August 17, 2020
When a person suffers from eczema or a skin breakdown, they have a leaky barrier that can allow a chemical toxin, plant allergen or bacterial pathogen to slip into the immune sensitive area that causes a perturbation. We recognize this response as an inflammatory skin rash. In a time gone past, the exposure to chemicals was rare and these issues were also rare. Now we have a world filled with inhaled, ingested and topically applied chemicals for good and bad purposes.
In the case of the "good" applications, we are finding that this is not so true. In a study by Dr. Collis and colleagues, we see a "hypoallergenic" soap or shampoo contains an irritant called CAPB or cocamidopropyl betaine that worsens eczema in young children. More than 50% of tested products contained this sensitizer despite being labeled hypoallergenic.
There are many chemicals in our personal care products that appear innocuous only to turn out not to be so. Be very aware that the use of all products carries some undefined risk to contacting and irritating the immune system if the skin barrier is broken down.
Visit the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep webpage for a very thorough analysis of skin products and their inherent risks.
A second analysis of chemicals and skin brings us to the realm of toys. Dr. Fenner looked at toys and skin reactions in the Journal Contact Dermatitis. They note that toys are often a window into the compounds used frequently in all forms of manufacturing. Contact dermatitis to toys, and children's jewelry was shown decades ago. They analyzed the published literature and found that electronics, toy cars, costume jewelry, bicycles, sqwish balls, slime, Play-Doh, and plasticine are triggers for skin reactions. Electronics such as video game controllers, cellphones, iPads, and computers were also implicated. (Fenner et. al. 2020)
The simple reality is that we are living in a relatively toxic environment and if you have skin barrier issues, the world around you becomes a challenge. Just like an asthmatic person is a canary in the coal mine for aerosolized chemicals, the diabetic for bad diet choices, now eczematous humans show us the toxicity of chemicals that touch the skin.
If you want to really get frustrated and depress yourself, visit this site about toys and toxins.
Collis J Amer Acad Derm
Fenner Contact Dermatitis