Posts tagged ‘eczema’

my newest discovery: eczema caused by detergent

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?


December 31, 2008 at 5:45 pm 57 comments

HELP! no wheat, no corn, no eggs allowed

I took 22 month old Jackson to the allergy doctor today. He has had eczema since birth and I have known all along that it was food related. Now that he is fully weaned, I have slowly been figuring out what foods inflame his skin. Tomatoes was easy. His mouth and hands turn red and bumpy while we’re still at the dinner table whenever we eat pizza, spaghetti, lasagna, ketchup, so I’ve been keeping him away from anything containing tomatoes for a couple of months now. I’ve substituted Ranch dressing for ketchup and spaghetti sauce and he has been happy with that. (I can’t do that anymore.)

He also has an immediate reaction to berries, watermelon and rhubarb. I have been unable to figure out what other foods trigger his eczema because he doesn’t react right away. When he was an infant, he would often awake in the middle of the night with terribly bumpy itchy skin. Fortunately, his skin doesn’t usually bother him enough to keep him up at night anymore.

I am so thankful that Jackson tolerated the allergy testing. It really was divine intervention. For those of you who know what food testing entails and who also know my little man, you’ll know that this activity would not be on Jackson’s to do list. Sitting still is not one of Jackson’s strong points. Maybe he was fascinated with what the nurse was doing to him. He just sat on my lap, relaxed, while one nurse held his arm down and the other nurse did 25 skin pricks. He didn’t cry or wince even once. Then he was supposed to keep his arm still for 15 minutes. He did start to wiggle a bit but then settled right back in. Then he had to get a few injections too and he did ok with those as well.

When I left the doctor’s office, I had an emotional meltdown. The thought of doing an elimination diet for one month overwhelmed me. The three biggies are wheat AND corn AND eggs. Avoiding corn products will be tricky because food companies put it in everything, but its seems very doable to me. I have already been trying to eliminate corn syrup from my family’s diet. Wheat doesn’t bother me too much either because there are a lot of other grains. But eggs? They’re in everything. I put them in everything. They are my favorite binder. How can you make pancakes without eggs? (I’ll figure it out.) Or cookies? I could go on and on. I cook eggs and english muffins 3-5 times a week for breakfast. No more for Jackson.

When I called my mom and started reading her the list of things to eliminate, she asked me what can he have. What is he going to eat? The simple answer is meat and vegetables. Of the current food that our family eats, that’s all he can have. Oh, he can have oatmeal and rice too. But everything else, I’m going to have to find alternatives for Jackson.

The game plan is to do an elimination diet for one month while concentrating on getting Jackson’s skin hydrated which involves slathering oil on him 6 times a day. The doc said to use canola oil, but that grosses me out and I’m going to find an alternative. Hopefully, during this time Jackson’s skin will get significantly better. Then we can re-introduce the foods one at a time to see if he has a skin reaction.

We didn’t test tomatoes and berries since we already know that those affect him, so the foods that he tested positive for are the following:

  • peaches (huge, big welt which doesn’t surprise me because of his berry and watermelon allergy)
  • wheat
  • corn
  • eggs
  • cinnamon –minor
  • vanilla –minor
  • not food, but he’s allergic to dust mites and “cockroach mix”

He even had a minor reaction to beef and potato. I was watching the nurse as she was checking Jackson’s skin pricks and writing down all the results. When I saw her put a plus sign next to beef, I said to her “Beef? He can’t have beef? He can’t have hamburgers?” I was also thinking about our weekly pot roast. But she said no, it wasn’t a strong enough reaction to worry about.

In addition to all these, the doctor also wants us to eliminate dairy, peanuts and soybean. See why my mom wondered what he’s going to eat next month?

So what on earth is he going to be eating? Meat and veggies mostly. I’ve already been keeping him away from most fruits. He tested negative for grapes which I’m thankful for. I’ve been letting him eat grapes because he didn’t seem to react, but I wasn’t positive about that so I’m glad that he can have at least one juicy fruit! He can have bananas too which I’m glad about since he loves them and has one almost every day. It’s not the season for citrus fruit, but he tested negative for citrus fruits. yeah.

The good news? He isn’t allergic to chocolate.

July 31, 2008 at 9:50 pm 11 comments


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