can be rinsed away with fresh/soft water, and the residue cannot. So keep that in mind.
Vitamin C powder – You can completely eliminate chloramine by using vitamin C. If you want to take a chloramine free bath, you can do so by sprinkling Vitamin C Powder in the bathtub. Doing this almost instantly gets eliminates chloramine from the water and you can start bathing right away. You can also use this powder in drinking water as well and you get the added benefit of vitamin C in your water. You can also slice lemons and add them to a pitcher of water to eliminate chloramines. However, if you use lemons it will take 30 minutes until the chloramines are eliminated from a pitcher of water. It’s easy to find Vitamin C Powder almost anywhere, and I usually buy mine at Trader Joe’s somewhere around $8. They call it “Vitamin C Crystals”, but it’s vitamin c powder (absorbic acid). The only problem with the vitamin c powder solution is that it only gets rid of the chlorine in the chloramine bond and not the ammonia. Since high levels of ammonia could be a big part of peoples’ reaction to chloramines this could be an issue. You can read more about this and find out how to get rid of the ammonia by reading my How To Filter Your Water article.
FYI, someone asked me about boiling water. It’s not really feasible to eliminate chloramines by boiling water. It would take at least 30 minutes of boiling to completely eliminate chloramines from just a few cups of water.