Shower water – do we really have to be worried?

You might have read the horror stories about the dangers of tap water in last weeks press. So what about the skin – is there really a health risk when it comes to our skin?

Tap water coming from shower heads have in deed been shown in studies to harbor various microbes such as bacteria and fungi. So in theory it’s possible to acquire skin infections such as folliculitis from germs living in our shower heads. However, in daily life, it’s very uncommon (but not impossible, as the studies show) to get a skin infection from germs living in your shower head. Overall I don’t think there is need to worry overly about our shower water with regards to skin health.

In fact, it’s much more common to develop skin issues after using hot tubs or whirlpools, as this may cause a so called ‘hot tub folliculitis’ (caused by pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria, which thrive in hot tubs).

However, an exception with regards to simple shower water might be post-operative or post-procedure skin, where the skin integrity and its barrier function might be impaired, so germs have an easier ‘way in’. For example, after an ablative CO2 laser treatment of the face, I might recommend not using tap or shower water for a few days, but consider purchasing sterile water to wash with for the first few days after the procedure, in order avoid secondary infection – for peace of mind.

So in summary, don’t worry too much (stress is also harmful for our skin…), unless you have a skin issue that just keeps coming back or you are planing to have any invasive skin treatment.