Can water quality impact Eczema?
How Water in Your Home Impacts Your Eczema
What often goes unnoticed in the context of eczema is the impact of water hardness on the skin. Hard water, characterized by its high mineral content, can exacerbate eczema symptoms and dry out the skin. The minerals in hard water can form a film on the skin, hindering its ability to retain moisture and leading to increased irritation and itching. Let's explore the impact of that everyday essential H20 on eczema and how certain measures can be taken to alleviate your skin concerns.
What is hard water?
Hard water is water that contains a relatively high concentration of dissolved minerals, particularly calcium and magnesium ions. These minerals are naturally present in the earth's crust and can dissolve in water as it comes into contact with rocks and soil. As rainwater percolates through the ground, it absorbs these minerals, resulting in hard water. Water hardness depends on the region you are in.
When hard water is heated, such as in kettles, water heaters, and coffee makers, mineral deposits or limescale is left behind. It often appears white and powdery and is hard to remove. Another clue is that hard water can make some soaps feel like they leave a residue in your skin or hair. If you’ve lived your entire life in one area, you may have never questioned your water hardness, believing that all water from the faucet feels the same. However, these differences can feel very significant. Soft water, for example, feels very smooth and buttery; some would describe it as feeling soapy in its pure form. To find out the hardness of your water, you can check the website of your municipal water department or explore online water hardness maps.
How does hard water affect a skin condition?
Hard water, with its higher levels of calcium, can be irritating to the skin. When bathing, the minerals in hard water can bind to soap particles, leaving a stubborn residue on the skin that can exacerbate inflammation. Additionally, hard water can alter the skin's pH, making it more sensitive to damage from irritants, allergens, and bacteria. According to the National Eczema Association, this can be especially true for individuals with a filaggrin gene mutation, a common gene associated with eczema.
Water is ubiquitous. We drink it, we wash with it, and we use it to cook. It is the unseen element of all of our daily actions. If you have tried a variety of products, both prescribed and natural and found little relief, look to your water and perhaps examine whether its hardness is impacting your skin’s ability to retain moisture.
Water softeners are devices designed to remove excess calcium ions from hard water, making it gentler on the skin. They can be installed directly on a shower head. They include exchangeable filters that remove minerals as the water pushes through the shower head.
Water hardness levels can also explain unexpected changes to how your skin is feeling when you’re on the go. Sometimes, the stress (or relaxation) of travel is the reason, but it can also be due the water hardness in the foreign place.
When the water itself makes it hard to maintain moisture
The topic itself is ironic—that’s why we’re talking about it. Hard water’s minerals can make it hard for skin to absorb moisture, so if that is a factor in your environment, take extra care to moisturize. Regularly applying moisturizers helps lock in moisture, creating a protective barrier that shields the skin from external irritants. Natural moisturizers enriched with soothing ingredients like aloe vera, chamomile, or colloidal oatmeal can provide added relief to inflamed skin.
Ultimately, the key to effectively managing eczema lies in finding a personalized and balanced approach. Acknowledging the impact of hard water and maintaining a strong moisturization routine are keys to having a good care strategy.
For an extra enriching burst of moisture that shields your skin from water loss, explore our dry skin collection.
National Eczema Association. (2022, January 22). Dr. Ari Zelig Answers "Can water quality impact my eczema?" | Ask the Ecz-perts [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMn1Bc4RhR8