6 week update added to bottom of this article. In other words, after using the shower filters for a six week period I report results.

Suddenly my face is much more irritated

Since I moved, I noticed that my face had a tendency towards greater irritation. By irritation I mean patches of red, flaky irritated skin along the sides of my nose along with dryness and irritation between my eyebrows. Those were the primary spots of irritation. Additionally, to my surprise, I started getting an occasional sort of  cystic bump. The bump was not a traditional pus-filled pimple. It was just a red and sort of hard bump. The type of bump that lingers and lingers and lingers.

How to explain new irritation

I thought all of this was quite strange and difficult to explain. After all, I hadn’t had this type of issue for many years. For a very long time I’ve been cruising through life without much of this stuff. I’d get a little tiny white-head pimple here and there. The type that you could just sort of scratch off, and it’d be gone without a trace quickly. But, I wasn’t having too much of the red and flaky skin on my face. And, I’d almost never get those sort of cystic bumps.

Past facial skin problems

I’m not saying that my facial skin was perfect by any means! For instance, in high school I definitely had traditional acne pustules. That wasn’t a very pleasant experience. But, even then I didn’t have these cystic bumps. And, I also didn’t have much of the eczema or psoriasis or dermatitis or WHATEVER it is type of red and flaky skin.

Hard water and soft water

Let’s talk for a minute about hard water and soft water: what it means and why it might matter.

The short answer is that water is considered “hard water” if it has a high mineral content in it. Much more could be said, but it’s really that basic fact that’s our main interest. Different areas of the world have water that differs in respect to its “hardness.”

“Some of the minerals in hard water, such as calcium and iron, form ‘free radicals’. These attack your skin and damage healthy skin cells. Hard water minerals also prevent the natural oils in your skin from doing what they’re meant to do.” source

Hard water contains dissolved calcium, magnesium, and often, iron.

Is hard water my problem?

As they say, “correlation is not causation.” Nonetheless, this is how the human mind works. My skin wasn’t irritated. I moved. Now, my skin’s irritated. I’m going to say there’s a connection there. Doesn’t have to be! But, I’m human, and this is how the human mind works. And, it works this way for very good reason.

So, all things being equal…the main variable that has changed, I believe, is the hardness level of the water! It just sort of stands to reason…basic common sense…that if your water now suddenly contains a bunch of calcium, magnesium and iron…well, it seems like that could be responsible for skin irritation. Not necessarily! I GET THAT! But, it’s a reasonable hypothesis I think.

Other possibilities

From my reading, I see it’s also possible that the shower head has limescale and mold on it (and/or in the hose). This is actually a consequence of hard water. I’m listing it as another possibility mainly because it can be treated in a different manner (cleaning the head and hose).

Easiest solution

There are guides about how to clean your showerhead. Additionally, there are shower head replacements. I’m still looking into the best option for me.

Here is a video that shows how to install a filtered water softener shower head by yourself:

Further reading

Washing with hard water may be making our acne worse
A Guide to the Effects of Hard Water on Skin

Six Week Update

I did purchase shower and sink filters six weeks ago. My theory was that the “hard water” in my new location was irritating my skin.

Now, this isn’t a perfect experiment because there can always be different variables at work. However, as far as I know, most of the other elements in my life have stayed mostly the same with the exception of I started using the Vanicream wash

I can say that after using the shower filters for six weeks I am no longer experiencing the red bumps. Since moving, I suddenly started getting a red bump here and there that wasn’t a pus-filled acne bump. I found this strange and baffling. Well, I can tell you that since getting the filters, this has stopped.

Since getting the filters, my red, dry, flaky sort of psoriasis has not entirely gone away. But, it has improved by I’d say over 50%. I’ve also been using just the Vanicream wash around the same time. Previously I had been using an Aveeno wash. I know for certain, though, that the Aveeno wash wasn’t causing the red bumps because they preceded me getting the Aveeno wash. That’s pretty much the only variable that changed, and I don’t think it has any significance.

I feel fairly safe in saying that the water filter has helped significantly. And, it makes sense. This isn’t some wild theory. It seems sensible that the unfiltered, hard water had some type of something that was irritating to my skin.