Hard Water and Eczema
February 26, 2018
Hard water and chlorine exposure are thought to be risk factors for the development of infantile atopic dermatitis (eczema). Dermatologists from Kings College, London, UK explored this possible relationship.
They looked at the calcium carbonate levels, the mineral responsible for making water “hard,” and chlorine concentrations in the infant’s local water supply, two chemicals known to damage the skin’s natural barrier. They also evaluated the skin of 1,300 three-month-old infants seen in their clinic for food allergies. The infants were also screened for a mutation in the filaggrin gene. This gene is known to code for skin proteins important in the functioning of the skin barrier.
They found that infants in areas with hard water were 87% more likely to have eczema. The chlorine content of the water had no effect on the risk of developing eczema. The infants with a mutation in the filaggrin gene had a small, but not statistically significant increased risk of eczema.
The researchers tried to control for many factors. One they were unable to control for was chlorine exposure from swimming pools.
They don’t believe that their findings are strong enough for them to recommend installing water softeners. They hope their future studies will address this issue.
Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 10/16