The quality of water coming out of your tap is very important. For many people, tap water is drinking water. In the United States, millions of Americans drink water straight from the tap because the country has one of the best in the world. They do not expect to be sick from drinking tap water.
However, it is not for everyone. There are instances where mere exposure to tap water can be harmful.
What Is Eczema?
Eczema is a skin condition common among babies and young children. It is characterized by dry, itchy, and inflamed patches of skin, usually appearing on the arms, inner elbows, back of the knees, cheeks, and scalp. It is not contagious, and, most of the time, it disappears or becomes less severe as the child grows older.
However, some take the skin condition through adulthood. One study found that it occurs in 7.3 percent of adults in the U.S.
An eczema flare-up happens when one or more symptoms appear. These symptoms include intense itching, raised bumps filled with fluid, red or brown-gray patches, thickened or scaly skin, or crusty yellow patches of dried ooze.
An eczema flare-up is triggered by chemicals in detergents and household cleaners, synthetic fibers, sweating, changes in temperature, sudden drop in humidity.
Eczema, although not deadly, can be uncomfortable for those who have it. It is caused by an overactive immune system that attacks proteins that are normally present within the body. The immune system should only attack foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria.
Children who suffer from hay fever and asthma are more likely to have eczema. It can also be genetic; those who have family members with eczema are at risk of getting it, too.
In addition, one study found that tap water can be a contributor to children developing eczema.
When Tap Water Is the Culprit
Previous research conducted in the United Kingdom involving 1,300 three-month-old infants found a link between hard water and eczema. To investigate, they checked the water quality in each participant’s house. They looked at mineral content and levels of chlorine in the water supply.
They found that babies living in households with hard water are up to 87 percent more likely to have eczema. No water is pure H2O. The water coming out of your tap usually contains minerals such as calcium and magnesium. If water has high amounts of these minerals, they are referred to as “hard water.” In contrast, “soft water” is free of these minerals.
Drinking hard water is not bad for your health. In fact, the body needs these minerals to survive. However, it does cause a problem. When water is hard, it can lead to minor annoyances such as stains in white clothing or a greasy film in plates and glasses. It can also cause major problems such as damaged pipes. Homeowners will need to call plumbing services to make replacements.
Experts have long suspected that hard water may play a part in the prevalence of eczema. There has been previous research that suggested a link between hard water and eczema among school-age children. However, more studies are needed to conclude that there is a direct link between the two.
Preventing Eczema in Babies
For now, parents can take precautions by switching to soft water. There are water softeners installed so that every tap in the household will have soft water flowing out of them. Boiling can also remove some levels of hardness from the water.
Although there is no surefire way to prevent eczema, especially if it runs in the family, parents can still try by keeping their baby’s skin moisturized all the time. Even if there is no obvious rash, apply a cream or lotion on the baby’s skin at least twice a day to prevent dryness.
Some studies also suggested that eczema was reduced when mothers took probiotics during pregnancy and breastfeeding. However, more study needs to be done to see if there really is an impact.
More importantly, if there is a history of eczema within the family, avoid exposing the child to common irritants such as rough fabric, harsh soaps, and extreme temperatures. Doing so will prevent the child from having a flare-up.
Eczema is common among babies and children. It is uncomfortable and embarrassing, especially for older kids, as this can affect their opinions about their appearance. The skin condition is often hereditary, but one study found a link between the occurrence of eczema and hard water. However, you can take steps to address this and ensure it doesn’t severely affect you and your child.