Article Objective

To highlight the irritation potential that ‘hard’ shower water and ‘unfiltered’ water has on sensitive rosacea skin and detail several filter systems that fit directly in the shower and remove these harsh irritants and soften the water.

Hard Water and its Effect on Sensitive Skin

hard water effects on rosacea skin

If hard water does this to your homes pipes, can you imagine what it leaves behind when showering let alone drinking?

Most rosacea sufferers have sensitive skin.  For most, this is a life-long fact and pro-active efforts are often required to avoid topical irritants to help keep rosacea flares in check.  Many rosacea sufferers are well-instructed on avoiding harsh facial cleansers, toners, moisturizers, exfoliants and anti-aging products.  But what many rosacea sufferers don’t know is that typical unfiltered water from faucets, showers or bath water is a potent irritant to facial skin that not only damages facial skin, but can trigger the release of inflammatory substances from the epidermis and increase penetration of facial cleansers by up to 20-fold — which greatly increases the irritation potential of any topical chemical placed on the face during a shower or bath (facial cleanser chemicals are not suppose to penetrate the outer epidermis) and can cause irritation and skin inflammation for up to twenty minutes after showering.  This can result in facial redness, flushing, burning, itching and dry-taut, uncomfortable skin sensations.

[message_box title=”Did you know…” color=”red”]Dozens of clinical studies by Dermatologists demonstrate that ‘hard’, ‘unfiltered’ water not only irritates sensitive skin, superficial sensory nerves and underlying blood vessels, but that ‘hard’ water can physically damage skin cells within 15 to 30 seconds of exposure. [/message_box]

Why? The calcium cation is primarily responsible for water ‘hardness’ (i.e. the higher the calcium concentration, the harder the water).  Many clinical studies have demonstrated that application of hard water directly to sensitive skin can cause an immediate flushing response, stinging, burning and uncomfortable dryness after application when compared to using soft water with a very low calcium ion content.  Some homes use large water softener systems to soften shower water and make water taste better; however, most homes, apartments, and condominiums do not contain water softening systems or filtration systems.

Unfiltered, Non-Purified Water and its Effect on Sensitive Skin

While most Dermatologists focus on neutralizing ‘hard’ water for their patients, contact dermatitis specialists point out that there are many other normally occurring irritants in regular tap water and ‘softened’ water that rosacea sufferers must filter out to ensure that shower water does not trigger rosacea flares or increase the potential for long-standing irritant dermatitis.

To neutralize these irritants, homes need to install specialized filtration systems onto the shower head, faucet or whole house systems — and based on extensive surveys, most homes do not employ any filtration system — leaving their skin susceptible to these harsh chemicals.

Below is a list of common chemical irritants found in common tap water:

  • Chlorine – this chemical has been shown to physically bond to skin cells and damage them within seconds of contact.  That is why so many rosacea sufferers flush after entering a swimming pool.
  • Arsnec-Journal Environmental Health Perspectives found arsenic is prevalent in American tap water and can contribute to skin cancer along with other health issues.
  • Hydrogen Sulfide
  • Iron Oxides
  • Heavy Metal Trace Contaminants
  • Mineral Salts
  • Barium
  • Mercury
  • Bacteria – carried in water and builds up in pipeline
  • Mold – carried in water and builds up in pipeline
  • Regular Tap Water is not Ph-Balanced (it is just as important to balance the Ph levels in your water as it is to use Ph-balanced facial cleansers)

*Fyi, not only superficially are you exposed to irritants but internally as well. Toxins can seep through your skin and into your cells, triggering allergens and a whole host of other potential health issues .

Oxynator RainStorm Shower Filter with Oxygenics Shower Head

Top Shower Filter-Heads for Rosacea Sufferers

There are many shower heads with specialized filters out there on the market that neutralize many of the common tap water chemical irritants and soften the shower water.  The price range on a good filter system is $60 to $199.  This might seem pricey at first but they usually last at least six months and your face and skin in general will thank you.  After considerable research into various companies and filtration shower heads, Oxygenics stands out as one of the best and is often mentioned by Dermatologists specializing in sensitive skin syndromes and contact dermatitis.  Below are some highlights of their shower heads and filtration systems that should be of interest:

“Removes 98.9% chlorine & vapors, hydrogen sulfide, iron oxides (rust water), odors and traces of heavy metals

  • Reduces scale build-up on tiles and glass
  • pH balances as well as softens the water
  • Patented high-performance filtration media: copper-zinc and Chlorgon™ (mineral salts)
  • Copper-zinc filtration media inhibits the growth of bacteria, fungus, and mold The shower filters contain a proprietary blend of filtration media comprised of copper, zinc and calcium (Chlorgon™) that effectively removes chlorine from your water supply through a chemical filtration process called “Redox” or oxidation-reduction. In addition to chlorine, these shower filters reduce the amount of iron oxides, hydrogen sulfide, and traces of heavy metals that may be in your water. The filtration media is also bacterostatic, inhibiting the growth of E. coli, mold, and other bacteria. It is the most efficient, state-of-the-art technology for shower and bath filtration. All shower filters have been NSF® tested for chlorine removal, standard #177.
  • Easy Installation with no tools necessary
  • Housing unscrews in half for easy cartridge replacement
  • Shower filter cartridge, lasts 4-6 months (depending on water quality and usage) or approximately 7,000 gallons
  • 5-Year Housing Warranty on All-Metal Housing”

It is important to note that each shower head system has a lever to easily adjust the water pressure from very high for an invigorating shower —  to a very light mist for gentle facial cleansing.

Top Three Oxygenics Skincare Showerheads

  1.  Oxynator Deluxe Shower Filter with Oxygenics SkinCare Showerhead — $119.95
  2. Oxynator Rainstorm Shower Filter with Oxygenics Shower Head — $139.95
  3. Oxy-Blast Duo 12 Spray Shower Filter with Oxygenics Showerhead — $104.95Additional Shower Water Filters Reviews & Information

Other water purification considerations:

Initially while less expensive and easier to install, you may want to consider investing in a whole house system. Over time filter replacements add up especially if you have multiple filters throughout your home. Example refrigerator, sink, shower +++
At source filtration is a perfect solution especially for renters, apartment dwellers who may not have ability or access to whole house filtration

  1. Whole house purification system that filters water at source connection to your home. Typically, these systems filter out chlorine, chemicals, particulates, and microorganisms.
  2. Reverse osmosis systems: filters all natural and synthetic toxins, microbes, debris, and minerals.

If this topic interests you, you may find the below articles

Rosacea is more than skin deep, so not only will your skin improve…. removing irritants  and contaminants from your water could help your health in general.


Comment Section:

Have You Added a Water Softener and Shower Filter Head To Reduce Post-Shower Flares?

If you’ve tried showering with and without these systems please send us your feedback in the comment box.  Do you have any other recommendations for your fellow rosacea sufferers?