It has been a lot cooler recently (with some very cool nights reaching into the 40’s and 50’s), and I have already noticed a decrease in the humidity. The lower humidity has made my skin noticeably drier after a shower.
Today, after I took a shower, I had a lot of dry looking skin on my nose, back, arms, and my skin felt very tight and dry. It was so dry and uncomfortable feeling, that I decided to apply some extra virgin olive oil to help moisturize my skin (which I generally only do during the winter months). That made it feel a lot better, but it reminded me of another down side of the coming winter season: Dryer skin, and less humidity.
It is bad enough breaking out in Cholinergic Urticaria heat rash when you are in a humid atmosphere! But when you add a totally dry atmosphere with dry skin in the mix, it somehow seems to make it worse-at least in my own experience.
But another reason that my skin gets dry is not only the dry season, but the incredibly hard water I have in my apartment. This is the hardest water I have ever experienced in my life! Even my wife gets dry skin from it, and she uses lotion almost daily!
It is so bad, that the shampoo bottles in my apartment literally turn scaly whitish with a film on them. As a matter of fact, now that I am thinking of it, my cholinergic urticaria came back after moving into this apartment! I wonder if the water has anything to do with it?? I am not suggesting dry skin or hard water is the cause of cholinergic urticaria (after all, my wife doesn’t have it). But I do know from personal experience that dry skin does make my cholinergic urticaria much worse. But this brings up an interesting question:
Could A Water Softener Help Cholinergic Urticaria?
What is a water softener? Well, first let me explain what “hard water” means. Hard water is simply water with a very high mineral content. The minerals can vary, but often it is minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and other chemicals. I must have a lot of calcium in my water, because it leaves a thick white film on everything.
Hard water is known for drying out the skin, and causing a build-up of “soap scum” and other things in the bathtub. Also, soap does not lather very well at all (and I can vouch for that as well).
How a Water Softener Works:
A water softener is a small machine that looks similar to a water heater (although it is usually much smaller). You have to add salt to it, and it uses an ion exchange to combine hard water minerals and molecules to soften water chemicals. The result is much softer water that lathers well with soap, leaves a slick and smooth feeling on the skin, and reduces soap scum and mineral build-up on your shower tub.
My wife’s grandparents used to have a water softener because they had an outdoor well for their water souce. She said when she would wash her hands at their house, it would feel so much different than at our apartment. She said they felt so much cleaner and the soap lathered up so much more.
If I still have cholinergic urticaria after I finally get a house (hopefully within this next year or so), then I plan on trying to get a water softener for the bathroom water as soon as possible. As a matter of fact, I may get one anyways just for the smoother skin. You have to add it to the water line in your house, and that means altering stuff (which is prohibited in an apartment). So I definitely have to wait until I get a house. But I just wonder if this would make cholinergic urticaria less intense by leaving our skin more moisturized and soft?
On top of the water softener, I will probably also get some kind of filtration as well. I want the water to be as clean and chemical free as possible to see if it helps the hives at all. I’ve speculated in the past that hard water can cause hives.
The only “downside” to water softeners is that they add more salt to your drinking water. This is not good since excess sodium can be linked to heart disease. But if/when I get a water softener, I will find a way to only hook it to the water going to my shower, and will leave the “hard water” for the kitchen.
Gluten Free/Milk Free Diet Update:
The diet is going very well! I have now been on it for a little over 2 weeks straight (with no gluten or milk whatsoever). I am not even craving “bad” foods because I have learned to find a lot of “filler” foods that make me feel full (like banana nut bread). I have basically been eating banana nut bread (gluten and milk free), and lots of veggies and lean meat.
The hives have not yet made a big change, but at least they aren’t getting worse. I have been exercising much more as well, and I have to take breaks once I start getting all itchy. But I know that if this diet is the cause, it will take as long as months anyways to see the 100% results. But I am continuing well on the diet, and plan to stay on it for the next few months to see if there are any results.
UPDATE: 1/21/13 This is an old archived post, and I have made more recent posts regarding my new diet and how I was able to finally get my hives under control. Read more about it on my cholinergic urticaria diet page. What I essentially did was keep a journal and do several allergy elimination diets.