Miracle Water


Story Details

A type of water is being touted as having the power to heal various skin conditions such as eczema in children.

Severe eczema sufferer Genevieve Lim flew halfway around the world to the tiny village of Avene in the south of France for treatment.

"I've tried everything that's out there, I really do think it's my last chance," she said.

"I just don't want to show my skin."

Like more than 2.2 million Australian eczema sufferers, Genevieve has had the skin condition her whole life.

The itch keeps her awake each night and during the day she covers up.

Genevieve's Professor, Dede Murrell, has exhausted all treatment options.

"She would be in the top 5 per cent of severity for patients with eczema," Professor Murrell said.

"At the moment she's partially controlled on a powerful tablet that is used by transplant patients but it's not fully effective for her."

When Professor Murrell was asked to send a patient to France to experience a hydrotherapy treatment, Genevieve was her first choice, but the professor is sceptical.

"I don't know whether it has to do with placebo effect or whether it's a genuine effect," Professor Murrell said.

The Avene Dermatological Hydrotherapy centre boasts thousands of success stories.

About 2500 patients, including many children, flock to it every year.

Marie-Ange Martinic is the centre's director.

It is owned by a French chemist who also uses the water in the Avene product range available here.

Didier Guarraro is an independent scientist who tested the water. He found it helps block the release of histamines that cause atomic dermatitis.

"It is well known with atopic dermatitis there is an imbalance between immune cells," Guarraro said.

"It's possible to block the histamine release and re-establish the balance of the immune cells involved in atopic dermatitis."

For Genevieve the change is incredible. All she is left with is a lifetime of eczema scarring.

"Knowing I've tried all these different kinds of medication, creams that have had side-effects to think that just pure water has worked on my skin and made it better I can't believe it," she said.

The water's journey takes 40 years from the time it rains down onto the mountains until it is eventually pumped up from deep in the ground into the baths and showers at the hydrotherapy centre.

All up 70,000 litres of the water flow out of the spring every hour at a warm 25.6 degrees.

Genevieve's daily ritual was regimented, a lukewarm 20 minute spa bath. Next, a five minute shower from 12 nozzles to remove dead skin cells and then another five minutes of mist.

Then an unusual 10-minute massage using the water.

You have to drink it also, up to two litres a day, and follow a regime of moisturising using heavy emollient creams containing the water.

Stephen Shumack from the Australasian College of Dermatologists, believes the effect on Genevieve's skin will not last for long.

"The mineral content makes the Avene water isotonic," he said.

"That means the application of this water, the baths and the spas are very gentle to the skin."

Story contacts

Hydrotherapy Centre's website is www.avenecenter.com.

Avene Thermal Spring Water & Trixera Products are those in the range particularly formulated for skin conditions.