REF2014 Impact Case Study: Demonstration of the ineffectiveness of water softeners in reducing symptoms of eczema in children

  • Taraneh Dean (Participant)

Impact: Health & Welfare Impacts

Description of impact

As a direct result of our research clinical practitioners and healthcare professionals are now able to provide evidence-based advice that the use of water softeners will not alleviate the symptoms of eczema, thus managing expectations in patients and their families.

Who is affected

Clinical practitioners, healthcare professionals, patients and their families.


There have been widespread anecdotal reports of skin improvement of people with eczema when moving from a hard- to a soft-water area, but a previous systematic review of eczema treatments (Hoare et al HTA Systematic Review 2000) failed to identify any relevant trials evaluating the potential benefit of water softeners for eczema. In view of the limited evidence the UK NIHR Health Technology Assessment programme prioritised and commissioned the Softened Water Eczema Trial (SWET). The SWET had two main objectives: (1) to assess whether water softeners reduce the severity of eczema in children with moderate to severe eczema, and, if so, (2) to establish the likely cost and cost-effectiveness of the intervention. The research provided conclusive evidence that the use of water softeners provides no additional benefit to usual care in this study population.
Impact statusOpen
Category of impactHealth & Welfare Impacts
Impact levelBenefit (delivered impact)


  • Eczema


  • REF2014