No Comfort from Soft Water

Installing a water softener may not provide relief for eczema patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Contrary to popular belief, water softeners may not provide relief for children who suffer from eczema.

Some patients have reported that hard water makes their eczema worse. Certain surveys have also suggested that there might be a link between atopic eczema (the most common form of the disorder) and the level of water hardness.

Researchers at the University of Nottingham wanted to put this notion to the test. In a study involving 336 children between the ages of six months and 16 years, researchers installed water softeners in participants' homes in order to see if it provided any additional relief from their eczema symptoms.

Although they hoped water softeners would serve as an easy but effective way to reduce the uncomfortable symptoms of eczema, the researchers found no significant difference in outcomes between children whose homes had water softeners installed and those without water softeners.

Eczema - a chronic skin disorder that causes scaly and itchy rashes - primarily affects infants. Even though most children outgrow the condition by early adulthood, eczema can continue to be an irritating and painful problem for many adults. In the United States, approximately 15 million people suffer from eczema.

The study, which is entitled Soften Water Eczema Trial (SWET), is published in the journal PLOS Medicine.

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Last Updated:
February 16, 2011