Hard tap water linked to eczema in babies

By Laura Mize • Published: September 27th, 2016
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

People who suffer from eczema are plagued by red, itchy, dry skin and frequent rashes.

Finding the cause of this incurable condition can be frustratingly difficult. Eczema sufferers search for possible environmental triggers while desperately trying to keep their skin adequately moisturized and protected.

Researchers writing in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology examined the effect of one potential culprit on the tiniest patients: 3-month-old babies.

Specifically, scientists at King’s College in London looked at water hardness, the levels of minerals found in tap water. They homed in on calcium carbonate and chlorine. Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound found in limestone and other rocks. Chlorine is a chemical used for water treatment.

The study found that babies in homes with water that had a higher level of calcium carbonate were more likely to develop eczema. In fact, the risk increased by as much as 87 percent. There was no significant link to chlorine.

Previous research findings have suggested a correlation between hard tap water and eczema in older children. The current study reinforces those findings and also begs the question: Do people develop eczema partly because of exposure as babies to hard water?

The good news is that relatively straightforward solutions for hard water already exist and could potentially be helpful in preventing and controlling eczema.

Next, the researchers want to focus on whether using a water softener will prevent at least some eczema cases. If it does, people suffering from eczema could get some relief and scratch one culprit off the list.