If you’ve been following this blog, you’d know I don’t jump into eczema (miracle) cures. I still don’t.
But as I read journeys of how eczema sufferers are cured, I realized that there are common approaches they take. These may not be THE (or even an) eczema cure but I think there’re certain situations which they may help improve eczema. I hazard a guess and this series is more about a holistic approach to controlling eczema – I suppose you can call it a cure if one approach singularly works well for you!
The Water Not to Use – HOT
Hot water strips moisture from the skin and it is never recommended by dermatologists. It may feel good because the heat temporarily numbs the (itch) nerves and so a hot shower offer temporarily relief – avoid at all costs. Consider other bath options that are more beneficial for eczema, dry skin and relief such as a cool compress.
Does the Water Type Matter?
Drinking water – There was a study in 2005-2006 in the US that showed a possible link between the chemical dichlorophenol present in tap water and higher incidence of food allergy. If the food allergy manifest as skin rash, then it’s possible that changing the water we drink help our eczema. Apart from this one study, no other study was found in Pubmed. Apart from tap water, fruits and vegetables also contain this chemical, found in pesticides. (note: See Singapore PUB link on Singapore Drinking Water Quality, dichlorophenol is present)
Updated on 27 Oct 2016 – For those of you wondering about the benefits of alkaline water, interesting read on MedicalNewsToday – no benefit and even showed harm!
Bathing water – Too Alkaline – Tap water is alkaline with an average pH value of 8. As the skin pH is slightly acidic, washing with alkaline contribute to skin dryness. Thus, another reason to limit your shower time. Read more from dermatologist Dr Cheryl Lee on vinegar bath increases the acidity of the bath water.
Hard water vs soft water – Hard water is caused by limestone (calcium carbonate) dissolving in the water and it is the white deposit that is seen in kettles, bath tubs and steamer. Hard water has been associated with higher incidences of eczema and identified as environmental trigger. However, in a randomized-controlled trial, there was no significant difference in families whose eczema children use hard water versus soft water (via a water softener). However, many eczema sufferers personally feel better about using soft water, partly due to lower pH level and less detergent needed in soft water washing.
Spring water – A well-known spring water spa for eczema sufferers is La Roche-Pasay in France. It’s possible that a higher selenium content or the presence of a certain bacteria (Vitreoscilla filiformis) in spring water is beneficial for dry skin.
What Matters for Shower
The important thing is to moisturize immediately after a shower – this one step outweigh the type of water you use or even what you use to shower with (no soap). Immediately moisturizing traps moisture on the skin and limits the evaporation of moisture from the skin after bath. Leave some moisture on the skin, don’t rub very dry and trap some of that with an emollient cream/ointment right after bath.
For me, I don’t use any special water but always limit the time taken to shower. It’s usually quite fast like within 5 minutes, followed up moisturizing. What’s your experience on water you use at home? Do share in the comments! Also if you missed the rest of the Eczema ‘Cure’ Series, below are the links:
2 replies on “Eczema ‘Cure’ Series – Does the type of Water Matter?”
The great philosophy you have with your blog is to be open-minded, and always to consider that what works for one person may not work for another. As they say ” There are horses for courses and there are courses for horses…”
Two more points
1. Using a water softener is not the same as living in a soft water area
2. We recommend use of a soap substitute (essentially an emollient) on the skin before contact with water too. Water needs to be seen as a problem for atopic skin – it needs some protection as the skin barrier function is deficient and needs a little regular help!
Lovely to be in touch with you.
Keep it up!
Thanks Dr B – I can’t help but be open-minded as parents are always anxious to find out more beyond what the docs say. It’s better to tackle these rather than sweep under the carpet. Love your points on soap substitute – I hear so much about it from a dermatology nurse who used to work in the UK but I haven’t figured out how to do it! To me, it feels kind of slimy to coat an emollient before water contact but I know it’s being practised and ‘dermatologically’ sound, thanks!