The effect of water on experimentally irritated skin was studied in 21 healthy volunteers to evaluate water as a primary irritant. Volunteers had one hand exposed to water 15 min twice daily for 2 weeks, while the other hand served as control. The transepidermal water loss and the electrical capacitance were measured reflecting skin barrier function and skin hydration, respectively. The blood flow and the erythema index were measured reflecting inflammation. Water did not significantly influence transepidermal water loss, but caused a significant increase in skin blood flow, as evaluated by laser Doppler flowmetry. It is concluded that exposure to water 30 min daily for 2 weeks does not influence the barrier of previously subclinically irritated skin. It does, however, elicit an increase in skin blood flow.