Does hard water worsen chronic skin conditions?

ahrd water graph Around a quarter of people in England, Scotland and Wales are living with a long-term, chronic skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis, a YouGov poll has revealed – a figure much higher than previously thought.

If the research pool of more than 4,000 people were to be extrapolated to the wider population, this would suggest a figure of eleven million throughout Great Britain.

The survey was commissioned by Harvey Water Softeners. The theory that soft water may help reduce symptoms of eczema has long been reported on and explored, but with mixed results.

For example, among the lowest rates were reported in soft water areas such as Yorkshire and Humber and the North East, yet the South East, with very hard water, also has one of the lowest rates, according to the survey. Wales, which has only soft to moderately soft, and slightly hard to moderately hard water, also have high number of eczema sufferers too.

This report would be consistent with the mixed results from other research, previously undertaken. Some of this is outlined within this article from 2013, written by an independent consultant in water treatment. Anecdotal evidence for the benefits of water softening is widely reported, but the results of the SWET trial in 2009 found “no objective difference in outcomes” between children with eczema who had been using softened water for bathing than those who didn’t.

Commenting on the Harveys findings, research fellow in dermatology at the University of Sheffield Dr Simon Danby said that, “there is evidence of a relationship between domestic water hardness and the prevalence of eczema, however this relationship is complex and probably involves the interaction of other factors such as the wash products and laundry detergents we use to cleanse our skin and clothes. Clearly more research is required to better understand just how our wash water affects our skin.”

To browse Harvey Water Softener products (UK), click here.
For a selection of water softener products and sundries in the US, click here.

If you found this article interesting you might wish to look at our many other articles both on general skin health and on specific skins conditons such as eczema or psoriasis.

Back to top