Water is necessary for life, be it for drinking or using it for various other purposes. Washing and cleaning functions also make for an important usage for water. Especially when it comes to hair, the quality of water plays in important role in keeping hair nourishment and health intact. However, the quality of water supplied for cleaning purposes varies in different regions in India. Directly or indirectly, it can cause hair fall and lead to severe hair loss as well.
Can Water Cause Hair Loss?
No, water cannot cause hair loss directly. A few studies have been conducted and published in scientific journals such as the International Journal Of Trichology and the Journal Of Pakistan Medical Association with regard to how water quality (hard water or distilled water) can impact scalp hair and its health. The study conducted in 2013 and published in the International Journal Of Trichology, indicates that hard water does not affect the tensile strength and elasticity of the hair strands significantly. This study exposed the hair strands to hard water every alternate day for 30 days.
Coming to the study published in 2016 by scientists in the Journal Of Pakistan Medical Association, a difference in the tensile strength of the hair was observed. This study was conducted over a period of three months and implies that bad water quality (presence of salts as seen in hard water) may affect hair strength when the exposure is over longer periods of time. However, both the studies do not outline any hair loss fluctuations. But, a low tensile strength can cause hair breakage easily and lead to hair thinning. Hence, with respect to the scientific evidence available currently, it is believed that hair fall due to water is possible as a direct effect but it may have an indirect impact on it.
Types Of Water That Are Potentially Harmful For Your Hair
While no proof exists when it comes to hair loss due to water quality directly, certain components of different types of water can cause damage to the hair and scalp. This may indicate that water and hair fall are related. Let us look how different types of water can affect the hair health, and cause hair damage.
(A) Hard water and hair fall
Hard water by definition is water that is rich in mineral content, which means that it has high levels of magnesium, calcium, copper, and silica. Presence of the salts of these in the water that you use to wash your hair regularly can affect the hair health. They can weaken the hair follicles and make your hair dry, frizzy, and brittle. This leads to hair breakage and results in hard water induced hair loss eventually.
Dandruff and/or eczema can also develop due to exposure to hard water containing silica, over long periods of time. These scalp conditions can , in turn, make the hard water cause hair loss as silica can restrict oxygen flow to the hair follicles. Hair loss due to hard water is reversible by stopping its usage. Additionally, topical medications (minoxidil and finasteride) and treatments such as PRP therapy (platelet rich plasma therapy) that are offered at skin and hair clinics can be utilized to speed up the hair growth process. These treatments are conducted under the supervision of a dermatologist or trichologist and have proven to be effective in treating hard water created hair loss.
(B) Chlorine water and hair loss
Chlorine is added to disinfect water and is not just present in swimming pools; it can also be present in the water supplied to your house. Hair fall due to chlorinated water can occur as chlorine is known to damage hair follicles and also, it can make the hair dry. Hair loss seen due to chlorine can be reversed and easily prevented.
Also Read: How To Control Hair Fall In Men And Women?
(C) Ground water
Also referred as bore water in India, ground water is essentially the rain water that has seeped through the Earth’s surface and accumulated in the deeper layers of the ground. This water is pumped up to the surface and used by many people for their day to day washing and cleaning purposes. Iron and magnesium from the soil enter this water and contaminate it. When used for rinsing the hair, bore water can cause hair loss by making the hair dry and brittle, and also leading to hair thinning.
As in the case of hard water induced hair fall, ground water or bore water created hair loss can also be treated and reversed using minoxidil, finasteride, and PRP treatment.
(D) Salt water and hair loss
Salts present in salt water (such as from the sea or ocean) absorb moisture from the hair and make them very dry and brittle. This alters the hair texture greatly and causes increased breakage and hair thinning. On repeated exposure to salt water, even permanent hair loss can occur in the form of bald patches. Early consultation with an experienced dermatologist will ensure that an apt course of treatment is started before this hair loss due to salt water becomes permanent and untreatable.
(E) Rain water
Though rain water is a part of the natural condensation process and it should be pure, the high amount of pollutants present in the atmosphere contaminate it and make it harmful for the hair (and even the skin). Dryness, itchiness, hair breakage, and dandruff often develop as a result of exposure to rain water. Hair loss because of rain water becomes prominent in the case of acid rain which causes increased damage to the hair and skin.
It is very important that you protect your hair and skin from rain water in the current atmospheric conditions. If you suspect any hair loss developing due to rain water, seek advice from a skin/hair specialist immediately.
(F) Soft water
This type of water is filtered and purified so that it contains the least concentrations of damaging salts and contaminants. It is one of the best types of water to wash your hair as it causes no damage to the hair follicles, scalp skin or the hair strands. It will help you to maintain the integrity, elasticity, and tensile strength of your hair.
Also Read: What Causes Hair Shedding & How To Treat It?
How To Prevent Hair Loss Due To Change In Water?
- Install a water softener instrument over the shower head or tap system. This is a great strategy to reduce hair fall due to hard water as it will treat and distil the water you will use to wash your hair.
- To prevent hair fall due to chlorinated water, always wear a head cap to protect your hair when swimming in pools. Also, rinse your hair after swimming if you suspect that pool water has entered the head cap.
- To prevent hair loss due to hard water, use a clarifying shampoo once in every couple of days. This will help in removing any build up from the scalp that may be causing a blockage on the hair follicles. Speak to a dermatologist for recommendations for an efficient clarifying shampoo and its appropriate usage.
- Use a good hair conditioner to soften the hair strands post rinsing them with water that contains harmful salts. Make sure to apply the conditioner on the ends of the hair only and not on the scalp. This will help to avoid unwarranted side effects like dandruff and scalp itchiness.
- Another easy prevention tip for hair loss due to hard water is to use distilled water to wash your hair. Bottled water or filter water are great substitutes that you can use.
- Use umbrellas, caps, raincoats, etc. to keep the skin and hair shielded from the polluted rain water.
When you read about how contaminants in water can damage your hair, it can seem scary. However, it is important to identify the type of water you are using to rinse your hair and stop using it if it is not of good quality. Also, understand that hard water does not cause permanent hair loss. The increased hair fall can be treated easily using the right prevention techniques and hard water hair loss treatments such as minoxidil and PRP therapy. A dermatologist can guide you appropriately in this regard!