Water bosses admit supply change could indirectly be behind skin rashes
Water bosses have admitted that a change to the west Cumbrian supply could indirectly be the cause of people's skin rashes.
Scores of people have been complaining of irritated and itchy skin since United Utilities began blending soft water with hard.
The company has now said that, due to the soap not lathering as much in the new water, people are using more and then not removing it completely which can cause irritation.
A spokeswoman for the company said: "As soap does not lather as much with harder water people tend to use more soap and may not rinse as effectively, because the soap lather is not as obvious.
"This can leave soap residue on the skin and can cause irritation. This may be why people have had skin rashes etc."
She added anyone with concerns should visit their doctor.
Following a raft of complaints, United Utilities has announced it will hold drop in sessions next week to answer any questions.
Since the change - which saw soft water from Ennerdale mixed with harder water from Egremont boreholes - residents have also complained of upset stomachs and eye and mouth ulcers, claiming the water to be the cause.
This has resulted in many contacting the water company and the News & Star to find the root of the problem.
Hundreds of people have also taken to social media to air their views.
Becky Glover wrote: "Maybe this is why I'm itchy, especially on my head and hairline."
And Emma Ozdemjir said: "The water is disgusting: tea tastes rotten, makes you feel dirty, leaves rotten stains in your cups, and I've had mouth ulcers which I've never had before. My husband is itching and so are my kids."
There are also suggestions of starting up a petition in a bid to make United Utilities listen and even ideas to stop paying water rates until the situation is solved.
United Utilities' water and scientific services director Martin Padley said: "We've had contact from a number of customers in the Copeland area who have noticed the new harder water supply.
"We wanted to set up some sessions to make it easy for people to come and talk to us and raise any questions.
"We tend to take our tap water for granted and when something changes it can cause understandable concern. I can reassure everyone that our regular analysis and monitoring of the water supply shows that even though it's different it still meets the same high quality standards."
The sessions, which run from 1pm to 8pm, take place at Egremont Methodist Church next Wednesday and on Thursday at The Beacon in Whitehaven.