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National Eczema Week : What is Eczema and What Has Water Got To Do With It?

Is your skin itchy, dry, and sore? Are you prone to rashes, blisters, and skin infections?


You may have eczema, also known as atopic eczema or atopic dermatitis. According to a study by Nestlé Research Centre (2015) on atopic dermatitis around the globe, up to 20 per cent of children and three per cent of adults are affected by the irritating skin condition. But despite widespread awareness of the condition, not a lot seems to be known about it.


What causes eczema? It could be exposure to dry air, extreme heat or cold. It could be the type (or amount) of toiletries that you use and the chemicals found within them. It could be natural liquids or minerals. It could be water. Some say it could even be emotional stress. Past scientific studies claim clear results whilst ongoing ones refute them.


One of the most contested topics regarding eczema is its relation to hard water.


In a 202 study by King’s College London, researchers found that there was a positive association between children who have eczema and living in a hard water area. However, previous studies by Edinburgh University (2011) and University of Nottingham (2011) have found that water softeners have no observable impact on the symptoms of atopic eczema.


The University of Sheffield (2017), however, disagrees, saying a ‘team of researchers examined whether removing the calcium and magnesium ions using an ion-exchange water softener could mitigate the effects of hard water on the skin. They found that using a water softener reduces the harmful effects of surfactants, potentially decreasing the risk of developing eczema.’


The study was, however, funded by a water softening company.

The Conclusion?

Whilst we would love to agree with them and tell you that our water softeners help to cure the symptoms of eczema, we can’t. The best we can offer is that, according to Healthline.com, ‘some research suggests that hard water may raise the risk of eczema or make symptoms worse.’

Whilst many studies would not explicitly recommend the purchase of a softener based on the evidence of their findings, we would argue that based on the various studies undertaken, that the inclusion of a water softener in one’s home prior to the birth of a child could be an important preventative step, if it is in fact hard water that contributes to the onset of eczema in the early years of a child.

Even if it is not hard water directly that is the cause of eczema, it is widely accepted that the ingredients in detergents can trigger eczema or irritate inflamed skin. And when your house operates on hard water, it is recommended that you use larger quantities of detergent (amongst other kitchen and bathroom liquids). This means that, even if hard water does not directly cause skin irritation, it can still be a by-product of a hard-water home.

Scientifically speaking, there is no definitive proof to suggest that a water softener will help your eczema – studies are still ongoing. However, dermatologists such as Dr. Dennis Gross point out that hard water can prevent soap from lathering, instead causing soap and minerals to clog pores, making skin dry and itchy. And that’s for those without eczema.

We can’t make any promises about eczema, but can only suggest that for the best skincare, a softener will help to remove unnecessary irritants when cleaning your skin. And when eczema is involved, we know you want as few things causing a flare up as possible. We may not be able to cure, but hopefully we can help you prevent and manage your eczema.