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Chlorine or Hard Water Exacerbating Scalp P?
from Ken S.

Hi Ed, I have a question for you. I’ve never had dandruff or any other skin condition until I moved from a very dry climate (New Mexico) to a relatively wet one (Chicago). Not long after I moved my scalp began to itch, I could feel little bumps on my head, and I developed dandruff. I went to a dermatologist and was prescribed first selenium sulfide (did not get rid of the itching) and later coal tar. This made it less itchy but I had to use the stuff daily. So, after about a year I saw a different doctor and she told me to use the coal tar, the sulfide (Head & Shoulders Blue) and zinc pyrithione (Head and Shoulders White). She told me to use each one once a week.

Well, I have to use them every day. Day 1 the tar, day 2 the zinc, etc.. Repeating this over and over. My scalp doesn't flake any more but it still itches somewhat.

Anyway, I went away for a week and used the tar and the Head and Shoulders White on alternate days and noticed that I had no itching at all.  So, here's my question:  Could I be sensitive to the water in Chicago, Illinois (maybe the chlorine) and/or to the old plumbing? I was in a hotel for a couple of days and in a newer house the rest of the week. Ever hear if this? Thanks, -Ken S.


Ed’s Response:  I’m totally without authority on the subject, Ken, but speaking from my own experience, I do believe the water you bathe or shower in has an effect on itching and skin moisture. 

The horse farm I live on converted to “city water” a few years before I came along and the owners, who also have an in-ground swimming pool, told me the city water is almost as chlorinated as pool water calls for.  They showed me this by using the chlorine test chemicals on tap water.  Having owned a hot tub for several years, I was familiar with this test and was shocked to see the vial of tap water turn dark yellow (indicating a lot of chlorine).

Subsequently I purchased a Nikken Shower System (product #2117).  This is a relatively expensive proposition, and you have to replace the filter every three months or so, but it has reduced my itching (especially scalp) dramatically.  In fact, I have so much more confidence in this filtered water that I’ll often draw it by the pitcher for drinking.

If anyone else believes chlorine or crystalline water from old pipes adversely effects their P or worsens the itch, we’d love to hear from you.  -Ed

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