Finding the correct washing products is a must for anyone with eczema and allergy problems. In my experience, one of the best and most beneficial changes an allergy sufferer can make is to switch to a hypoallergenic soap that contains as few harmful chemicals and perfumes as possible.
I first started to question the soap I was using a few years back after a particularly bad bout of eczema. I was looking around for anything that could possibly be causing the flare up, and what do we rub on our face on an almost daily basis? Soap.
Not only did the penny drop that the soap I was using could be exacerbating my skin problems, but I also started thinking about the sheer lunacy of many cleansing product that people use. Like most people these days, I had a house full of shower gels, hand soap, face wash, bath soap etc, all claiming to contain ‘real’ fruit essences, essential oils and helpful ingredients.
In a nutshell, I decided that was all nonsense. Really. When taking a shower, why on earth do we need to rub our bodies with expensive, over-hyped gel that mostly goes straight down the plug hole, and contains all sorts of potentially harmful chemicals? Whichever way you look at it, it seemed like a terrible idea to me.
Choosing a Hypoallergenic Soap
Since then, I have switched completely away from these complicated products and started using a simple bar of soap. Cheap, low on packaging and containing no perfume – a bar of hypoallergenic soap is a perfect way to wash for any allergy sufferer, or frankly anybody else. The bar of soap I’m currently using seems to have lasted for months.
With this in mind, I’d like to share with you my favourite soaps. If you cannot find the exact brands I use, don’t worry. Look for a similar product available in your area. The important thing to remember is, it’s not the brand itself but the principles of using a simple, cheap, hypoallergenic soap that are crucial.
Dead Sea Mud Soap
This has to be my number one favourite. There is a brand in the UK called Spa Magick, but there are a number of different dead sea mud soaps on the market. I use this pretty much daily, and I experience no adverse allergic reactions on my skin. It seems to be gentle enough to use on the face but crucially, seems to do a great job of removing dirst as a conventional soap does. The only downside is it will leave a black residue all over your bath/sink or towels. That’s not a problem, it will come off straight away with warm water as it’s only soap, it just takes a bit of getting used to. Remember not to wipe your face all over your mother in laws best tea towels and you’ll be fine!
This stuff is well known amongst any allergy or eczema sufferer. I forget the number of times I have been prescribed it by the doctor, who assures me it does the job of cleansing your face as well as soap. For moderate to severe sufferers, it really is an essential part of your routine. However to me it has always felt just like a face cream, but achieving nothing really as a cleanser. It doesn’t really mix at all with water and feels totally alien to wash with. I personally turn to it when my eczema is too bad to use anything else, but having found some great hypoallergenic soap alternatives, haven’t felt the need so much lately.
Cleansing Bars (Cetaphil)
Cetaphil is a brand that is relatively new to the UK market, but one of the best products they have introduced so far is the ‘cleansing bar’. This is a concept introduced by a number of companies and is a simple, soap free bar that can be used all over the body and face. Price wise, you will be paying a small premium over ordinary soap, but this will be well be worth it. The only issue I have is, having read the ingredients list there are still a few problematic ingredients like ‘masking fragrance’. I have no idea if any of these are going to be harmful, but always prefer where possible to use products that are entirely free of ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’. That way you can eradicate any doubt whatsoever.
Pure bath salts are another of my absolute favourite hypoallergenic alternatives to soap. Used for centuries as a cleansing agent, a handful of sea salt in a warm bath is a luxurious and natural experience. I honestly couldn’t go back to a bubble bath any more, pouring in those luminous, expensive, perfumed soaps when you can relax in a pure salt bath. Salt is known to draw out impurities and comfort people with eczema and dermatitis. Be sure to choose pure sea salt, not perfumes or coloured bath salts. A number of different manufacturers supply pure sea salt and there is really no need to go for anything too expensive. I’ve recently found a simple ‘dead sea bath salt’ product which comes in at less than £1 a box, whereas some chemists try to sell this stuff for around £7 a go! Shop around. At the end of the day all you need is, well, salt!
Yes, you read that correctly. Stop using soap altogether. That might sound drastic, but really, chronic allergy sufferers need to put their health first. If there’s a slight chance that soap is contributing to your skin condition, why take the risk? As I’ve said previously, many soap and cleansing products are just overpriced, over marketed nonsense anyway.
Now of course, anybody with a job, going on a date, socialising etc needs to be clean, I get that. But do you really need to wash as often as you do? Do you need two showers per day? And lets say you are on leave from work and have nowhere to be, is it really neccessary to jump in the shower and ply yourself with all sorts of products? If you don’t shower for a few days you won’t die, trust me.
I admit it, I do this all the time – and it seems to work. Not washing allows your skin and hair to build it’s natural oils back up. Humans really weren’t designed to wash quite so frequently. There are a number of people out there discussing this technique, and here are a couple of my favorites. Here’s one dude Mac Demarco who discusses washing only when neccessary. And here are a couple of dudes who are taking things a step further and rarely if ever wash! See what works for you.