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Eczema Bulletin, Issue #019 - Does Hard Water Affect Eczema?
February 01, 2015

Eczema Bulletin, Issue #019 - Does Hard Water Affect Eczema?

Welcome to February's edition of the Eczema Bulletin e-zine, and thank you for subscribing.

This is the 19th edition of Eczema Bulletin. It will bring you articles and news about eczema, and also any updates to If you would like to add any suggestions for articles or news, or even add your own then I would love to hear from you

You can contact me here

This month's Eczema Bulletin includes

  • February's Featured Article – Does Hard Water Affect Eczema?
  • My favourite eczema news article
  • Tip of the Month
  • 5 Ways To.....treat ear eczema

Featured Article - Does Hard Water Affect Eczema?

It has long been questioned whether hard water has a negative effect on eczema.

Water becomes hard when 'pure' water, rain water for example, passes through chalk and limestone. Rainwater is naturally soft. The chalk and limestone cause the water to get a higher concentration of certain minerals, mainly calcium and magnesium. These minerals are what makes the water hard.

The hard water is then used in our homes, for drinking, bathing and washing. In the UK, around 60% of homes are supplied with hard water, and in the US, it is around 85%.

This can cause a problem for some eczema sufferers in a few ways.

  • the minerals in the water are left on the skin after contact. So after a shower or bath, all of the minerals don't get rinsed off. This can cause dry, flaky skin, as the minerals absorb moisture from your skin
  • the minerals also react with washing products. This causes soap scum to occur. The soap scum can left behind on clothes and bedding. Causing irritation when they come into contact with the skin
  • hard water increases the need for more soap, washing powder and shampoo to be used. This is because soaps do not work as well with hard water. Using even more soap products is definitely not good for eczematous skin

One way to alleviate the issues is to use a water softener.

A water softener, simply put, uses sodium and swaps it with the calcium and magnesium in the hard water. The sodium is put into the water, and is now soft.

They can be expensive, so it may be something you can look into if hard water is a real problem for you. But they are the most effective hard water treatment.

You could also try a water filter tap. You can add them to any sink. They normally dispense hot and cold filtered water. They are cheaper than softeners, but the filters need to be changed. The tap I looked at, said a filter lasts approximately 3 months.

If you think that hard water maybe an issue for your eczema, then you can decide which solution is the best one for you and your skin.

Eczema News Article

A study group in Ireland have come up with a test that could identify newborns who are more at risk from developing eczema.

In the study, the test was carried out on babies at 2 days old, and at 2 months old.

The test is described as 'painless' and 'non-invasive'. It measures the amount of water that evaporates from the skin. If the amount is high, then the child is more likely to develop eczema.

This corresponds with another factor in developing eczema.

Sufferers of eczema also tend to have a filaggrin deficiency. Filaggrin is a protein, and a deficiency causes defects in the skin barrier function. This allows allergens and irritants in more easy, and an increased loss of moisture from the skin.

If the test shows a higher risk of developing eczema that it could help parents protect their child's skin before the eczema develops. For example, applying an emollient to protect the skin.

It will be interesting to see if this test will be passed to be used routinely in hospitals in the future. I will keep you updated.

Tip Of The Month - Disposable Nappies Or Cloth Nappies?

As a baby I didn't wear disposable nappies. My mum told me that I got an allergic reaction from them.

This got me wondering if disposable nappies irritate eczema, and if they do, are cloth nappies a better option.

Firstly, it is widely known that babies can get nappy rash.

This could be

  • a yeast infection/rash, known as candida. It appears in the folds of the skin, and around the anus
  • or a bacterial infection. Normally Staph or Strep. It can appear as Impetigo

Because of this, it is very important to get it diagnosed before starting to treat it. If your child has eczema elsewhere on their body, it doesn't mean it is eczema in the nappy area.

So, back to nappies! Or diapers, depending on where you are from :)

There are reports that some babies can get an eczema flare up from wearing disposable nappies.

There are a few reasons why this might happen

  • the elastic band around the waist and legs
  • hydrogels, used to soak up the wee
  • the materials used to make the nappies
  • any dyes or fragrances used, they may irritate the skin

Different brands may affect your baby too. Some parents report that one brand will irritate their baby's skin, while another parent will say that the same brand is fine for their baby.

So one option is to try different brands. To make it more cost effective, you could see if some brands are giving away free samples, so you can try before you buy.

Another option, as the title says, is to use cloth nappies. When I was a baby, these were made of Terry towelling. I have found that cloth nappies seem to of evolved a bit over the last 35 years!

Some babies still get an allergic reaction from cloth diapers.

There could be a few reasons for that

  • the material they are made of. It is best to get 100% cotton ones
  • check the barrier cream you are using
  • use fragrant free liners
  • wash the nappies well, using a good detergent, and making sure they are rinsed out properly

So both types of nappies may aggravate eczema, but there is definitely more cases of disposable nappies being an irritant. Trial and error is definitely needed.

Do you have a tip you would like to share? Let me know :)

5 Ways To.......treat ear eczema

1. Topical creams and ointments. Emollients are vital to help moisturise the skin. They can help cool your skin, so reducing the itching. A short term remedy could be a topical steroid. Used sparingly, and for no longer than 7 days, it can help to clear a flare up so you can manage the condition in other ways. Always get a topical steroid from your doctor when using on the face or head

2. Steroidal ear drops. For when the eczema is inside the ear, in the ear canal. You would have these prescribed to you. You may be given Betnesol, containing bethamethasone, or Predsol, which contains prednisolone. It can be difficult to treat inner ear eczema, but these drops are a good option

3. Antihistamines. The itchiness of ear eczema can be completely distracting, especially when it is in the inside of the ear. Antihistamines can help relieve the itching. There are also a couple of natural ways you could use, a cold compress or colloidal oatmeal. A cold compress is just a damp soft flannel applied to the area. Colloidal oatmeal can be added to your favourite emollient

4. An allergy test. This is a good option if you are struggling to find out what is causing your eczema to flare up. Nickel could be a cause. It is found in a lot of earrings, and even in glasses. If the eczema is behind your ears, it may be from where your glasses sit

5. Shampoo used. When you wash your hair the shampoo will come into contact with your ears. Even running into your ears. One option is to use coal tar shampoo, or an anti-fungal shampoo if you have Seborrhoeic Dermatitis, which does appear behind the ears. If you have inner ear eczema you can cover some cotton wool with Vaseline, or another petroleum based cream, and place it into your ear. Put it in gently, don't push it in

Keeping Up-To-Date With What is Eczema

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The March edition of Eczema Bulletin will include

  • March's Featured Article – Teething and Eczema
  • My favourite news item of the month
  • Tip of the Month
  • 5 Ways To.....naturally soothe your eczema

Hope you enjoyed February's Eczema Bulletin, and thanks for reading


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