Many people install water softeners in their homes in a bid to find relief from symptoms of eczema.
A recent study spanning 12 weeks in England followed 336 children aged 6 months to 16 years, found that the use of water softeners did not make a big difference in alleviating symptoms of eczema.
As part of the study, half of the study group had water softeners installed in their homes, while the other half continued to use hard water. The subjects continued with the prescribed eczema treatment.
The severity of eczema was evaluated before, during and after the study. Information about the study groups' use of medications, creams and even their movement at night was noted. At the end of the study, the two groups did not experience any marked relief in symptoms of eczema. There was a 20% improvement in symptoms among the group which used softeners and 22% improvement in the group that used hard water.
The University of Nottingham's Hywel Williams, a study co-author said, "Our research had already shown that eczema is more common in primary school children living in hard water areas in the UK compared with children living in soft water areas.No one really knows why, but it could be because hard water contains high levels of calcium and magnesium, leading to increased use of soaps which can act as skin irritants. We would have been happier if we had shown a clear benefit of using water softeners. However, that is not the case, and we need to face the truth."