Water. We drink it, bathe in it, swim in it, cook with it and wash our clothing, cars and dishes in it. Did you know that water may be the cause of your skin itching and dryness?
When our skin is dry or itchy, we tend to apply more moisturizer because we believe that a lack of hydration is the issue. In reality, we may be failing to address the root problem -- the pH of your water may be the true culprit.
What is pH?
The pH (potential of hydrogen) scale measures whether something is an acid or a base (alkaline). Pure water has a pH factor close to 7. This is considered neutral, meaning it is neither acidic nor alkaline. In a perfect world, all water would have a neutral pH, which would be ideal for the skin. We know, though, that the water of pH can actually vary.
Skincare troubles arise when our skin's pH gets disrupted
Normal adult skin has a pH of between 4.5 and 5.5. This slightly acidic pH is a result of the carbon dioxide in the air and our own acid mantle. The acid mantle is a protective layer over our skin, which is comprised of our natural sebum, sweat and healthy flora.
Our skin's pH can be disrupted -- and that is when skin conditions can arise. If our skin's pH gets too high, bacteria develop and conditions such as eczema and psoriasis are more likely to occur. Sometimes, it is a matter of an infection that affects our pH. Other times, it's in the products you are using. Skincare products, for example, have their own pH. An alkaline cleanser can strip away the natural moisture from the acid mantle and wreak havoc on your skin.
Your water might be the source of your itchy and dry skin
While pure water has a pH of 7, it's important to remember that this can vary wildly. You've more than likely heard the term "hard" water. Hard water is alkaline and a common problem. Our water sources are often full of calcium ions, iron and magnesium. Other minerals are commonly present, as is chlorine.
Those trace minerals build up. If you have a hard time keeping your tiles clean because of "soap scum" or find that your cleansers are not lathering well, it is often because of hard water. This creates a vicious cycle -- you're not getting that lather, so you add more products. You rinse it all off, but because of the hard water, a residue is left behind. In addition to the minerals being left on your skin, soap and other ingredients get left on the skin. The end result is flaky, itchy, dry skin.
What can you do if you water is too alkaline? Simplicity is the remedy. All too often, people treat their dry and itchy skin with over the counter cortisone creams. This is not a good idea as the ingredients may be absorbed through your skin and into the bloodstream. A better option is to treat the skin with an extra gentle, fragrance-free, soap-free cleanser that will not affect the pH of your skin.