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Hard Water: Is It Hard On Your Skin?

Hard water is tap water that’s high in minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Hard water isn’t harmful, except the minerals prevent your soap from sudsing. Some people think that hard water is more likely to cause a rash than soft water.

Take a recent patient of mine: He moved his family to San Diego from the East Coast (good move this winter, no?) After they moved here, they noticed their skin became dry and itchy. He blamed San Diego’s notoriously hard water and installed a water softener in the main water line. It was costly, but did it improve their skin?

A recent study from the UK looked at this question: Does hard water worsen eczema? The answer was no, it doesn’t. Water hardness did not seem to have any impact on eczema, the most common skin rash.

What’s more important than the hardness of the water is the type of soap you use. True soap tends to strip the skin of its natural oils, leaving it exposed and irritated. Non-soap cleansers, of which Dove is the prototype, leave more oils on your skin, keeping it hydrated and protected.

My patient and his family didn’t get any better after installing a water softener (although he said they could drink our tap water without gagging now.) I advised him to change to a moisturizing soap and to apply moisturizer daily.

San Diego is drier than most of the country, and the low humidity can be a shock to skin accustomed to humid air. Many people who move here find they have to moisturize more often than they did back home.  When they complain, I suggest they could alternatively move back to the East Coast this winter — no takers so far.

*This blog post was originally published at The Dermatology Blog*

Olive Oil And Your Skin

Trying to keep up with what’s hot in skincare is like trying to keep up with the Kardashians. It’s impossible (not that I’ve tried with the Kardashians, that is.)

Then how are you to know what are the latest and greatest ingredients? Well, you could read The Derm Blog (when I get around to posting on it), or you could just listen to your grandmother.

Some of the newest discoveries in skin care aren’t new at all: Olive oil may be seem hot now, but countless Mediterranean grandmothers, including mine, have sworn by its skin-care benefits for centuries (millenia?) Were they right?

Olive oil contains caffeic acid, oleic acid, and oleuropein — all of which are potent antioxidants. Unlike berries or teas, these antioxidants are already in oil, allowing them to be directly applied to the skin. Topically applied olive oil helps dry skin, rosacea, psoriasis, seborrhea, burns, atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, diaper dermatitis, hand dermatitis, and eczema. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Dermatology Blog*

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