Eczema And Hard Or Soft Water

Eczema And Hard Or Soft Water. The Symptoms Have Moved!

Dear Clean Water Man:

We had a water softener installed because our children’s dermatologist recommended it to help with our teenage son and daughter’s eczema.  Initially we were very pleased with the results since the facial eczema and scaly scalp symptoms went away within five days.  Then, the eczema appeared on our childrens’ bodies, especially their backs and stomach areas.  Our water treatment company has been kind and returned several times to test the water, but it always tests perfectly soft.  Is there any way the water is sometimes hard and just always soft whenever a test gets done?

Itchy in Fairfield, CT


Thank you for your letter.  I came and tested your treated water and it is perfectly soft and your current water treatment company is doing a fine job for you.  I asked you a bunch of questions and there was one issue that you needed to change, and after my follow up call to you, I discovered that my diagnosis was correct.

Many times, detergent mixed with hard water leaves a residue on clothing.  When the clothing is worn during the day, perspiration reactivates the detergent and the detergent irritates the skin and can cause eczema type symptoms or outright eczema.  This is what happens when hard water causes eczema in the clothing areas.

Unfortunately, without proper knowledge, soft water can cause the same problem, although through a different mechanism.  When hardness is removed from the wash water, there is nothing to keep the detergent from developing massive amounts of suds.  Think of the Brady Bunch episode when someone put too much detergent in the wash.  Tons and tons of suds.  The suds build up, and, especially with top loaders, they can even sit up just below the lid and not get rinsed away.  To some extent, even the no or low suds hE detergents can suds up quite well in soft water.  The remedy is simple: the amount of detergent used in the washing machine needs to be reduced.

For top load washers, use about a quarter of the recommended scoop.  For hE front loaders, cut it down to half the recommended amount.  Giant amounts of suds are just evidence of using too much detergent.  Lessen the amount of detergent and the skin irritations will decrease significantly.

If you live in Connecticut and have a water related problem, call Clean Water Man, Inc. at 203-417-9601.

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