Harvey Water Softeners donates cutting-edge £40k equipment to pioneering eczema research study

Harvey Water Softeners is very proud to have donated a new spectrometer device worth £40,000 to a pioneering research study which could revolutionise our understanding of childhood eczema.

The handheld device was gifted to the Unit for Population-Based Dermatology Research at St John’s Institute of Dermatology, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London, led by Dr Carsten Flohr, Consultant Dermatologist and senior National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Fellow.

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Dr Flohr’s team will be conducting a clinical trial to investigate the effect of hard water and skin care practices on the skin barrier of newborn babies and how this links in with the development of eczema.

The Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometer will be used in this study. Its infrared light source allows different wavelengths of energy to be absorbed or reflected when passed through a sample, giving a molecular ‘fingerprint’ spectrum and helping researchers to detect minuscule differences in soap residue on the skin. With eczema affecting an estimated 20 per cent of children and 7 per cent of adults in the UK, it’s hoped the FTIR device will help the research team to develop more effective preventative measures and treatments for this disabling skin condition.

Dr Carsten Flohr, Lead Researcher of the study, said, “This FTIR device will support our work significantly and we’re grateful to Harvey Water Softeners for this latest show of support. “Not only should the device improve the speed and accuracy of future research studies, but the data it gives our teams access to could lead to clearer insights into what drives the breakdown of the skin barrier in eczema.”

Harvey Bowden, founder of Harvey Water Softeners, said: “It’s exciting to be doing our bit to help with this potentially life-changing work. We’ve been helping people live with and alleviate skin conditions for forty years through our water softening products, so we know how a future of healthier skin would benefit everyone.

“We saw this as a unique opportunity to investigate what we’ve long suspected; that a higher soap residue left on the skin through exposure to hard water may contribute to the development of eczema in early life. If it gets us closer to solving the debilitating problem of eczema, the investment will have been worth every penny.”

The FTIR device works by measuring the reflection of light rays on a surface, allowing it to detect soap residue left on the skin after washing. Initial tests by Harvey Water Softeners at its Woking headquarters showed much higher concentrations of soap residue left after washing in hard water compared to softened water. Approved by the Good Housekeeping Institute, Harvey Water Softeners manufacturer’s the UK’s best-selling water softener. Founded in Surrey in 1978, it has been Thames Water’s chosen water softener affinity partner since 2012 and is fully approved by the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS).

If you are a member of the press and would like to discuss this story further, please contact Rob Tomkinson (pr@harvey.co.uk/ 07723 602254/ 0115 824 2212).

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