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Soft Water and Eczema

Dry skin, itchiness, red blotches – the effects of eczema can range from uncomfortable to unbearable for the one in five children and one in twelve adults who suffer from the condition in the UK. While there are many causes of this and other dry skin conditions, the water we use to wash ourselves and our clothes is often overlooked. If your skin condition worsens after showering, or if you’ve seen an increase in dry, itchy patches since moving house, it may be due to the hardness of your water.

Effects of hard water

Can hard water cause eczema?

Yes, it can. Hard water residue can irritate the skin to the point of causing eczema. And for those who already suffer from eczema, hard water has been shown to worsen the condition. In a nutshell, hard water and eczema often go hand in hand. 

Your skin loses moisture

The minerals in hard water, and the resulting soap scum they cause, can absorb the natural oils and moisture in your skin, aggravating eczema by drying it out.

Your skin forms cracks

Without the natural barrier that oils create, your skin is more vulnerable to germs, allergens and bacteria, which can enter in the cracks caused by dryness.

You use more soap

The fatty acids in soap products react with the minerals in hard water to form insoluble soap scum. If you live in a hard water area, you’re likely to use more soap when showering to clean more effectively, and this excess product can further irritate dry and sensitive skin.

It affects your skin in unexpected ways

Even if you choose your cosmetics carefully, washing clothes in hard water areas also requires extra detergent. This can leave a residue on clothing, towels and bed linen that aggravates any underlying skin conditions.

Can soft water help your eczema?

Soft water is kinder to your skin. In fact, research findings from skincare expert Salcura show that parts of the UK with soft water require fewer deliveries of eczema products. But if you live in a hard water area, like the Midlands, east or south-east of England, installing a water softener could help to relieve eczema symptoms. Many anecdotal records from doctors and eczema sufferers show conditions improving – or even completely disappearing – when a patient moves into a soft water area or installs a water softener. Our independent survey with talkhealth (a team of chronic condition specialists), also returned reassuring results. It’s simple: with a water softener, eczema could become a distant memory.

The talkhealth Kinetico product trial

Kinetico commissioned talkhealth – the online social health community – to conduct a survey and product trial into the effects of softer water on skin. Over a three-month period, 23 participants had Kinetico water softeners installed in their homes, completing a questionnaire at the end of each month to monitor progress.

Deborah Mason, director at talkhealth, said: “In our experience, eczema is often managed with a combination of approaches. Individual responses to treatment vary enormously; what works for one person may not necessarily work for another. The use of water softeners is often cited as helping to relieve the symptoms of eczema and other dry skin conditions, and we were interested to see that those who took part in the product trial experienced some improvement.””

While eczema symptoms can be triggered by a variety of factors – like hot or dry weather conditions, allergens in the environment, hormonal changes and stress – the hardness of your water could be an underlying factor that irritates eczema-prone skin. If you live in a hard water area, try having a water softener installed in your home to see the positive effects of soft water on your skin. With soft water, eczema can get better.

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