Shampoos and Conditioners are Frequent Causes of Common Skin Problem

personal care products, shampoo, conditioner, eczema, allergy, skin, nickel, linaloolConsiderably more people than previously believed are allergic to the most common fragrance ingredient used in shampoos, conditioners and soap. In a study, over 5 percent of those who underwent patch testing were allergic to the air oxidized form of the fragrance ingredient linalool.

Linalool is found in 60 to 80 percent of perfumed hygiene products, soap and household cleaning agents that can be bought in the supermarket, so it can be difficult for people who are allergic to avoid these products.

In the study, oxidized linalool was added at patch testing for more than 3,000 patients who wanted to find out what was causing their eczema. Between 5 percent and 7 percent proved to be allergic.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

I’ve previously posted information on my site about the hidden, and often toxic, chemicals found in commonly used products such as cosmetics and household cleaners, but many fail to realize that even natural compounds can cause trouble under certain circumstances, for certain individuals. Linalool is a prime example of this.

What is Linalool?

Linalool is a naturally-occurring chemical found in over 200 species of flowers and spice plants. The most commonly used sources include:

  • Mint
  • Lavender
  • Cinnamon
  • Rosewood
  • Citrus

It has many commercial applications, but it is mainly used as a scenting agent due to its pleasant floral and spice scent.  The pure compound is not allergenic in and of itself, but once it oxidizes -- after being exposed to air -- it can cause contact allergy such as eczema.

Nickel is by far the most common cause of contact allergies, followed by cobalt, and oxidized linalool, according to this latest study.

That’s troublesome, considering the fact that linalool is used in about 60 to 80 percent of the scented personal hygiene products, wash liquids, and other household cleansers on the market.

One way to minimize your risk of being exposed to oxidized linalool is to make sure you replace the cap after using the product, so that the contents is not continuously exposed to air.  Another even safer way is to avoid scented products entirely. 

Scents of all kinds can prove problematic. Synthetic musks, for example, which can be found in nearly any consumer product with a pleasant smell, are now found at high levels in mothers’ breast milk. It’s very important to realize that anything you put on your skin can not only cause a contact allergy, but will also be absorbed into your blood stream and cause all sorts of other, potentially more serious health problems.

Common Skin Allergy Triggers

Eczema is a common allergic condition that affects more than 15 million Americans. It is typically caused by food allergies, but is also frequently triggered by environmental factors and dozens of external irritants like:

  • Laundry detergent
  • Soaps
  • Household chemicals
  • Workplace chemicals
  • Perfumes
  • Animal dander
  • Metals (such as nickel in jewelry)

Why You Should Avoid Conventional Treatments

The conventional treatment for eczema typically involves some form of topical drug, such as a steroid cream. Unfortunately, although it will work initially, you tend to rapidly develop tolerance to it. These types of creams also come with potentially serious side effects as they contain synthetic steroids.

Once absorbed into your body through your skin, they can wreak serious havoc with your adrenal system.

My advice is to avoid steroid creams and other potentially dangerous medications for eczema at all costs and use natural methods instead. The tried-and-true methods outlined below will work for nearly everyone, especially if they’re diligently applied.

First, Address Your Diet and Food Allergies

Food allergies play a primary role in eczema. In my experience, the most common offending agent is wheat, or more specifically, gluten. Avoiding wheat and other gluten-containing grains is therefore a wise first step.

If you were to visit my clinic outside of Chicago as a new patient, one of the first steps we would advise would be to go on a gluten-free diet for a number of weeks and carefully observe any health improvements.  This is an enormously common problem and many of our patients are surprised to find how much improvement they actually achieve from this step.

Avoiding grains will also reduce the amount of sugar in your system, which will normalize your insulin levels and reduce any and all inflammatory conditions you may have, including inflammation in your skin.

Other common allergens include milk and eggs. I recommend you do an elimination trial with these foods as well. You should see some improvement in about a week, sometimes less, after eliminating them from your diet if either of them is causing you trouble.

Other Effective Treatments for Eczema

Eczema is “the itch that rashes,” meaning, there’s really no rash until you start scratching the itchy area. So what’s the very first thing you need to do?

Stop scratching!

I know this is easier said than done. But fortunately, there IS a really simple, inexpensive way to relieve the itch: Simply put a saltwater compress over the itchy area.

You’ll want to use a high quality natural salt, such as Himalayan salt. Simply dissolve some salt in warm water, soak a compress in the solution, and place it on the affected area. This simple technique can virtually eliminate the itch!

Another method that can be helpful for reducing or stopping the itch is EFT. People with eczema frequently “wear their emotions on their skin,” so dealing with the underlying emotional component of your condition can be quite helpful.

Other simple and effective treatment methods that can help clear up eczema include:

Hydrating your skin from the inside – When working with any type of skin condition, you need to make sure your skin is optimally hydrated. Skin creams are rarely the answer here, but rather you’ll want to hydrate your skin from the inside out by consuming high quality, animal-based omega-3 fats in your diet.

Your best sources for omega-3s are animal-based fats like krill oil or fish oil. I also find it helpful to include a bit of gamma linoleic acid, typically in the form of primrose oil, as this works remarkably well for eczema.  Products like “krill for women” are good for both sexes for this condition as they have both fatty acids.

Plant-based omega-3s like flax and hemp seed, although decent omega-3 sources in general, will not provide the clinical benefit you need to reduce inflammation and swelling in your skin.

Secondly, you’ll want to reduce your exposure to harsh soaps and drying out your skin with excessive bathing. Use a very mild soap when you cleanse your skin, especially in the winter to avoid stripping your skin of moisture.

Additionally, in light of this latest information, you may also want to avoid any type of soap, shampoo or skin product that contains linalool, even though it’s a natural ingredient and may be found in ‘natural’ health care products.

Addressing your gut health – The health of your gut is often ignored, but it’s important to realize that the health and quality of your skin is strongly linked to the health of your gut. I recommend taking a high quality probiotic to ensure optimal digestive health. Fermented foods can be used as well, but are neither as common nor as easy to use.

Basking in the sun – Vitamin D in the form of sun exposure is your best friend when addressing  either of these skin conditions, but it’s especially helpful for psoriasis.

I produced a one-hour lecture that explains the health benefits of this long under-appreciated vitamin, so if you haven’t seen it already, I strongly recommend you take the time to watch this free video now.

Ideally, you’ll want to get your vitamin D from appropriate sunshine exposure because UVB radiation on your skin will not only metabolize vitamin D, but will also help restore ideal skin function. High amounts of UVB exposure directly on affected skin – but not so much to cause sunburn! – will greatly improve the quality of your skin.

However, if you can’t get sufficient amounts of sun during the winter months, a high quality safe tanning bed can suffice. A safe tanning bed will provide the optimized forms of UVA and UVB wavelengths, without dangerous magnetic skin balance.