Allergies, Eczema & Chemicals…
Over the years, many people have asked me what we have done to help Benjamin with his eczema.
They had seen the dramatic improvements and were keen to know how we helped him.
In truth, it was not one single change, but many together, that helped him heal.
In this post, I talk about some of the changes we made to reduce our exposure to chemicals, in order to reduce skin irritation for him.
Our skin is the largest organ in our body and it absorbs so much of what we put on it.
It made total sense to examine what his skin was exposed to every day.
One of the first things I looked at was exposure to chemicals that we had in the house.
I initially didn’t think that we had many chemicals in the house, and if we did, they were ‘safe’ ones…surely they’d have been tested to be safe.
I was also unsure that changing anything would really make a difference. But I had to try.
On closer inspection, we DID have chemicals in the house, and potentially these were an issue for Benjamin – and for us.
So. Many. Ingredients.
Many NOT tested on humans in clinical trials…
However, tested on all of us, in real life!
I cleaned the toilets with bleach, used standard supermarket washing powders, clothes softeners, and the ‘eco-friendly’ cleaning chemicals.
However, the cleaning chemicals I had, even the ‘natural’ ones, had labelling advising to avoid inhaling the fumes and to use them in a well-ventilated space.
I felt brainwashed that I had ever thought these were necessary to clean our house with and safe to use (as long as the window was open, right?!)
Research has discovered that many of these chemicals can accumulate in our bodies and are stored in our adipose tissues (fat)… some of these chemicals have even been detected in the breastmilk of new mothers!!
GREAT! So, was my son was ‘eating’ these chemicals too?!!
And what other chemicals were we exposing him and ourselves to?
Handsoap, perfumes, skin care products, make up, moisturisers, room sprays, deoderants… shampoos, conditioners, the list goes on!
Have you ever read and tried to understand what’s on the label on one of these bottles?
Not all ingredients in perfumes and skin care products are labelled.
Some common ingredients such as formaldehydes and acetaldehydes have been shown to be likely carcinogenic in animals, and these may be left off the label as they may be part of a ‘trade secret’ or simply an ‘excipient’.
An excipient is an ingredient that is not therapeutically active or contribute to the action of the product.
Many of the cleaning products that I had, didn’t have this full list of ingredients.
I couldn’t even check if what was in it was safe.
Washing powders with synthetic fragrances…. ‘fabric softener’ just full of toxic chemicals!
I began to realise that we were washing our clothes with these chemicals which remained in the fibres of the clothes (think of the ‘fragrance’ of freshly washed clothes)……
Which then exposed us to these chemicals TWENTY-FOUR HOURS A DAY – on our clothes, our bedsheets, pillows and pyjamas, and then into our clothes the next day again.We were exposed to these chemicals every single minute – touching our skin as well as breathing them in all the time.
I had never even considered this and the effect it may have been having on our health.
A common ingredient in handsoaps and shampoos is sodium laureth sulfate, which is a known skin irritant.
Apparently okay to be used in small amounts. But…how often do you wash your hands?
How often do you wash your hair?
Exposure to this ingredient may be more than you think, particularly if it accummulates in our body for a while before it is cleared out….
Reed diffusers, ‘air fresheners’, perfumes, washing powders and fabric softeners typically contain synthetic fragrances.
Perfumes contain a whole host of ingredients that aren’t listed (due to ‘trade secret formulas), and many of these such as acetaldehydes, formaldehydes, phthalates have been associated with cancer in animals.
(Yet to be tested in humans in a clinical trial…however used in many products that we use every day!!)
The very first product I looked at was the moisturiser that I was putting on Benjamin from head to toe, 4 times a day.
This was recommended by the doctors and dermatologist but was petroleum based.
Plus, had a long list of ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce…..
I did a quick search on the Environmental Working Group (EWG.org) website database, a group dedicated to reporting on the safety of the ingredients in everyday products.
This database search informed me that many of these these ingredients were known skin irritants – yes, you read that right, skin irritants in a moisturise recommended for soothing eczema, no less!
I worried about these ingredients being absorbed into my little boy’s body….
Benjamin’s eczema improved when I started making my own moisturiser and washing powder (super easy and inexpensive!), cutting out the ‘softener’ and replacing it with vinegar and some essential oils, getting rid of the toxic cleaning products (even the ‘environmentally-friendly’ ones) and a few of the other things below….
Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS) is a common ingredient in soaps and shampoos and is a known skin irritant.