Having moved to London from Ireland a couple of years ago, I honestly think my biggest culture shock wasn’t the rushing, or the traffic, or the accent. That’s all become normal to me ― but I still can’t get over the water.
Calcified kettles. Showers that force sad trickles of water through their clogged heads with all the force of a half-hearted cough. The relentless, rust-hued hard water stains; and, more than anything, that very *specific* tap water taste.
Turns out, I’m not just being fussy. Hard water can have a real impact on your cleaning, your cooking, and yes, even your health ― at least, that’s according to Andy Ellis, bathroom expert at SteamShowerStore, who said that:
“At first it can seem harmless, but prolonged exposure to hard water can result in digestive issues and itchy scalps which can make the problem uncomfortable to live with.”
So, we thought we’d share the signs that hard water is interfering with your health:
1) Itchy skin and psoriasis
The minerals in hard water can strip your skin of its natural oils, Eliis says. This can dry your skin out and lead to itching (oof).
“The minerals in hard water can also change the pH balance of your skin, weakening it as a barrier against harmful bacteria and infections. People with eczema may be especially vulnerable,” Healthline shared.
2) Dry, itchy hair and a flaky scalp
Just as the minerals strip oils from your skin, so too can they extract the sebum from your scalp. This can lead to dry, frazzled hair and, “It can also cause an itchy scalp as hard water can leave residue,” Ellis says.
In fact, multiple studies suggest the thinking and breakage from hard water damage can even lead to hair loss.
3) Mould and subsequent health issues
Hard water can really help soap scum to cling (which then attracts further hard water buildup ― a vicious cycle). This can cause mould, which can be tough on peoples’ lungs and sinuses; “If you notice any build-up of soap scum, make sure to use white vinegar and lemons to clean it off before it turns to mould,” Ellis recommends.
4) Kidney stones
Some studies suggest that harder water is tougher for your kidneys than softer water, though this isn’t conclusive.
It’s not all bad
Though the effects on your hair and skin can be irritating, drinking hard water is still much, much better for your than choosing another hydration option (like soft drinks or coffee).
And some studies suggest that hard water can help to combat constipation (huh!). Still, if you’re worried about a flaky scalp, dried-out skin, or even potential kidney stones, you might want to consider a water softener.