Chemicals in baby products increase allergies

Baby wipes linked to rise in skin problems

The Sydney Morning Herald
March 3, 2014
Bridie Smith Science Editor, The Age

Dermatologists are reporting increasing numbers of parents and carers presenting with skin problems linked to using disposable baby wipes.

In a research letter published in The Medical Journal of Australia on Monday, dermatologist Rosemary Nixon from the Skin and Cancer Foundation reports that an ingredient used to prevent bacterial infection in moist wipes is now the most common cause of dermatitis in patients sampled.

The preservative, methylisothiazolinone or MI, accounted for 11.3 per cent of skin reactions in 353 patients seen at two clinics last year, up on 8.4 per cent in 2012 and 3.5 per cent in 2011.

“We’re seeing an increasing number of allergic reactions,” she said. “It could be because the concentration might be too high because it’s been on the skin too long, or because the skin is damaged, allowing the chemical to get through the epidermal barrier.”

Professor Nixon said patch testing for the ingredient started in 2011, after similar reports surfaced in Europe. She said the trend was also occurring in the US where, like in Australia, the preservative has been used in a range of water-based products, including cosmetics and personal products such as deodorants, shampoos, conditioners, sunscreens and moisturisers since the early 2000s. Professor Nixon said she expected dermatitis caused by using wet wipes was probably under-diagnosed in adults, with many people putting the allergic reaction down to other factors because the red itchy rash appeared up to 48 hours after contact. In infants, an allergic reaction might be put down to nappy rash.

“I’m sure we only see the tip of the iceberg in our clinic; there’s probably a bit more out there than people realise,” she said.

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Home Made Shampoos for Itchy Scalps

Home Made Shampoos and Conditioners for Itchy ScalpsIn a recent post we gave you some recipes for soap-free skin cleansers you can make at home – ideal for Histamine Intolerant people with itchy skin. For those with itchy scalps, here are some recipes for soap-free home-made shampoo for itchy scalps. They’re simple to make, they really work and they won’t break the bank. In fact, they’re probably cheaper than most commercial shampoos! The shampoos are pH balanced and come courtesy of www.blog.kanelstrand.com.

If you’re already using a ‘natural’ shampoo, check the ingredients on the label. Commercial products often contain chemical additives that are far from natural and some, such as sodium lauryl sulfate, can actually be damaging.

A note on essential oils
Many people believe that because essential oils are natural plant extracts, they must be kind to the skin. The truth is, however, that essential oils vary in their characteristics and each person responds differently them.  The most common undesirable result is skin irritation.

David Fisher, whose knowledge of essential oils derives from candle and soap making, declares that toxicity in essential oils comes in two forms:

* Phototoxicity – these essential oils become toxic when exposed to direct sunlight. These oils are fine in candles, but shouldn’t be used in any sort of application where the essential oil will stay on your skin and be exposed to the sun. Using these oils in soap is o.k. because it is rinsed off, but using them in a balm or a lotion is not recommended because the essential oils stay on your skin.” Phototoxic essential oils include verbena oil and citrus oils such as lemon, lime, orange and mandarin.

* Toxicity – at certain levels, these essential oils will make you sick, or hurt you in some way – whether in the light or not. Several of them can be used safely in soap making and candle making, but you need to exercise caution and moderation, which usually means using them in low concentrations.”  Toxic essential oils include bay laurel, cedarwood (Virginian), cinnamon (leaf), clove (bud), eucalyptus, juniper and nutmeg.

Perfumes and fragrances can irritate the airways of HIT sufferers. Add to this the possibility of essential oils irritating sensitive skin, and you have two good reasons to avoid adding perfumes and essential oils to your home-made personal care products.

Home-Made Rye Flour Shampoo

This recipe is suitable for all types of hair. Note: The reason why rye flour is relatively mess-free is that it’s low in gluten. Do not experiment with other flours, especially those rich in gluten. It will be really difficult to remove them from your hair.

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 tbsp. rye flour (you can adjust the amount according to your hair length)
  • some lukewarm water – enough to make the mixture as thick as standard shampoo

Instructions:

  • Put the flour in a cup.
  • Add some water and mix thoroughly. Keep adding water and mixing.
  • Mix until there are no lumps left and the mixture is runny and resembles that of shampoo.

To use:

  • Wet your hair and put some of the shampoo on your fingers.
  • Massage thoroughly and gently into the scalp. The shampoo will cover the lengths of your hair when you start rinsing.
  • Rinse generously with lukewarm water until all shampoo is removed.

Home Made Coconut Milk and Aloe Vera Shampoo.

This recipe is suitable for dry, dandruff-prone hair and scalp. If you like, you can double or triple the quantities of ingredients, divide the shampoo between several containers and store it in the freezer for later use.

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 oz (75 ml) coconut milk
  • 3 oz (88 ml) Aloe Vera

Instructions:

  • Mix the coconut milk and the Aloe Vera well until there are no lumps left.

To use:

  • Apply on wet hair.and put some of the shampoo on your fingers.
  • Massage well into the scalp.
  • Let it remain for a couple of minutes.
  • Rinse generously with lukewarm water.

 

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How to make your own soap-free skin cleansers.

In the last post we discussed using soap-free cleansers to soothe itching skin. Here, as promised, are some recipes for soap-free skin cleansers you can make at home.

Soothing Skin Cleanser

Fragrant rosewater adds a luxurious touch to this gentle cleanser. Never use essential oils on your skin – despite being all-natural, they can cause phototoxicity and irritation. All perfumes can be irritants to people with HIT, even natural rose, so if you find it’s a problem for you, substitute distilled water or boiled and cooled water. Natural rosewater is, nonetheless, very beneficial to the skin.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup aloe vera gel
  • 2 tablespoons almond oil
  • 2 tablespoons rosewater
  • 1 tablespoon soapwort extract [1] (available from online stores, cosmetics stores and Amazon)
  • 5-10 drops coconut oil
  • 3-5 drops or 1 capsule vitamin E oil (optional)

Instructions:

  • Mix all ingredients together and store in container with tight fitting lid.
  • To use: wet face, apply in small circles and rub in for 30 seconds, wash off with warm water.
  • The water and oil may separate, so shake the container well before use.

*[1] Soapwort (Saponaria officinalis) is a useful and pretty plant, easily grown in the garden. You can buy it here.

Refreshing Skin Cleanser

This mixture cleans and refreshes your skin. It does not dry out the skin and it leaves no residue. The baking soda has a gentle exfoliant action and the aloe soothes and heals.

Ingredients for basic skin cleanser:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoon aloe vera gel
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable glycerin
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (to thicken)

Optional additives:

2 tablespoons witch hazel
2 tablespoons raw honey
1 tsp calendula extract
1 teaspoon chamomile extract
1 teaspoon green tea extract
1 teaspoon ginger extract
15 drops coconut oil
15 drops almond oil

Instructions:

  • Mix together your chosen ingredients.
  • To thicken use 1/2 tsp xanthan gum whizzed in with a blender.
  • When all is well-blended, pour the mixture into a clean bottle and seal with an airtight lid.
  • Label the bottle.
  • Store in refrigerator to prolong shelf life.
  • To use, simply rub it over your skin, then rinse off with warm water and pat dry with a soft towel.

Exfoliant Skin Cleanser

This skin-care recipe uses Fuller’s Earth, which is available from cosmetic stores online. Amazon also sells it – see our shop on this website.
Fuller’s Earth is an amazingly useful substance.  Scroll down to find out more about it! If you cannot find Fuller’s Earth, you can substitute Kaolin Clay, French Green Clay or Rhassoul Clay.

Ingredients:

  • 3 parts wheat bran
  • 1 part ground rice
  • 1 part ground oats
  • 1 part dried lemon peel
  • 1 part organic cane sugar
  • 1 part Fuller’s Earth
  • a few drops of glycerin or honey
  • water

Instructions:

  • Place all the dry ingredients (the first 6 ingredients) into a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  • Pour mixture into an airtight container and keep it cool and dry until you are ready to use it.
  • To prepare mixture for use, shake the container then place a small amount of it into a clean, dry ceramic bowl.
  • Add enough water (a few drops) to make a thick paste. Stir with a spoon until water is absorbed evenly.
  • Mix in a few drops of glycerin or honey, according to your preference.
  • Apply mixture to damp skin and gently rub in a circular motion.
  • Rinse it off with warm water and pat dry with a soft towel.

When all’s said and done, your itching skin symptoms will, over time, fade or even disappear  if you continue to follow the Strictly Low Histamine Diet and keep your skin free of harsh chemicals, soap and artificial perfumes.

The next post will have recipes for home-made shampoos and conditioners, so drop in later if you’d like to see them.


 About Fuller’s Earth

According to Wikipedia (article retrieved 28.7.14) ‘Fuller’s Earth is any clay material that has the capability to decolorize oil or other liquids without chemical treatment. Fuller’s Earth typically consists of palygorskite (attapulgite) or bentonite. Modern uses of Fuller’s earth include absorbents for oil, grease, and animal waste and as a carrier for pesticides and fertilizers. Minor uses include filtering, clarifying, and decolorizing; and as filler in paint, plaster, adhesives, and pharmaceuticals.

‘The name reflects the historic use of the material for cleaning or “fulling” wool by textile workers called “fullers”. In past centuries, fullers kneaded fuller’s earth and water into woollen cloth to absorb lanolin, oils, and other greasy impurities as part of the cloth finishing process. Fuller’s Earth is also sometimes referred to as ‘bleaching clay’, probably because fulling whitened the cloth.’

Uses

‘In addition to its original use in the fulling of raw fibers, Fuller’s Earth is now utilized in a number of industries. Most important applications make use of the minerals’ natural absorbent properties in products sold as absorbents or filters.

‘Medicine: Fuller’s Earth is used (with activated charcoal) in the treatment of paraquat poisoning to prevent the progression to pulmonary fibrosis.

‘Decontamination: Fuller’s Earth is used by military and civil emergency service personnel to decontaminate the clothing and equipment of servicemen and CBRN (Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear) responders who have been contaminated with chemical agents.

‘Personal care: Fuller’s Earth has been used in the Indian subcontinent as a face pack and cleanser for thousands of years, and is known as also known as ‘Multani Mitti Clay’ – that is, mud from Multan. It has been used as an ingredient in powdered, “dry” shampoos, and is an important ingredient in many face packs. Fuller’s Earth was also sold in pharmacies until recently for compressing pills and cleaning hats and fabrics.

‘Cleaning Agent: In the Indian subcontinent, it has been used for centuries to clean marble. As a good absorbent, it removes the surface of dust, dirt, impurities and stains and replenishes the shine of the marble. It has been used numerous times to clean one of the most spectacular buildings in the white marble, that of the Taj Mahal, in Agra, India with positive results.’

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Skin care for HIT sufferers

Relieve Itching Skin

Many people with Histamine Intolerance suffer from itching skin. The Strictly Low Histamine Diet, combined with its suggested supplements, will help them enormously. In cases of severely itching skin, there are a few tricks to really gain control over the problem.

*  Freeze any leftover meats or foods containing eggs, rather than merely refrigerating them. Histamine only stops forming at temperatures below freezing – in the normal temperature of a refrigerator it continues to develop.

* Some people find that avoiding egg whites can improve their symptoms and relieve itching skin. Egg whites – particularly uncooked egg whites – contain histamine liberators. You can still eat eggs (pastured eggs of course!) but eat the yolks only, and bake with the yolks instead of the whole egg.

* Be aware of the ingredients of any substance that has contact with your skin. Avoid using soap, which can be an irritant. There are many soap-free cleaners commercially available. Avoid commercial skin products and shampoos containing irritant chemicals such as perfumes and colourants.

* Try rubbing raw organic coconut oil or evening primrose oil on your skin after you bathe. Ensure that you use organic raw coconut oil that has not been aged or fermented during processing.  Often it’s the cheapest brands that have been processed least.  You can use  the same organic raw coconut oil for skin care and in your cooking.

In the next post we will be giving you some recipes for home-made soap-free skin cleansers, so make sure you check back later!

 

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Witch Hazel – an ancient, efficacious remedy for skin ailments.

Witch Hazel

Witch HazelThe witch hazel shrub (Hamamelis virginiana), which is native to North America, is also known as winterbloom or spotted alder. The leaves and bark are used to make an astringent extract, also called witch hazel, which was used medicinally by Native Americans long before European settlers arrived on the continent. The Native American tradition was to steam the twigs to extract the useful compounds.

To this day, witch hazel extract remains a component of a several commercial healthcare products. It can also be purchased in a relatively pure form, from most pharmacies and drug stores.

Wikipedia states: ‘The essential oil of witch hazel is not sold separately as a consumer product. The plant does not produce enough essential oil to make production viable, however, there are various distillates of witch hazel (called hydrosols or hydrolats) that… contain alcohol. … Witch hazel is mainly used externally on sores, bruises, and swelling.’

Douglas Harper, in the Online Etymology Dictionary (2001) explains that the term ‘witch’, in this case, has its origins in Middle English ‘wiche’, from the Old English ‘wice’, meaning ‘pliant’ or ‘bendable’.
Our modern word ‘wicker’, (defined as pliable twigs, typically of willow, plaited or woven to make items such as furniture and baskets) evolved from the same root.

For people who suffer from histamine intolerance, the gentle, healing properties of witch hazel liquid from the druggist can be of great benefit. When dabbed on itchy skin, it can greatly ameliorate symptoms. One patient with an itchy scalp, who had tried every prescription treatment to no avail, cured her condition by rinsing her hair every day for a fortnight with witch hazel.

Liquid witch hazel hydrosol is a strong anti-oxidant and astringent. It can help soothe ‘weeping’ or oozing dermatitis, reduce inflammation in contact dermatitis, and for many people it relieves the itching of perioral dermatitis and atopic eczema. It is frequently used to treat psoriasis, shaving rash, excess sweating of the face, cracked or blistered skin, insect stings and bites, allergies to plants such as poison ivy, varicose veins and hemorrhoids, and to reduce swelling and soothe wounds.

Witch hazel is inexpensive, natural and gentle; a boon to those with histamine intolerance who often endure itching skin.

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