Hard Water and Eczema: Is it Helpful?

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Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that causes red patches of itchy and dry skin to appear on the body.  While it typically affects the back, face, hands, and creases of elbows and knees, it can develop in other places as well. From cigarette smoke to certain foods, there are many factors that can trigger eczema — including hard water. Read on to discover the connection between hard water and eczema. 

Please keep in mind that although what we discuss in this post can relieve eczema, we are in no way medical professionals. If you’re experiencing severe eczema symptoms like an infection, it is best to seek medical advice immediately.

Understanding Eczema 

Eczema is a chronic condition that typically develops in childhood. That being said, it can develop in adults as well. Due to a damaged skin barrier that has trouble retaining moisture, those with eczema suffer from chronically dry and itchy skin. These patches of red rashes may be flaky or scaly and may even burn or sting. If subjected to intense scratching, the skin can crack or bleed, allowing bacteria and germs to easily enter. This can pave the way for infection. A fairly common skin condition, eczema affects around 10-20% of the population

Hard Water and Eczema 

We know that hot water isn’t great for eczema-prone skin because of its dehydrating effects, but what about hard water?

According to researchers from the University of Sheffield and King’s College London, hard water contributes to further damaging the skin barrier. As those with eczema already suffer from a compromised skin barrier, this only further increases the skin’s sensitivity to potential irritants and allergens. 

This increase in sensitivity is associated with a genetic predisposition to a skin barrier defect brought about by mutations in the gene encoding filaggrin. This raises the risk of the skin reacting badly to products it comes into contact with on a daily basis —  especially those that contain chemicals or toxic ingredients.  Many of these things are everyday household products such as soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, and other beauty products. 

What exactly is Hard Water? 

Hard water is high in calcium, magnesium, bromide, and chloride. Bathing in hard water can increase the skin disposition of an irritating particle found in soap (sodium lauryl sulfate) which can precipitate onto the skin and cause irritation to eczema-prone skin. 

While skin pH is normally acidic, hard water can raise the skin surface pH even higher because of its high alkalinity. In turn, this shift towards alkaline pH disrupts the skin’s natural function as a physical, protective barrier and leaves it more vulnerable to potentially pathogenic bacteria which can cause infection.

Hard Water Eczema Treatment

To combat the damaging effects of hard water on eczema, we recommend the following natural and alternative baths for eczema-sufferers: 

Oatmeal Bath–an excellent choice for a soothing bath treatment.  Rich in beta-glucans, colloidal oatmeal helps fight skin sensitivity and reduces inflammation. It also helps create a protective barrier against irritants while providing regenerative benefits to dry skin. Simply draw up a bath and add 2-3 cups of this Conqueror Oatmeal Bath for Eczema. Be sure to use lukewarm water as opposed to hot.  

Coconut Oil Bath–a great way to restore skin’s moisture that would normally be stripped away with hot baths and soaps. We recommend using coconut oil that is cold-pressed and unrefined or pressed. Before purchasing, be sure to read the label to see if there are any added preservatives or artificial ingredients. Pour 1/4 of coconut oil in a lukewarm bath and soak for a minimum of 15 minutes. 

Post-Bathing Treatment 

Restore hydration to your skin with this Conqueror Soothing Eczema Balm. A 15-in-1 formula, all ingredients were handpicked for their known soothing abilities. Enjoy long-lasting hydration and relief with this natural moisturizer. 

Another great moisturizer for even the driest of skin is our Organic Manuka Skin Soothing Cream. With zero added preservatives or fragrances, it does the job without any burning or stinging. Enjoy the moisturizing effects of its all-natural ingredients, including Manuka honey! 

References: 

https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/news/nr/eczema-treatments-research-hardwater-skin-conditions-1.731633

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-09-academic-reveals-true-extent-link.html

https://nationaleczema.org/alternative-treatments-dr-shi/

Laura is a contributor and content developer for It’s An Itchy Little World. She is in no way a medical professional. Her comments, suggestions, and reflections are not intended to replace any medical advice. Always seek the help of a medical professional before undertaking any diet or lifestyle changes. Please see It’s An Itchy Little World’s disclaimer for information about affiliate links and more.

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