The pH of skin is 4.7 ... quite acidic.
Here is a list of interesting products and pH levels:
- Optimal pH level of healthy skin surface: 4.7
- Vinegar: 2.5
- Dead sea salts: 5.8 pH
- Sea salts: generally around neutral once dissolved (7.0 pH)
- Epsom salts: 5.5-6.5 (considered a neutral salt)
- Baking soda: 8.2
- Most soaps: 7.0
The acid mantle on our skin ideally is at a pH of 4.7. And, for a short article explaining pH ...
I have a number of health issues. One of those is Idiopathic Chronic Pancreatitis. The defining symptom of this disease is extreme pain, typically treated with narcotics and opioids.
Fortunately, my background involves a significant amount of research. I have become a "master" at research. I ended up finding a pain treatment program that has kept me completely pain free for well over 4 years. What is amazing about this is this self-treatment costs me about 1 cent a day. Compare that with up to $1400 a day some pancreatitis sufferers are forced to fork over monthly for expensive prescriptions.
I also take a few natural supplements. You see, I discovered something I did not expect in my lab tests. For the past five or six years, I have had blood work (lab tests) at least once each year. I always ask for a copy of these so that I can do research on those as well. I plotted the results over a five year time span and what I discovered was completely unexpected. Markers that are extremely low. One in particular brought a comment from my doctor that in his entire 35+ year career, he had not seen this marker at such a low level in a "live" patient.
The two most important are 25-hydroxy (vitamin D3) and B-12. Both were extremely low. The other marker that caught my attention was in the Urinalysis section ... my urine pH level was at 5.4. That is also extremely low and indicates my body is quite acidic. The ideal ph level for urine (or saliva) is 7.4 – or slightly alkaline.
I started a supplement with each at the upper limit of the recommended daily allowance. I also started taking supplements to increase my pH level. Over the five years, I had absolutely no impact on changing my urine pH level. Throughout the five years, it remained at 5.4.
Before going any further with a pH discussion, I need to point out that the pH of urine (or saliva) is different than the pH level of your blood. It is extremely costly to get your blood pH level tested and measured, so doctors settle on a number of key markers in a urine test (urinalysis). The blood pH range is 7.35 to 7.45, which tends to be a reflection over a longer period of time. Measuring pH by urinalysis is more dynamic and can change within seconds of ingesting food or drink. For that reason, I have personally never been a fan of saliva pH tests, anything that has been in your mouth recently (including mouth washes, bacteria, etc) would have an immediate impact on a pH test and not reflect the reality of your body's internal pH. It is also a concern with urine pH levels, that is a reflection of what your body is processing through your kidneys.
My pH level did change in July 2016. It dropped even further to 5.0. Now that is quite concerning. The range recommended by the lab company is between 5.0 and 8.0.
When I glanced at that pH number, I was quite disappointed. After over five years of my self treatment program – focused on getting my pH up – to have dip to the lowest measurable point is not the result I expected. I went into over-drive. I started more closely monitoring dosage levels, times and frequency, and total daily intake. All within a 30 day window, I managed to do this properly with my next lab results (Aug 19 2016) showing pH at exactly 6.0. Not only reversed the negative trend from one earlier, but went much higher than I have measured in 5+ years.
Here's where it gets interesting.
I have issues with Seborrheic Dermatitis (SD or, commonly, Seborrhea). Over the past few months it seems that my seborrhea is starting to get out of control. Redness, indicating inflammation and irritation, is spread throughout my face. It's on my forehead, eyebrows, nose, sides of the nose to mid-cheek, top lip, and chin. It's bright red ... so much so that a family member mentioned I had a sun burn. Not a sun burn I replied, it's seborrhea.
The other annoying symptom is heavy flaking. There's also scaling, but no one sees that unless they look closely. The flaking is bad enough. Seborrhea has been called "dandruff of the face" ... it's red, it's itchy, and it leaves dandruff residue every time we scratch to relieve the itch.
The flaking is caused by a fungus called malasseiza. It gets out of control and feeds on the "sebum" (a secretion through our sebaceous glands). The sebum is the body's way to replenish our skin ... when the fungus feeds on the sebum, the body makes more and more skin. That's the flaking, the sheer quantity and piling up process is the scaling. Malasseiza is a lipophilic fungus, meaning that it feeds on oils and fats to grow and increase. Any product considered a lipid should be avoided.
Some interesting points about this:
1. Everyone has the malasseiza fungus. Healthy or sick. IT IS NOT A HYGIENE ISSUE.
2. The amount of malassezia fungus is the same whether you are healthy or not. With seborrhea (cause unknown), no one knows why the fungus decides to feed on the sebum.
Understanding this process leads to the first method of dealing with this disease. The medical community will prescribe corticostereoids as a first line of defence to control the malasseiza fungus. The medical community will also recommend using an anti-dandruf shampoo, leaving it on at least two minutes before rinsing off to have effect. For those afflicted with facial seborrhea, the recommendation is to extend the use of that shampoo to the face as well.
There are also a number of natural supplements and topicals that can help.
The first and most obvious is to help the skin out ... apply acidic topical treatments to control the fungus. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) has a pH level of between 2.8 and 3.0. Cleanse your face with ACV and let it dry on your skin (followed by a thorough rinse) and you essentially help the body destroy the malasseiza fungus. No fungus, no flaking. While many on forums mention specific brands or types of ACV, quite frankly any acidic wash would work (unsweetened lemon juice – and I suspect so would a diet coke or diet pepsi).
There are also a number of topical creams that are even more convenient. Apply and leave on. Those are creams that contain any of the "azole" family ingredients. The two I prefer are in Nizoral shampoo (ketoconazole 2%) and an anti-fungal cream containing miconazole nitrate 2%. Both of these will control the fungus, flaking and help tame the redness and irritation. All will help with itching.
I have found a number of triggers that launch a seborrhea flare up. The first is water. Normal everyday tap water. We drink it, we bathe and shower in it, and it can cause significant harm. In the area where we live, we have moderately hard water – and our community uses chlorine extensively to control bacteria in municipal water. The amount of chlorine varies depending on the season. For most of the year, the chlorine level is kept to a reasonable 0.3 ppm. In the summer, our community adds more chlorine to fight off bacteria that flourishes in warmer weather. I've measured our household levels of chlorine at nearly 3 ppm. The reason I started to suspect chlorine in the water was that I started to notice that the redness and irritation was most prominent after a bath. I even ran a test and purchased a $30 showerhead filter to eliminate the chlorine while showering. And it worked.
That was a eureka moment for me. Discovering that bathing in chlorinated water triggers inflammation and irritation that is a cornerstone of seborrhea.
It was also a eureka moment in another way ... we're drinking this shit water. We're consuming chlorine. At 0.5 ppm, we barely notice it. Above that, you start to smell your water ... it has a slight "bleach" like smell. The health issues caused by chlorine are legend. Could it be the cause of the other symptoms? Scaling? Flaking?
The answer is I don't know. I do know that bathing/showering in chlorinated water was a trigger for me and I've heard it is a trigger for others as well. I also know that if I remove the chlorine from bathing/showers, but still drink chlorinated water, the effect is not quite as good as eliminating chlorine from the whole house. Which is exactly what I did. I purchased, and installed, a whole house water filtration system that removes chlorine and softens the water slightly. And it worked on the inflammation and irritation.
If you are following my story, odds are that you have seborrhea too, or you are a family/friend supporting someone with seborrhea. We all have the frustration of finding a treatment that works but ends up having a limited span of effectiveness. Such was the case for the water. It does work, it does control the inflammation and irritation – but there is also something else that can cause the redness. At this point, I don't know what that is – but I do have a sense of the process.
On August 24 2016, I had one of those "epiphanies" like I did when I discovered my self treatment that has kept me pain free for well over 4 years. It's one of those moments where you slap your forehead and that little voice says "why didn't I think of that" ...
I research medical and scientific research projects and papers. The medical and scientific community do not know what causes seborrheic dermatitis. Neither do I.
They do know that there is no cure and I agree with that. We can get rid of the symptoms for some time, even years. But it always comes back.
So, here's a breakthrough, here's my eureka moment – and a new treatment that is working wonderfully.
At the top of this article, I mentioned that I had noticed a trend in my lab tests and in the lab tests of manyh others with digestive diseases. They were all pretty much the same in what was missing.
Again, D3 and B12.
D3 – 25-hydroxy – keeps coming up in every single negative aspect of my health.
In the SD forums that I participate in, several users mentioned one "natural" way of improving their seborrhea ... spending time in the sun. The sun helped control the redness and flaking. The sun – to our body, the source of 25-hydroxy. The supplement you can take if you don't get enough sun: Vitamin D3.
So, there. I can't get enough sun, so I decided to up the quantity of vitamin D3 I take daily. I increased mine from 1000 IU to 6000 IU – result: overnight, my flaking and scaling is nearly 100% gone. The redness doesn't even show up when I shave.
And, on a related note ...
Some seborrhea sufferers have posted messages suggesting relief from Dead Sea Salts. If you note above, the pH level of Dead Sea Salts is 5.8. That will help control the fungus quite well and will also help with the inflammation and irritation, reducing the redness. Notice that is ONLY Dead Sea Salts. Any other Sea Salts have a pH of 7.0 and will not have the same effect. I personally prefer to use Epsom Salts to do the same. I add about one-half cup to my bath water and soak in it for at least 20 minutes – washing my scalp and face in it throughout that entire time. It's costs considerably less than Dead Sea Salt and has an even lower pH value (meaning it is also more effective). And another quick note for anyone with cardiac issues. These are called "salts", but have minimal (if any) impact on your blood pressure. Dead Sea Salts would be better called Dead Sea Minerals. And Epsom Salts are actually magnesium sulfate.
And, another "clarification":
On a facebook page, someone claiming to have created their own treatment for seborrheic dermatitis has posted "taking Omega 3 and 6 supplements are essential" ... please do not take any additional Omega 6. We already get far too much Omega 6 and it actually may be the source of many of our illnesses. The same person posts "Jojoba oil and olive squalene is the closet to the skin's natural oil." ... while I have no way of knowing if that is correct or not, do not apply either to your skin or scalp if you have SD. Both are lipids and feed the malasseiza fungus.