Finding relief for eczema symptoms is no easy task because the problem is persistent. This is especially true during the winter months, when dry air and cold weather can be harsh on anyone’s skin. To care for these conditions, a combination of different treatment methods seems to have the best results. That’s why we can’t forget about the role that water plays in our overall skin care needs.
Understanding Eczema Symptoms
When people talk about eczema, they’re really referring to a group of conditions. Every case of eczema is different, but the symptoms typically relate to dry and itchy skin, redness, and inflammation. It can also lead to blisters and open sores. With these problems, any treatment options are worth pursuing.
Approximately 13 percent of children in the U.S. deal with atopic dermatitis. That’s probably why eczema is such a hot topic for health and wellness. We never want to see our kiddos in pain! For many children, eczema goes away as they grow up. But it’s not always certain. In fact, adults can develop eczema—even those who didn’t have it when they were young.
Does Hard Water Cause Eczema?
The most common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis. It’s a chronic condition, and though the specific causes aren’t known, a combination of a person’s genes and environmental factors are probably at play. So, rather than look at over-the-counter and prescription medicines alone, it can help to adjust some of our everyday behaviors.
Using a certain type of body wash or shampoo could be a trigger for atopic dermatitis or other eczema symptoms. And while soaps aren’t exactly a direct cause of these problems, it helps to take precautions when possible. Some people try to stay clear of perfumes and choose to use milder forms of laundry detergent to limit their flare-ups. Recent research also suggests that hard water could be another source of worsening symptoms.
A 2017 study from the University of Sheffield found that washing with hard water can actually damage the skin barrier. The dissolved calcium and magnesium ions in hard water create a high pH level. That alkaline pH can then interfere with our skin’s natural balance, damaging the skin barrier and leading to possible infection. Put another way, hard water minerals can cause dry skin and clog our pores. The problem is made worse when standard soaps can’t be fully washed away with hard water. Then we’re left with a sort of soap scum film on our skin.
Soft Water for Eczema Relief
It’s not surprising that people with eczema are more sensitive to hard water, since they already deal with a skin condition. But it’s worth noting that even individuals without eczema can benefit from soft water—that is, water without those dissolved calcium and magnesium minerals. Utilizing a water softener can help you get this type of water flowing everywhere in your home, from the kitchen sink to the shower.
Switching the soft water can be especially useful for those pursuing a Soak and Seal method for their eczema treatments. This involves taking a 5- to 10-minute lukewarm bath with a gentle cleanser. Then, when you get out of the tub, you try to leave your skin slightly damp before applying any topical medication and your whole-body moisturizer.
If you bath in hard water, you might just be setting your skin up for trouble. Giving yourself—and your family—soft water can be a better experience all around. There are plenty of benefits to soft water. It’s softer on your skin and hair, and it even helps make your clothing softer in the wash. Plus, soft water doesn’t leave those hard scale deposits on your fixtures around the house. When you want to be gentle on your skin, we can’t recommend soft water enough!