Could your tap water be causing eczema?

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baby bathing in tap water can cause eczemaAs a young child Little Miss Green used to get odd patches of eczema. They were not serious but they did cause intense itching and the fact she had them was a complete mystery to me because she was eating a healthy diet and I never used toxic products on her skin.

What I’ve learned recently is that it seems simply bathing in tap water can be enough to trigger eczema, especially if you live in a hard water area.

Studies have shown that hard water can be an eczema trigger, and that primary school children living in hard water areas are almost 50% more likely to have eczema than those living in a softer water area.

Tony Frost, an independent consultant with over 35 years’ experience in water treatment, says ‘It is thought that the calcium and magnesium in hard water cause dryness, which may lead to irritation, and households in hard water areas tend to use more soap and detergent, which may aggravate eczema sufferer’s skin’.

But hard water is not only harsh on the skin. I’ve talked before about the fact that eco friendly laundry products really struggle to work efficiently in our water and recently I’ve resorted back to fabric conditioner because our bath towels and bedding were just SO scratchy! Little Miss Green refers to her clothes as ‘cardboard’ and Mr Green was even getting irritation around his neck from the collars on his shirts.

Not only that but limescale builds up in the of your household appliances pipes and causes damage. Since I’ve lived here, we’re replaced the element in the immersion tank four times and worked our way through three kettles.

When on holiday in Devon and Cornwall I’ve been amazed at the difference to my skin. My hands are soft and my hair shines in a way that seems impossible to achieve at home. I don’t do anything differently other than, of course, use different tap water!

According to Kinetico in hard water areas the energy savings of a household with a water softener compared to one without were estimated at least 10%. And they reckon the average person uses an astonishing 70% more soap and detergent to get the same results as a soft water area.

Not only that but boilers, central heating systems, immersion heaters, dishwashers and washing machines run less efficiently in areas with hard water because the limescale deposits reduces their energy efficiency.

So it looks like investing in a water softener could be a good investment; not just for the health of your skin but your bank balance too!

What about you – have you ever used a water softener or do you have other tips and tricks for living in a hard water area?


  1. [email protected] eco friendly homemaking on November 13, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    Oh what a wonderful post!! We have had some type of water filtration system for about 20 years now. It makes such a huge difference in our drinking water. We are so ready to get a whole house system soon.

  2. Chris on November 21, 2012 at 11:24 am

    I too live in a hard water area. I currently do my washing with Lidl own non bio liquid and soda crystals to soften the water. This seems to reduce my husbands eczema and my washing machine works fine despite its age.

  3. A on December 4, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Yes, hard water is a nuisance.
    But still, I don’t use fabric softener. Instead, I use vinegar to neutralize detergent at the end of the washing cycle.
    To cut down the detergent usage, I use a magnoball. On the same principle, there are magnets for the toilet basin. It simply cuts down the use of chemicals.

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