According to the South African National Eczema Association (SANEA), eczema affects 10% of all infants. For some, it is a lifelong battle and incurable, which causes distress to parents and children.
For years, Japanese and European researchers have warned that water hardness, which is caused by calcium carbonate, as well as chlorine levels, have increased the risk of eczema in school children.
A study by King’s College London and a more recent study by Perkin et al, prove that water hardness causes infant eczema, linking this to an 87% increase in the risk of eczema, along with chlorine and other chemicals contributing to the risk.
In South Africa, this belief is starting to take root, too.
Tony Marchesini, managing director of H2O International SA says, “Our tap water is treated with chlorine, aluminum sulphate and fluoride, and there are good reasons for this. We need to eliminate the real nasties like cholera, typhoid and other frightening waterborne illnesses, and keep the water safe all the way from the municipal reservoirs to our homes.
But once you are ready to use it, it is absolutely essential that you remove the chemicals. The absorption of chemicals and contaminants through the skin is just as bad as via consumption.”
Parents need to be careful not to believe that bathing a baby who is prone to eczema will always be helpful. The water needs to be free from calcium carbonate, chlorine and other chemicals in order for it to be effective.
One way of achieving this is by installing a water purification system that offers a carbon filter and an ion-exchange component. Experts suggest that even if your baby doesn’t suffer from eczema, water that is used for bathing should be softened using an ion-exchange filter and purified using a charcoal system that removes chlorine and other harmful chemicals.
It’s essential that parents are aware of the research around the dangers of chlorine and hard water to their babies, and the rest of their family,” says Marchesini. “The very things added to our water to keep it safe are harming us, but luckily there are solutions available.”
To get more help and advice on childhood eczema, visit the South African National Eczema Association website.