Eczema Club reader review
"A very good informative site about this very distressing condition. As an ex sufferer myself I can really relate to this as it advocates natural remedies rather than drugs and medicated ointments. A good site for the topic."
- Susan,

Eczema Sufferers Test Out Benefits Of Water Softeners

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

ScienceDaily (Nov. 30, 2007) — In the very first trial of its kind in the world over 300 families are being recruited to find out if water softeners can help in the treatment of childhood eczema.

The independent trial run by clinicians at The University of Nottingham has received funding of nearly £1million from the Department of Health's National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme. The study will focus on hard water areas in Nottingham and Leicester, Cambridge, London and the Isle of Wight.

The aim of the Soft Water Eczema Trial (SWET) is to discover whether eczema can be improved by deliberately softening all water used in the home — except at one tap in the kitchen which will supply mains water for drinking.

Families of eczema sufferers and some doctors have said that living in a hard water area may make eczema worse.

Recently a team of researchers at The University of Nottingham found that eczema is more common in primary school children living in hard water areas in the UK compared with children living in soft water areas. No one really knows why, but it could be because hard water contains high levels of calcium and magnesium, leading to increased use of soaps which can act as skin irritants.

Professor Hywel Williams and his research team at the Centre of Evidence Based Dermatology are running the trial. Professor Williams said: “I have wanted to do this study for many years as patients keep telling me that water softeners help their skin, but other people aren't so sure. Carrying out a proper randomised controlled trial will help us find the answer. If ion-exchange water softeners are found to improve the symptoms of eczema, this will be an extremely important finding for both patients and doctors. Many patients worry about the possible side effects of the usual treatments for eczema, so this would be a welcome addition to their treatment options.”

The study is in the process of recruiting 310 children between the ages of 6 months and 16 years who have moderate to severe eczema.

Up to one fifth of all children of school age have eczema, along with about one in twelve of the adult population. The severity of the disease can vary. In mild forms the skin is dry, red and itchy, whist in more severe forms the skin can become broken, raw and bleeding. Eczema is not contagious and with treatment the inflammation of eczema can be reduced, though the skin will always be sensitive to flare-ups and need extra care and protection against dryness.

The water softener industry (through their representative body, the UK Water Treatment Association) – is closely involved in the development of the trial and a generic water softener has been specially produced for the study. The industry is meeting the costs of producing and installing water softener units. The study findings will be quite independent from any industry influence.

The trial will run until the end of next year and the results won't be known until the end of 2009 when all the information has been analysed.

Adapted from materials provided by University of Nottingham. University of Nottingham (2007, November 30). Eczema Sufferers Test Out Benefits Of Water Softeners.

Eczema Club note on hard water:

What is hard water?

Hard water is water containing a high level of calcium, magnesium, and other minerals. Hard water reduces the cleansing power of soap and produces scale in hot water lines and appliances. On contrary, water with a low mineral content is known as soft water.



Eczema Club reader review

"You have a great site with honest evaluation of dangerous herbal products plus the good advice. Many will be helped by your site if they apply what you have posted."
- Muryal,

"Great looking blog and a good little niche to help fellow sufferers. The laout is easy on the eye and the navigation a breeze. I liked the article on water softeners. Its great that you provide your readers with information like ongoing studies and research. As for you question, I really don't know of any way you can improve your blog. It looks great to me. I wish you all the best."
- Linda,