Does hard water irritate your atopic dermatitis?

Does anyone find that the hard water at their house irritates their atopic dermatitis? Has anyone tried to install a water softener? If so, has that helped?


Community Answers
  • Stefanie Bord moderator
    3 months ago

    Hi, Ruby4now, and Sarah,

    I grew up in a house that had VERY hard water. My sisters and I used to hate going to hotels as kids because we felt like we were still soapy forever with the water softeners that they had, but our hair looked GORGEOUS all vacation long! With super hard water, you can’t even get a lather going on your skin because of how the minerals react with the soap. I’m not sure that it’s the soap that stays on the clothes–I believe it has something to do with a mineral build up (which could obviously still bother your skin!).

    Nowadays, after having kids, the only detergent I’ll use for clothes and towels is the free and clear stuff and that seems to have made an improvement. Adding fabric softener can make my skin flare up too. Ugh! All these sensitivities!!!

    Related, my doc recommended only using soap that is super moisturizing (for example, something like Dove) and that has also helped my skin. But I can never go without moisturizer after no matter what!

    The National Center for Biotechnology Information (part of the National Institutes of Health) has Atopic Dermatitis listed as one of the health concerns of hard water (as well as many other very scary things…but they are talking about all different kinds of hard water. Did you know hard water just refers to a large amount of minerals in your water? Depending on the mineral types, you can have different issues!). Here’s the article (scroll down a ways to find the Atopic Dermatitis section): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3775162/

    For a little bit of lighter reading on hard water and laundry, you can do a quick google search and find tons of info and ways to make it not so bad for your skin!

    Happy Laundering and Bathing in hopefully not-too-hard water!

    Stefanie (AtopicDermatitis.net Team Member)

  • Sarah Wallin moderator
    3 months ago

    Hi Stefanie!

    Thanks for providing all of this helpful information and insight about hard water! Your tips for getting around if you don’t have soft water are very useful! Also the additional information about minerals in the water is very interesting!

    -Sarah (AtopicDermatitis.net Team Member)

  • Ruby4now
    4 months ago

    It’s not so much the hard water, as the soap you’re unable to fully rinse off in hard water. My family got a water softener on the suggestion of my dermatologist when I was in grade school, that was over 50 years ago. Within a week there was a lasting major improvement. That helped more than any medication that I’ve ever used. The same soap you’re able to rinse off your skin, you are able to more fully rinse from your clothes. My mom didn’t use much soap when she washed, but was warned by the folks who they bought the softener from to not add soap to towels on the first wash. That was a good thing! With no soap added she had to rinse them twice to get all the soap out of them. All that is left in your clothes if you use hard water.

  • Sarah Wallin moderator
    4 months ago

    Hi Ruby4now,

    I’m so glad to hear that your family’s water softener as suggested by the dermatologist had a lasting major improvement on your skin! Most people talk about how soft water benefits their skin while showeing/bathing, but you bring up an good point about how soft water helps to rinse the soap from your clothes as compared to hard water! Many members of the community have said they have sensitivities to detergents so it makes sense that this could be helpful for that. Thanks for weighing in!

    -Sarah (AtopicDermatitis.net Team Member)

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