Let's take a look at common ingredients in skincare products that can aggravate Eczema.
- Citric acid
- Mineral Oil
- Synthetic fragrance
SODIUM LAURETH SULPHATE (SLeS) AND SODIUM LAURYL SULPHATE (SLS):
WHAT IS IT? Emulsifier or detergent. Alone, or accompanied by other surfactants, they are found in many cosmetic products, especially in shampoos and body washes.
WHY AVOID THEM? They cause skin irritation. Their ability to strip the skin means they penetrate deeper into the viable layers and can cause immune reactions. SLS is one of the cheapest and strongest surfactants used in skin care; it is also one of the most irritating. Trying to make it less irritating, chemists created SLeS which may be less irritating, but is regularly contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a carcinogen by-product of the chemical reaction used to create it. In addition, SLS and SLeS are also known to elicit skin reactions such as irritant contact dermatitis or may cause inflammation.
WHERE ARE THEY HIDDEN? Shampoos and body washes, well known children's bath products, shower gels, bath bombs, bubble bath, soap, pretty much anything that cleans and bubbles! Ironically, they are included in many products intended for sensitive skin.
MINERAL OIL (paraffinum liquidum, petroleum oil):
WHAT IS IT? Mineral oil is a by-product of refining crude oil to make gasoline and other petroleum products. It is very inexpensive, has a long shelf life and it is also quite an effective emollient. Due to these advantages to the cosmetic industry, it is very widely used in skincare products for example in body lotions, facial creams, nappy creams, baby oil, petroleum jelly and lipsticks or lip balms.
WHY AVOID IT? Products containing it could be classed as equal to wrapping the skin in cling film. Whilst it’s an effective barrier at keeping moisture in, it also stops any hydration getting in or out of the skin and can also take several washes to fully remove it from the skin. The result is the skin drying out, cracking, bleeding, remaining sore, red or weepy, burning rashes, inflammation and the need to reapply constantly.
WHERE ARE THEY HIDDEN? Look out for paraffinum liquidum, paraffinum, cera microcristallina, petrolatum, mineral oil or paraffin waxes. – products: petroleum jelly products, baby oil, stretch mark oil, well known nappy creams, prescribed eczema creams and ointments.
WHAT IS IT? Unfortunately, artificial fragrances are only listed as ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ on the label, but they are a complex mixture of many chemicals, which are not disclosed.
WHY AVOID IT? There are concerns as there have been some reported side-effects of these substances related to skin sensitivity, rashes, dermatitis, coughing, asthma attacks, migraine, allergic reactions etc
WHERE ARE THEY HIDDEN? All house cleaners, air fresheners, candles, room sprays, fabric cleaners, washing powder and softener, basically anything with a scent. It can be difficult to tell if a product contains synthetic fragrance or just natural essential oils as both can be listed as fragrance or parfum on a label (companies are not required to declare which essential oils they use if they have had the scent certified). However, companies usually put an asterisk sign next to the word parfum and write something like “from natural essential oils” in the notes under the INCI list if that is the case. Better still, if you are really sensitive, stick to unscented products or those with transparent labelling.
A couple more natural ingredients to watch out for are:
Contrary to popular belief, just because essential oils are natural, doesn't mean they can't irritate skin. Oils like tea tree and eucalyptus can be particularly irritating and many should not be used on children. Some are much more sensitive skin friendly, like Lavender and Neroli and safe to use from 6 months. If you are particularly sensitive, it's best to stick to unscented products.
This is often used in bath bombs and creams for skin feel. It can be irritating to skin and should be considered if you have particularly bad eczema.
For more reading on other chemicals to avoid with eczema, here's a medically reviewed article on Web MD.
To find out more about how SOS Balm can help with eczema, click here.