my newest discovery: eczema caused by detergent

December 31, 2008 at 5:45 pm 57 comments

A big thanks to Eczema our family’s solution for this information.

My 2 year old has had eczema since birth. Bad eczema. The first time I took him to the allergy doctor a few months ago, the doctor said it was bad, not the worst he’s seen, but a very bad case. His skin is like leather, soaking up everything we’ve smeared on it, and we’ve tried many products. But it’s not just rough and lizardy looking, there are breakouts too, caused by certain foods.

The allergist told us to rub canola oil (we also used coconut oil and evening primrose oil) into his skin about 10 times a day. We did that, religiously. But the oil  just soaked right into his skin. We didn’t even have to really worry about him getting oil onto the furniture or the floor because the oil literally just disappeared into the skin. I also used cocoa butter–the kind that comes in the stick that you can get at the drugstore. This is only a fraction of the cost of shea butter which also worked really well. The cocoa butter stays on the surface of the skin and provides relief

The pediatrician told us to use cetaphil instead of baby soap on him and to switch laundry detergents–to try the free and clear ones and to try something like dreft.

Didn’t work. After baths, any breakouts on his skin would be even more inflamed than they were before the bath–as with any bath product that we tried.

Then I came across the solveeczema website a few days ago and it suggests a simple test to see if detergents could be the cause of eczema. I washed the patch of skin on Jackson’s back that is his worst spot (meaning it is always rashy). I used soap, real soap.  I bought some Dr. Bronner’s liquid castille soap. Then patted it dry with paper towels (not our family towels because those would be contaminated with laundry detergent) and then I coated it with aquaphor (a product containing vaseline and a few other things.) I also did this on one arm.  Well, about an hour later when I checked his back, his skin was smooth and the rash was almost gone.  My husband looked at it and said, “Wow.”

So then I did this same process on him head to toe before his nap.  When he got up, his skin was like I have NEVER seen it before. It was like normal skin. No more reptile skin. He still had some breakouts here and there, but overall  his skin was smooth and supple.

I didn’t cry but I got choked up inside and started shaking like I had the “butterflies.” Have you ever had that feeling?  This is a HUGE breakthrough in solving our son’s terrible itchy eczema problem.  A big answer to prayer.

That night he slept through until 7 in the morning. He never does that. He usually wakes up at least once in the night scratching himself…The next morning I let him run around in his diaper but then he found some clothes and got himself dressed. Within a half hour, his torso was all broken out, presumably from the laundry detergent in his shirt. We had gone bounce free a couple weeks before, so hopefully the fabric softener residues were already gone.  The detergent was at least one of the things that caused his eczema.

I spent Christmas Eve washing his clothes in some grated castille soap. Fortunately because he’s only 2, all of his clothing fit into one washload. I added a sheet and a towel too. I just kept washing it and washing it, in hopes of removing all the detergent. First I did several vinegar rinses and then I did a few soap washes, then just kept running loads of plain water.

Sodium lauryl sulfate. Sodium laureth sulfate. These are just two of the common detergents in virtually every single washing product in our house and at the grocery store.   I’m thinking it will take 3-6 months to completely eliminate detergents and all traces of detergent from our home.

Going detergent free won’t be easy. This isn’t a green issue, an eco-friendly or a hypoallergenic issue. This isn’t going with mild detergents or soaps. This is going NO detergent at all and switching to soap which with the exception of Ivory bar soap can’t be found in stores. I ordered  soap powder so I can make my own laundry detergent. Until it comes, I’ve been grating Ivory soap and combining it with Arm and Hammer washing soda and Borax. This has been working well. (what works in my water may not work in your water) The recipe I used is for every part of soap, add half as much soda and Borax.  Here is a webpage with 10 homemade laundry soaps or detergents. Not all of these are detergent free.

Products we use that contain detergents that we’ll have to find alternatives for:

  • toothpaste
  • liquid hand soap
  • dishwasher detergent
  • dish soap for handwashing dishes
  • laundry detergent
  • shampoo
  • body wash
  • the cleaner in my hoover steam vac

I ordered the sample pack from Cal Ben Soap company which contains shampoo, bar soap, laundry soap, and dish soap.  I can’t wait for it to appear on my doorstep so we can start using it.

I made quick and easy homemade soap for the dishwasher by using 1 Tablespoon each of borax and washing soda.  I’ve done 5 loads and so far it works just as well as my former detergents. The dishes are clean and shiny and there are no spots on the silverware or glasses.   And I don’t pre-wash my dishesl; I  just scrape the food off. This is much cheaper than regular dish soap so that’s a bonus.  After doing a few loads with that combination, I mixed some up in a salad dressing cruet so I won’t have to measure and it will be easy to pour into the dishwasher.

EDITED to add:  this does not work for our dishwasher. First spots came, then a film that seemed to get worse with each load. I’m currently using biokleen automatic dish powder which is working well.  There are minor water spots on the glasses, but no film.  I bought the biokleen at Kroger for $9.99 and it does 64 loads. I also have ordered Cal Ben’s dishwasher destain.

Again, let me say that I am so very thankful for the hard work that the family at solve eczema has done in sharing the information they discovered about the link between detergents and eczema. This isn’t just about switching laundry or bath products to a different brand. It’s about eliminating ALL detergents. Its about making a distinction between soap and detergent and choosing and using only soap products to eliminate eczema.

This all has to do with skin membrane permeability which I’ll write about in another blog post.

What has been your experience with eczema, allergies or detergents?


Entry filed under: allergies, eczema. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

moist and light banana muffins free of many allergens 4th grader asks, “doesn’t the government know there’s no lead in books?

57 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kathy  |  January 1, 2009 at 10:17 am

    I’ve not had a problem with eczema, nor really much with allergies… except my younger son got bumps on his back when I first switched to home-made laundry soap (one of the 10 you linked to). When I switched his clothes back to the store-bought detergent, it immediately got better and within a few days resolved completely. A few weeks later, I started washing his clothes in the home-made stuff again, and he seemed to do fine. Occasionally, it will flare up again, so I know there must be something more going on than just the type of laundry soap/detergent I use, but it happens so rarely, I don’t know what it might be. It’s also very mild — no color to the bumps and it doesn’t seem to cause him any discomfort whatsoever.

  • 2. Bobbi  |  January 1, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    Wow! No one in my family suffers from eczema, but just the implications from your hard work make me wonder about other “toxic” items are in our home. I have already been using a homemade laundry detergent since the beginning of summer – mainly because it was more cost effective. Now I’m thinking about switching other products to homemade or herbal.

    Thanks for the info – this will help many people with their problem!

  • 3. guinever  |  January 1, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    Bobbi, do you heat up a liquid concoction and if so, how does that work for you? I’ve been considering making a liquid laundry soap but I’ve only been doing this a week so I’ve taken the easy way in just measuring out my powders (and grating a bar of ivory.)

  • 4. Rebekah  |  January 2, 2009 at 8:20 am

    I use Charlie’s Soap to wash all our clothes now as it’s what I use for our cloth diapers. I looked on their website but couldn’t figure out if they use the additives that seem to be causing Jackson’s rash. It is detergent and not soap though.

  • 5. Bobbi  |  January 2, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Here’s how I do my laundry detergent:


    -1 bar of soap (whatever kind you like, but since Ivory is working on your son, I’d use that)
    – 1 cup washing soda (look for it in the laundry detergent aisle – it comes in an Arm & Hammer box and will contain enough for six batches of this stuff)
    – ½ cup of borax (one box of borax will contain more than enough for tons of batches of this homemade detergent)
    -5 gallon bucket or something similar to mix in
    -a bucket to store your detergent (I recycled an old laundry detergent bucket)

    Step One: Put about four cups of water into a pan on your stove and turn the heat up on high until it’s almost boiling. While you’re waiting, whip out a knife and start shaving strips off of the bar of soap into the water, whittling it down. Keep the heat below a boil and keep shaving the soap. Eventually, you’ll shave up the whole bar, then stir the hot water until the soap is dissolved and you have some highly soapy water.

    Step Two: Put three gallons of hot tap water into the five gallon bucket. Then mix in the hot soapy water from step one, stir it for a while, then add a cup of the washing soda. Keep stirring it for another minute or two, then add a half cup of borax. Stir for another couple of minutes and pour into storage bucket. Let the stuff sit overnight to cool.

    And you’re done. When you wake up in the morning, you’ll have a bucket of gelatinous slime (the kids will love this!). One measuring cup full of this slime will be roughly what you need to do a load of laundry – and the ingredients are basically the same as laundry detergent. Thus, out of three gallons, you’ll get about 48 loads of laundry. If you do this six times, you’ll have used six bars of soap ($0.99 each), one box of washing soda ($2.49 at our store), and about half a box of borax ($2.49 at our store, so $1.25) and make 288 loads of laundry. This comes up to a cost of right around three cents a gallon, or a savings of $70.

    • 6. Shula  |  April 4, 2012 at 11:43 pm

      I have ordered the soap flakes mentioned in the blog post! I can’t wait to use them. How much do I use, though, by volume? Is it enough to eyeball it, so that the flakes are about the same size as a heap of shavings from a bar of Ivory?

      Our little guy (16 months) has suffered so much with eczema. I am desperate to get control of this situation. I know that feeling of the lump in the throat so well…

  • 7. Stephanie  |  January 2, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    Guinever, thanks for all this information. I don’t like making the cooked laundry soap, but I love using the powdered kind. I chop the bar of soap into about six chunks and whir it with the soda and borax in my food processor. Now I’m dying to try the dishwasher stuff. I’ve been wanting to find an alternative to store stuff. I can’t wait to see what other stuff you come up with so I can try!

  • 8. Karen Joy  |  January 2, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    I went through this same thing about 6 years ago with my son Wesley. I did the vinegar rinses and everything. Making your own cleaners will certainly help, and probably solve his detergent-related eczema. I promise I am NOT a salesperson, but I quickly discovered that Melaleuca products do not cause a problem at all. Well, scratch that. Their fabric softener did. I use their laundry detergent, their non-chlorine bleach/brightener, and their spot remover (as necessary), and my extremely sensitive kids have not had a problem with it at all. My two little girls (ages 2.5 and 2 months) have extremely sensitive skin, too, and we have no problems w/ Melaleuca. I don’t know if it has sulfates, but it is phosphate-free, biodegradable, and pH neutral. And it works great.

    • 9. Daphne  |  June 13, 2009 at 1:17 am

      Karen, Mela products do not have sulfates. I use them too, but am considering going with all homemade cleaning products as in these hard economic times, it is becoming harder to afford Mela…no matter how much I love their products!

  • 10. Blayne  |  January 3, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    This is so fantastic!!! I am going to try the dishwasher recipe – I am creeped out by the smell of dishwasher detergent – you have inspired me!

  • 11. Tiffany  |  January 8, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    I am so glad that you have found a solution for Jackson. I can’t imagine how much better he must feel (and you, too).

  • 12. Mary Ann  |  January 13, 2009 at 6:35 am

    My 20 yr old nephew has suffered with eczema all his life. While home from college I told him to wash his clothes in HOT water and vinegar. I found a maker of bar soap in Canada and ordered PURE olive oil soap (he was using Dove for sensitive skin..HA check the ingredients) He also eliminated all body lotions. Instead he spreads pure olive oil on still wet skin after a shower. Leaves a fine film thats not oily or smelly. He also switched from prescription ointment to Triple Paste and treated areas where his skin was bleeding from scratching. The only dietetic change he made was to take cod liver oil capsules each day. After a week his skin started to heal and soften. He passed the cold weather test without a hitch and was able to wear a WOOL jacket his Mom gave him WITHOUT A PROBLEM!! He said Aunt Mar this was the best Christmas present anyone could have ever given to me. I thanked God. And now my goal is to share this info with others who suffer. Do your research on “opitcal brighteners” an ingredient found even in the “free and clear” laundry detergents. You will be shocked at what we are using to clean clothes.

  • 13. Pam in SE MI (TOG loose threads)  |  January 16, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    Guinever, I have meant to comment on this for awhile, just to say how thankful I am with you for this discovery!! You are such a good mom, to keep searching and trying until you found the answers to your ds’s problem. I find this all very fascinating, especially the cost savings aspect. Our youngest did have eczema quite badly as an infant and toddler, and we put lots of stuff on it at that time, but it seems to have gone away pretty much on its own. Thankfully!

  • 14. RebeccaT (TOG Loose Threads)  |  February 5, 2009 at 12:06 am

    Our 3-yr-old son has had eczema since birth. There is one spot on his right ankle that never goes away. Right now it looks really bad. We are using an eczema cream found in the baby aisle (it has Pooh and Piglet on it)right now to treat it. It is not making a big difference. We have used hydrocortisone in the past, but that did not clear it up and the thought of it being a steroid is not music to my ears. I was glad to find your post tonight. Maybe there is something that I can do to help him after all.

  • […] This last thing is not a product to use, but rather products to avoid.  We don’t use any lotions, “normal” soaps that contain SLS, or body washes  because of the drying, stinging ingredients they contain (even natural, herbal, supposed to be for eczema lotions.)  We don’t use any products with detergents in them. More about that in this post. […]

  • 16. Beat Eczema  |  May 19, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Thanks for this informative post . I think many people were looking a post like this one .

  • 17. Jenn  |  January 22, 2010 at 6:18 am

    I was reading your other blog about wet wrapping and wondered if the detergent-free method lost its initial healing power. I have a 3 year old son who has severe eczema. He gets up every 2 hours scratching and starts crying at the top of his lungs. Every night we find a naked boy laying on the floor scratching himself to pieces. It is heart-wrenching. We have been unable to find the trigger but I came across the same website you did about the detergents (which is what led me here) and really want to know if this has any long-term improvements. We have done the corticosteroids, the wet-wraps (which worked for several months for us but alas, like everything else, it lost its oomph–probably did not help that he would often strip those off as well), extra baths, less baths, aquaphor, several eczema lotions, dairy-free diet, changed his detergent to Dreft, and the list goes on. I am here because nothing has made any long-term impact. Some work for a while like wet-wraps and aquaphor but not for long and the eczema always comes back with a vengeance. I feel as if I am using my son as a guinea pig at times as we try to figure out how to heal his poor little body. His 3-year old skin looks like it has been around from prehistoric times. So, I just want to know if the detergent really had an impact (long-term) or if it was just another thing that worked initially and then you had to move onto wet wraps as another method? I know your plight and I hope that we all find something that will work for our little ones who suffer so much.

    • 18. guinever  |  January 26, 2010 at 11:14 am

      Dear Jenn,
      I feel your pain! I am so sorry that you and your son are going through this. I know exactly what it is like to have a constantly itchy boy who scratches himself raw and who gets up in the night several times.

      I am still making my own laundry soap and avoiding detergent. My son is definitely bothered by SLS and detergent, but that’s not his only problem. I suspect that he responded so well to it because it was in December and there weren’t any environmental allergens for him to react to. His skin was greatly improved just by going off detergent for Dec, Jan and February. His skin got really bad again in March and I suspect it’s because of the trees starting to bud and the ground starting to thaw and the mold coming out. (he’s allergic to oak tree, ash tree and a few others and several molds.)

      Have you done food testing? My son is allergic to many foods and he gets rashes and his skin gets worse if he has the wrong food. Right now, his skin looks pretty good. knock on wood! I am doing the wet wrapping every night (bath for 15 minutes, slather on triamcinolone .1%, cover his limbs with a wet sock, then a dry sock.) He has them on for about an hour before bed every night when I take them off. I use aquaphor on his face and torso.

      I really hope you are able to find your son’s trigger (s) and that he can find some relief. Let me know how it goes. If you find out he is allergic to tons of foods, come back here and I can help you!! You are not alone in this.

      • 19.  |  July 10, 2015 at 4:20 pm

        Steroid creams will only cause more eczema. This includes Protopic and Elocon cream that are steroid free. Go to ITSAN to find out more about topical steroids.

    • 20.  |  July 10, 2015 at 4:16 pm

      Please go to ITSAN (international topical steroid awareness network). I have eczema and this answered a lot of my questions.

  • 21. Cheryl  |  February 18, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    I believe Triamcinolone cream is a steroid also. My mom gave me some which worked fabulously, but then I checked into it. Also, one soap recipe calls for grating Fels Naptha bars…they are toxic!!!
    Best approach is to try to improve the immune system when you have lots of allergies like I do, as they get worse with age.

    • 22. guinever  |  February 20, 2010 at 11:42 am

      Yes, triamcinolone is a steroid cream.

      • 23. Courtney  |  October 26, 2012 at 2:38 pm

        I am an Herbalife distributor, I came across the products because I too have horrible allergies and eczema but now it is amazing using their shakes, skin care and immune boosters. I have lost weight, I am having regular menstural cycles and no more eczema… can write me at It was the best $68 I ever spent to sign up for my distributorship and it is helping so many that I know! Good luck ladies, this is a tough problem (eczema/allergies) that seem to only be getting worse around the globe.
        **Herbalife Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. However when the body is getting complete nutrition at the cellular level amazing results can occur!!

  • 24. Rachel  |  March 16, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    I came across this looking for reasons why, at almost 40 and having no history of allergies, I would suddenly develop what I believe to be discoid eczema on my legs. However, my son has had some go rounds with minor skin rashes, so your insight is helpful. A few comments –

    you don’t need liquid hand soap. Use the Dr. Bronners liquid version and put it in a pump bottle, or bars of castile. Supposedly you can use the Dr. Bronner’s for shampoo and body wash too. Or Earth’s best baby washes. Also, Kirks Castile makes shampoo, I think you can get it online.

    Powersmile by Jason is a good, SLS free toothpaste. In health stores and online.

  • 25. lathermaker  |  April 17, 2010 at 1:44 am

    I have eczema and roseacea. I avoid detergents whenever possible. Make and use REAL handmade soap, NOT those so-called “glycerin” soaps that actually contain alcohols and who-knows-what to make them melt time after time….
    Another thing that is a trigger for me is colorant and some artificial fragrances.

    I make my own Laundry soap, the dry type, and use plain white vinegar as a rinse/softener.

    When my skin is very dry and itchy, after taking a tepid shower, I slather it with coconut oil or jojoba or Emu oil if I have some on hand. The idea is to go as simply as you can.
    Or, if I have the time I’ll take an old sock and fill it full of regular oatmeal & seal up the end. As the water runs, squish the sock under the tap releasing the oat milk into the water. Just soaking in the water lets the oatmeal help soothe my skin. Very simple, but effective.

    • 26. Jenn L Heaton  |  August 4, 2011 at 11:32 am

      Would the clear aloe gel help with this as well? I’m looking for any answers to help with excema, its on the inside of my hands. Its worse in the high humidy summers of florida. I use my hands a lot for arts and crafts, crochet…dishes…and I still have not found sonme kind of dish soap that is safe for my hands or for washing my hair without the stinging. I’m going to hunt down this stuff from gwen and see how it works. Dr. Bronners right? ^_^ Thanks for the site full of info!

  • 27. hudsonmama  |  August 19, 2010 at 2:23 am

    Has anyone tried Cal Ben laundry soap for cloth diapering? I have hard water, a front loader, and pocket diapers and have been having trouble getting mine clean. I have two boys in diapers, so this is major! We used to do prefolds, which I didn’t seem to have as much issue with, but not sure if that is it. I like Cal Ben soap for some other stuff, so just wondering about the laundry and, especially, about cloth diapering.

  • 28. deborah wellman  |  October 30, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    just a note about my dealing with my sons allergy and eczema.
    My son samuel had eczema when very young.
    My sister in law pointed out to me the madeira and moth vines that are considered an obnoxious pest here in australia, and cause allergies/.
    After my Father sprayed out my garden and pulled the vines samuel had no eczema until he went to a school near rhye grass farms.
    One thing is you must always use a top loader, never a front loader washing machine, When rinsing put in a good splash of vinegar. use only baby oil to clean up messy nappy area.
    My son was bitten by spiders, white tip at 3 yrs and after that his allergies came back, and he would swell terrribly, ears, etc we were up at hospital every week. ,the biochemical cell salt “Nat Mur” is what I discovered helped my son I am a great believer in natural remedy and every day Sam has a evening primrose capsule, fislh oil, and vitamin E and lecithin. Nat Mur is actually for coughs etc, you can eat a whole bottle and not overdoes on these.We moved away from where there was a lot of Australian bush and if Sam stays at my parents farm he has to have a dose of phenergan….Truly Sam was on Penecillan 2 yrs ago and it was only when I thought to give him the nat mur that he got well.Sam has no sign of eczema for tww yrs now.vitamin A is a great healer also and I believe has helped with his healing.not beta carotene, but Retinyl palmitate (5000IU), When Sam was very bad I would give him at least three capsules at a time,. My children only have this when they are getting ill, and then at least 3/4v capsules a day for several days. we do not have it every day for your body can store up this….It is a wonder vitamin my son has not had antibiotics for yrs. Deborah AUSTRALIA

    Thanks for sharing your story! I hope your son continues to experience relief from his eczema. ~blessings, Guinever

  • 29. Jennifer Roberge  |  July 13, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Have you tried soapnuts? They are natural and easy to use. We love them. Sometimes we add some tea tree oil to help disinfect our kids clothes. After the nuts can no longer be used in the wash you can boil them down and create a liquid soap to use as a household cleaner. Very economical and earth conscious.

  • 30. Allisonw  |  February 18, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    Just now finding your post. Do you still have a detergent-free home? How is the eczema? I have a four-month old with severe eczema and I’m starting the detergent-free route. I noticed this post is from several years back, so I was just wondering how your son is doing now. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

    • 31. ballet you say  |  February 18, 2012 at 10:28 pm

      Yes, we still have a detergent free home. We use 365 brand shampoo and conditioner (Whole Foods brand). It’s inexpensive and makes your hair like silk…I’m currently not making my own laundry soap anymore because we have a high efficiency one need so very little soap now that it doesn’t seem so expensive to buy biokleen when we use so little. I use that brand liquid dish soap as well. My son is 5 and so much better! His food allergies are under control and we’ve actually been able to introduce 3 foods back into his diet that previously gave him hives. I use aquaphor on his skin after almost every bath. I notice a difference when we don’t use it. I hope you find something that works for your little guy. I feel your pain!

  • 32. Jackie  |  March 2, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    Hi – I am 37 yrs old and ezcema showed up on my skin about 4 years a go. I believe some of it was due to detergents – I believe Oxi clean contributed to other health issues as well. I have been using the free detergents now for a few years and for the last few months have been using the homeade version (borax/washing soda/castile soap.) I have put a water filter in my shower. I have used Cetaphil every day and also use only castile soap to bathe with. Tea tree oil in natural dishwashing soap caused an outbreak on my hands (b/c it’s gone on my hands now that I stopped with that.) I have an outbreak of eczema so bad on the back of both legs that I have difficult time sitting or falling asleep due to the severe itching or burning after I have scratched too much. Has anyone found that borax actually irritates the eczema more? Or does anyone have any new ideas for me to try besides steroid treatments?

    • 33. ballet you say  |  March 2, 2012 at 11:54 pm

      What about fabric softeners: have you eliminated those too–both liquid in the washing machine and/or dryer sheets? Doing a final vinegar rinse in your wash cycle can help remove any lingering soap residue. I’m so sorry for the extreme discomfort that you are experiencing. Have you tried aquaphor? What I have found works the best is applying it immediately after bathing because it creates a barrier on the skin so no irritants can get in. ~Guinever

      • 34. sajna10  |  August 4, 2015 at 11:16 am

        Hi Guinever,

        I found your blogpost while going through the solve eczema website. I feel overwhelmed by all the information out there about baby eczema.
        My son is 6 months old and has eczema since he was a month old. He is so itchy. It breaks my heart to see him scratch all over. I would like to go detergent free and see if that helps. I know you might end up repeating yourself and I apologize for that. I’m not sure where to begin. Shall I wash and re wash all our clothes in water and vinegar? I saw that you use biokleen; which biokleen product do you use? I saw a bunch of them on Amazon.
        I would appreciate any advice you might have on how to start this process. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    • 35. lindy  |  February 24, 2015 at 1:50 am

      HI Jackie,
      If your still looking for a solution I can help brainstorm. I help families detox and cleanse body and home. It helps clear up many skin issues.

      • 36. Jackie  |  March 10, 2017 at 11:07 am

        For me, the solution ended up being going off gluten and then dairy. I have DH – dermatitis herpetiformus – a form of Celiac Disease. I had to self diagnose because the skin dr. kept prescribing me steroids and saying it was eczema. At my worst I couldn’t put anything on my skin; I was in great agony. It took 2 full years for my hives/red skin to completely go away. If I eat dairy I get a hive now. If I ingest gluten accidentally I am violently sick, but no skin issue. I have been gluten free for 5 years now. When I wrote my original post I was desperately searching for an answer like you all are. Unfortunately changing my soaps and detergents didn’t fix my problem; I had tried everything. So, I do suggest you look at what the person is ingesting who has eczema. It changed my life.

  • 37. Meri  |  March 14, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    As a child I had severe eczema on both arms, wrist to elbow, presumably from dish detergent. Who knows what was in it, I now use Dawn with no problems. At the time, prescription cortizone was the only thing that would clear the eczema. About shampoo, did you know that formaldehyde has been used as an ingredient? Talk about a bad hair (and scalp) day! I also think the formaldehyde contributed to my hair loss. Dr. Bonner’s castile soap is wonderful for shampoo, I make my own using it as a base. I for one like CalBen’s pure soap. I shot them an email requesting a list of ingredients, they responded, wish I could find that email. Anyway the ingredients do not have negative impact and my skin feels nice. Good thing too, my house’s former owner left a case behind, lol. ~ Meri

  • 38. Meri  |  March 14, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Jackie, I had shingles a few years ago and this seemed to help the itch……Baking soda, aloe vera gel, few drops each of calendula and thuja (anti viral- optional) and two drops tea tree oil. I made a paste and slathered it on the blisters. Stopped the itch in a hour or so. Good luck, Meri

    • 39. Jackie  |  April 10, 2013 at 11:49 am

      Ok, so I forgot I left that post until you responded to me. june 18 of 2012 I discovered that my ezcema on my legs could be Dermetitus Herpetiformis – which is one Celiac Disease shows up. The next morning I went Gluten Free as best as I knew how at the time. For the first time in YEARS I did not itch when I went to bed. I should have gotten tested before going gf, but the results were so instantaneous I could not go back. After reading up on CD, I can see all the health issues (which did not seem like a big deal on their own) were related to CD, intestinal issues esp when pregnant, and much more I will not go into detail on. My grandma died in her 80’s with malabsorption – she could hardly eat any foods at the end of her life. So, it is hereditary but never looked into for her. I still itch from time to time – I can tell when I accid. get “glutened.” My skin is still not healed all the way b/c of getting glutened accid. But that insatiable itch coming from inside my skin is gone. I can actually sit without itching unbearably now. My allergies have improved – last week I spent a lot of time by the camp fire without sneezing. I believe when I was using Oxi-clean my system went into overload b/c it already couldn’t handle the gluten. I am back to using All without dyes or perfumes and my skin can handle it. 10% of people with CD get DH. I am so thankful that my Jesus answered my desperate prayers with such a clear answer. Eating no gluten has been hard, but scratching till I bled every day was horrible.

  • 40. Samma  |  September 8, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    I know this post was posted years ago, but im hoping this helps…i buy kirks all natrual from publix it came in a 3 pack, with 1 bar I grated it put it in a bowl with enough water to cover the soap and leave it over night the next morning take a wisk and you get a nice creamy body wash/ slash hand soap…if you want it as a dish soap add a little washing soada to it..the other bars I used for a all natrual laundry soap

  • 41. Mari  |  September 13, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    Thank you! My daughter has benn struggling with eczema for 6 yrs now. I saw your blog and decided to get rid of deturgets. She is now eczema free!!! And I mean it’s GONE! What a relief! We had used Melaluca which did not break her out as much but didn’t completely get rid of it. We now use Dr. Bronners 1/4 c in the laundry and in the bath. Now trying to figure out a shampoo option. She will break out if I use shampoo. Dr Bronners works but leaves her hair so tangly. Thanks again for posting this!

  • 42. Lianne Meachem Burleson  |  November 7, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    I have suffered with excema and allergies all my life. But the last 3 years have been the worst. I have noticed my skin gets worse after I do laundry and am wondering if you have found a less complicated way to make or even purchase detergent that works for your son? I come home from work (as an electrician) and feel like my entire body has been chafed and look like I have a sunburn with welts everywhere! I desperately need help. The docs don’t seem to have a clue!

    • 43. Response blogger  |  June 2, 2015 at 1:39 am

      Chexk ingredients in all laundry soaps for methylisothiazolinone

  • 44. Mari  |  April 9, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    Wanted tomThank you! Read your post a year ago and we did away with detergents. My daughter is completely free of eczema! Now and then she come in contact at someone else’s home and will flare up. This post saved her from being miserable! Don’t know why doctors don’t get with the “detergent free” program!

  • 45. Elise  |  June 11, 2013 at 12:21 am

    We were told my daughter’s eczema is a result of her allergies (mainly eggs), but it’s SO SO bad right now (still) that I’m thinking maybe we should try this. It breaks my heart seeing how miserable it makes her. She wakes up at least 4 times a night itching and whining/crying because of it

  • 46. Hal Smith  |  August 13, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    Good story. The one and only thing that works on my eczema is 10% sulfur soap. The next day the red rash is gone, although the impetego (crusty, dry skin) is still there. Moiterizers make it swell.

    I am still looking for an answer though.

    • 47. Jackie  |  February 7, 2014 at 11:32 pm

      I believe my “eczema” is actually caused by gluten. A thing called dh or dermititus herpetiformes/ celiac. My itching got progressively worse… I have been gluten free for almost 2 years. My skin is still healing but the insatiable burning itching is gone. My seasonal allergies have subsided…my intestinal health is normal now. I had eczema as a kid. My skin dr still thinks it is eczema. I know differently. Unwilling to eat gluten again just to get tested. For me changing soaps only helped a little. My immune system was overloaded by gluten and it came out thru skin. Wanted to share in case it helps

  • […] baby, the baby comes into contact with these residues and suffers an allergic reaction. Do read how this mother conquered her two-year-old’s eczema by eliminating detergent from their home. For safety’s sake, I repeat my disclaimer – […]

  • 49. Chantelle  |  July 20, 2014 at 10:57 am

    Thanks for your extensive research into this horrible condition. My son had eczema pretty bad but we now have it under control. It took a long time but after much prayer and trial and error we found detergents, cleaning products and soaps that have allowed his skin to be soft again.

    If anyone needs info on what I use that has helped a lot, feel free to ask me.

  • 50. JAC  |  July 24, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    Please take my advise. If you have a front loading washing machine, get rid of it. It does not use enough water to wash/rinse out all soap residue. This is what is causing a lot of problems with rashes on people. Test this out, you won’t be sorry. I suffered with rashes for six years and went to every Doc. imaginable.

  • 51. dsbsnag  |  February 19, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    how is he doing now? We are just learning about the detergent reaction and are praying that’s the relief for our 4 year old. She’s already GF/CF and DF (as well as avoiding her known allergic foods)

  • 52. Response blogger  |  June 2, 2015 at 1:37 am

    have you had your child checked fir cobtact allergy to Methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone?

  • 53. Dana Todd  |  June 2, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Eczema is too often applied as a label by doctors, with little explanation of what triggers may actually be causing the flare ups. And frequently docs overlook one particular allergy that is now becoming a global epidemic. A biocide preservative called Methylisothiazolinone (MI) was voted Contact Allergen of the Year in 2013, but despite this concern there are now thousands of products containing it (and growing). The symptoms are identical to eczema (blistering, cracking skin, neurological symptoms) and can last for overreact a month after a single exposure. It can be patch tested to eliminate as a cause, and should also include Methylchlorisothiazolinone and Benzisothiazolinone. Most T.R.U.E tests have MI/MCI mix.

    There are only a small number of detergents in the U.S. that don’t have MI, and it’s also found in most shampoos, dish liquids, fabric softener, house paint, adhesive, shower gel, baby wipes, hand soap, air freshener, counter cleansers, etc. Frustratingly, it’s very likely to be found in products labeled “green” and “hypoallergenic” and “sensitive” because it’s the most popular replacement for parabens.

    There is a Facebook page set up to showcase pictures and treatments, products to avoid etc. just search “allergy to Methylisothiazolinone”.

  • 54. essentialoilsforbabyandme  |  November 13, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    I found many months ago after a year and a half of watching my baby boy suffer….the doctors all said the same thing. More steroids, he’ll outgrow it, benadryl, you.can’t find a cause or a cure…..I still get choked up.thinking about how thankful I am to have found that website late one night. I remember sitting up at one am googling, thinking.there had to be a cure! I just want to share with everyone who has to watch their baby suffer! So glad you found it!

    Ps. I’m homeschooling too, let’s be friends!! 🙂

  • 55. Allison  |  February 3, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    My eczema went away after i started using an EcoWasher. It doesn’t use detergent to clean cloths so I eliminated my eczema problem.

  • 56. ana scoggins  |  June 19, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    I use magnets gor laundry…Check out on Amazon. It is famtastic!
    No detergent at all…Around $60.00 but it s life time warranty.
    No more skin problem or allergies in my house!

  • 57. Jenny  |  June 26, 2016 at 11:42 pm

    I have got very bad rashes on my face and acne bumps on my bCk and large open pores on my face after using Extra laundry detergent. Stay away that stuff is bad news


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Welcome to my personal blog about my life as a wife and homeschooling mother of a few energetic children! You'll find my favorite recipes, all kinds of reviews, the occasional rant, and whatever else I feel like writing about.

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