Winter eczema: How water could be making your eczema worse

Winter eczema: How water could be making your eczema worse

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Eczema is a type of skin condition that’s caused by a combination of immune system activation, genetics and environmental triggers, affecting one in 10 adults in the UK. For many Brits, the winter weather has worsened eczema symptoms as the cold air dries out, but it turns out those long, hot showers could be making it even more inflamed. Managing eczema during the winter can be tricky, but making these simple adjustments could relieve some of the symptoms.

How water quality affects eczema

A recent study by The University of Sheffield has found that the hardness of tap water can affect the inflammation of atopic dermatitis – more commonly known as eczema.

The study tested how washing with different kinds of water affects those suffering with eczema and skin irritation.

One of the key conclusions from the study was that hard water ultimately makes eczema worse.

Calcium, magnesium and other other properties found in hard water were found to be the most drying, pro-aging substances which contribute to inflammation of eczema on the skin by disrupting the skin’s natural moisture barrier.

While you can’t completely change the hardness of your water, Harvey Water Softeners have shared their top tips to prevent skin irritation and dryness this winter.

Check your water

Your skin needs extra TLC in the winter while battling icy winds and plummeting temperatures as well as dry, heated air in the home.

Use a postcode tracker like Harveys Water Softeners hard water checker to assess the quality of your tap water in the home.

If your postcode has a water hardness level of over 100ppm (parts per million), you could benefit from a water softener.
Water softeners work by removing the calcium and magnesium mineral from your water as it enters your home.

Limit showering

Water quality in the UK differs across the nation with some areas accessing harder water than others.

The South East of England and London are known for particularly high levels of water hardness which can worsen the effects of eczema when showering, bathing, or washing your hands.

Limiting the number of showers you have in a day will expose your skin to the irritating substances in hard water while maintaining natural oil levels in the skin.

Speaking to, Harvey Water Softeners said: “There is nothing better than jumping in a hot shower after a long day. However, extremely hot showers can dry out your skin, rather than hydrating it.

“To avoid stripping the moisture from your cells, limit your warm showers to no more than one 10 minutes a day.”

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Moisturise regularly

Natural, thick moisturisers work well to repair damage to the skin’s moisture barrier and help manage eczema symptoms.

Replenish moisture by applying lotions or emollients in a humid environment, perhaps after a bath or shower when the skin is fully hydrated.

This will lock much-needed moisture into the skin and should be done at least twice a day.

During the winter, you should use thicker products to supplement lost moisture and pay particular attention to your hands and face – these are key areas which are exposed to the cold winter air and can quickly become dry and damaged.

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Avoid friction

When suffering with eczema, it is important to keep your skin moisturised and calm with gentle products and fabrics that won’t irritate existing flare-ups.

There are a few key points to remember when managing eczema in the winter, including:

  • Use gentle exfoliating products to carefully remove dead or flaky skin – avoid coarse textures
  • Pat yourself dry after showering instead of rubbing to avoid hard water aggravating the skin
  • Wear 100 percent cotton or linen fabrics as an under-layer to synthetic fabrics
  • Wash clothing and bedding in softened water
  • Avoid poly-cotton sheets or synthetic bedding – 100 percent cotton is best for eczema sufferers

Stay hydrated

Keeping your skin moisturised starts from within, so don’t skimp on your water intake through the winter months.

While your body may feel cold outside, drinking plenty of cold water will keep your skin supple and your mind focused.

Herbal tea is a warming alternative to plain water, but you should always keep a jug nearby to remind yourself to keep sipping.

Use a water filter to remove impurities such as micro-plastics and chalky minerals in the process for a more refined drink.

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