What soap is best for eczema?
Posted on 19th April 2020 at 20:26
What Soap is Best for Eczema?
In this article we are going to cover a few topics that are going to tell you about eczema in detail including the causes and how to effectively get rid of your eczema, we’re also going to tell you about the best soap for eczema and how using it every day can help to get rid of eczema. Topics include;
What causes eczema?
Eczema is an umbrella term for dry skin conditions caused by a number of factors but the main cause of eczema is contact with skin irritants.
Eczema is the skins reaction to an irritant. When the skin becomes dry and broken, bacteria can easily get past the initial epidermis layer of skin. Skin irritants are the first phase of an eczema reaction as they cause the initial break in the skins layers which allow bacteria to penetrate.
Eczema is caused by the skins reaction to the invading bacteria getting past the epidermis. Once the bacteria has triggered our immune system, it releases some cells to fight the invaders. These cells are called t-cells and they work with b-cells to release antibodies to fight the bacteria. The inflammation associated with eczema is caused because in eczema sufferers the t-cells don't stop working when they should, and carry on inflaming the affected area.
Eczema is caused by two things. Firstly the initial irritant to skin causing a break in the skin. Secondly the reaction of the bodies t-cells towards the invading bacteria and the inability of these t-cells to recognise when the bacteria has been dealt with.
There are a number of irritants that can cause your skin to have the initial break and we'll cover those in more detail later in this article.
There are 3 main types of eczema, including atopic, contact and seborrhoeic eczema (dandruff).
Atopic eczema is a reaction to a substance that has come into contact with your body. This could be eating something that your body doesn’t like; it could also be using a new product which may contain some ingredient that irritates you.
Contact dermatitis is a reaction to something that you have touched, this is one of the most common causes of eczema. Coming into contact with a substance that your body is allergic to can trigger an allergic reaction which will show up as eczema.
Common items that cause contact dermatitis include; rubbing alcohol, concrete dust, detergents, bleach, fertilizers and pesticides.
The last type of eczema is dandruff or seborrhoeic eczema, doctors aren’t 100% sure why this type of eczema occurs but it is thought that this occurs from a specific type of yeast that is secreted from the scalp called malassezia.
There are a number of other environmental factors that can cause eczema such as cold or dry weather, dampness, stress, different types of food and allergens.
Humidity can also play a large factor. If you live in a particularly humid country like the UK you are more likely to suffer than someone who lives in Luxor in Egypt, one of the least humid places on the planet.
The UK humidity levels average between 70-95%, and statistically May is the least humid month. In comparison to the least humid places in the world which have an average humidity level of 26%.
As you can see the UK is very humid, which is why we have a large amount of people suffering, along with other humid countries such as China, South Korea and France.
Cause's of eczema
Here is a list of specific items that can cause eczema, all of these items can cause a contact or atopic reaction.
Nickel - nickel, which is one of the most common causes of atopic eczema, found in lots of common foods such as black tea, nuts and chocolate.
Cobalt- this is another common metal that is widely found in food such as fish, leafy green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach. It is also a key component of vitamin b12. Special diets are available from your local GP if a cobalt allergy is detected.
Fragrances - unnatural fragrance contains a cocktail of chemicals that can set off eczema. They also contain harmful ingredients such as parabens and phthalates which can be potential carcinogens.
Formaldehyde - found in vaccines, adhesives and disinfectants. Also commonly found in ‘easy iron’ clothing such as school or office clothing.
Fabrics - wool and in particular polyester can set off eczema. Natural materials such as cotton, silk and bamboo are particularly good alternatives. With a special mention to bamboo which can remove moisture from areas prone to excessive moisture, such as armpits and knees.
Antibacterial products - the cocktail of chemicals in these have some particularly nasty ingredients that can set off eczema such as isothiazolines, neomycin, bacitracin.
Cocamidopropyl betain - a common ingredient in shampoos and lotions and a surfactant, this is a similar surfactant to sodium lauryl sulphate and commonly used in shampoo’s.
Stress - emotional stress can cause a flare up, and it can be difficult to relieve the stress if the thing you are stressed about is eczema
Climate - the ideal climate for human skin has a humidity level of between 40-60%. If you live somewhere with these conditions then you are less likely to suffer with eczema. If you live in the UK, then the majority of the time this is not the case
Infection - staph infections tend to be the worse for eczema flare ups. But all infections can cause stress which again may lead to a flare up.
Hormones – A drop in estrogen levels can cause a flare up in eczema. Also hormones can raise stress levels which is also a trigger.
Allergens - there are everyday allergens that can cause your skin to flare up such as dust mites or contact with animals such as dogs and cats
Zinc- this potential allergen is present in many foods, such as: beef, pork, chicken, shellfish, almonds, cashews, fortified breakfast cereals and dairy products. It can also be present in many of our everyday electronic circuitboards for instance your mobile phone will contain zinc.
Foods that cause eczema
Food is a common source of atopic eczema and is often overlooked as a possible cause of flare ups.
One of the easiest ways to figure out if a food is causing your flare ups is to keep a food diary and work and also note in the diary the days of flare ups.
By doing this you should be able to eliminate foods that cause you flare ups and which you may have a small allergic reaction to.
It is also important to note that flare ups can occur up to 96 hours after ingesting the food, so it is important to look into the last 4 days of food and look for patterns between flare ups.
If you do suspect a certain food is causing your flare ups then talk to your GP about being tested.
A lot of the foods on the list below are common foods that people are allergic is likely to be the reason that flare ups occur;
Dairy - milk, cheese and any product that contains milk, which is often used as a binding agent, also chocolate which can have varying amounts of milk within it.
Eggs - eggs are often a source of allergy, they can be used in meat products as well to bind them together such as in burgers.
Gluten - found in many household staples such as bread and pasta, it’s hard to avoid, but with gluten-free sections being introduced in supermarkets it has become easier.
Soy - soy allergies are particularly prevalent in younger children, with most developing a tolerance by late childhood.
Citrus fruits - this is mainly for contact dermatitis, which comes from touching the peel of the fruit rather than ingesting. Although citrus allergies are extremely rare, it could be worth trying a small amount of citrus peel oil on the skin for a patch test to see if any inflammation occurs.
Spices - vanilla, cloves and cinnamon are amongst some of the most common in causing an allergic reaction, so it’s probably best to avoid all cuisines which include these as ingredients.
Nuts - nuts are one of the top causes of allergies, and unlike some other allergens such as soy, you are unlikely to develop a tolerance to them. Clinical trials are currently being undertaken to test whether giving miniscule amounts of nuts gradually to patients with a nut allergy can develop a tolerance to them but research is still ongoing.
Tomatoes - One of the hardest to avoid, as so many popular dishes contain tomatoes and fortunately this is a rare allergy. Tomatoes can release histamines which can cause the allergic reaction.
How to get rid of eczema
One of the easiest ways to get rid of dry skin or eczema is to remove the irritants that you come into contact with daily from your life.
One of the most common irritants which is proven to cause dry skin and eczema is surfactants.
These surfactants are in lots of cosmetic products and also products that we use on a daily basis. By removing these from our every day routines and replacing them with alternatives that don’t contain surfactants or irritating ingredients.
Below we’re going to list some of the most common items that you may come into daily contact with and why they cause eczema.
Soap - some over-the-counter soaps from your supermarket or pharmacy contain high levels of detergent within them. As well as detergents they can also contain high amounts of palm oil, which is drying in soaps. Sulphates in the soaps strip natural grease from your skin which holds in water. By damaging the skins ability to limit water loss it can inhibit the flare up of dry skin or even eczema.
Bubble bath - lots of us like to have bubbles in our bath, but the bubbles are actually created by the detergents which also act as foaming agents. Bath salts can be a great alternative or having a bath without bubbles. One thing you can add to your bath if you miss the relaxing smells of the bubble bath is essential oils, but we recommend doing a patch test to check you are not allergic before using in the bath.
Shower gel - shower gel, like most liquid cleaners, use sodium lauryl sulphate or similar detergents as their cleansing agent. Shower gels are mainly made up from water and detergents and can be extremely drying. This is similar to over the counter soaps made with detergents where they strip natural grease and aid water loss from the skin.
Shampoo- like other liquid wash products shampoo’s use sulphates for their cleaning agent. Shampoo’s can contain high amounts of sulphates which can be harmful to people who suffer from contact dermatitis or have sensitive skin. Shampoo bars can be even worse than shampoo’s and can contain up to 90% sodium lauryl sulphate, in a solid noodle/needle form. One of the most common irritants included in shampoo’s is cocamidopropyl betaine.
Hand wash/liquid soap - the liquid soaps that are common in the pump bottles, aren’t just bad for the environment, they contain detergents which can strip your hands of the oils they need and make them particularly dry and prone to eczema.
Washing up liquid – One of the most common items you can come into contact with every day, unless you always use a dishwasher! Remember to wear gloves whilst washing up and try to not come in contact with it as this has one of the highest concentrations of harmful sulphates because of their grease stripping power.
Laundry detergent - there can be high amounts of detergents and irritants in washing powder and liquid solutions. Non bio is better for eczema sufferers, but there are also natural alternatives such as natural washing powder.
Moisturising cream - some of the top brands for moisturising creams and emollients still use sulphates in their products. They have removed the sodium lauryl sulphate and replaced them with lesser known derivatives, but they still cause skin irritation. It is for these reasons these products may cause your skin to have contact dermatitis. Try switching to a natural alternative without sulphates in, such as body butter or creams without sulphates.
Fragranced Products- Fragrances often contain hundreds of different ingredients, some of which can be harmful and carcinogenic such as parabens and phthalates. They can also contain allergens. Fragrance sensitivity is found in 1-4% of the general population depending on country and in 15% of people who suffer with contact dermatitis. Using products that are naturally scented is a viable alternative. One of the scents that we highly recommend is patchouli as this essential oil contains zero allergens.
Hair Dyes- these products often contain the ingredient paraphenylene-diamine and can cause an allergic reaction. If you regularly dye your hair make sure you don’t come into contact with the solution or avoid altogether if you have a reaction after using these products
Clothing- Wool and polyester can irritate skin and cause a reaction to the skin. We recommend wearing only, cotton, silk and bamboo. Also make sure none of you clothing is ‘easy iron’ or ‘stain resistant’ as these clothing items often contain formaldehyde which is carcinogenic. This chemical is added to clothing to make it easier to care for but can cause an allergic reaction if you suffer from eczema.
Antibacterial - ingredients bacitracin and neomycin can be a source of allergic reaction which can lead to eczema. They are commonly used in antibacterial creams and ointments, some of which are used to treat eczema.
Isothiazolinones - used in products to prevent oxidization and discolouration of the products; they are also commonly found in wet wipes and baby wipes.
By removing these common ingredients for irritation from your every day life as well as finding trigger foods mentioned in the section above you will be able to remove eczema from your life.
You may find that by removing a few your skin will improve and its important to note that everybody will have slightly different triggers, but this list covers most of the items that you need to know about that cause irritation to the skin.
One of the simplest swaps to make it by switching your usual soap or shower gel to a soap specifically designed for eczema. Soaps for eczema will contain only natural ingredients which are skin loving.
Why natural soap is best for eczema
Natural soap is better for skin that suffers with eczema because it contains no irritants. The only ingredients in a truly natural soap should be oils, fats and butters, colourants, plus some essential oils if you want a scented soap.
Lye is also used to make soap, but none remains in the soap once saponification and curing has taken place.
Ingredients in soaps, shower gels, handwash and laundry detergents such as sodium lauryl sulphate and other associated surfactants are designed to be degreasers and remove oil and grease from surfaces.
That means they break down oils and allow them to be washed away. This is a most admirable quality in cleaning products such as laundry detergents and washing up liquid, as you can get stubborn stains out of clothes and remove stuck on dirt from greasy pans, but not so much in soap.
Our skin on the other hand is slightly different. Human skin naturally produces an oil which is called sebum.
This natural oil has a couple of jobs which it needs to do. Firstly it needs to fill in the gaps between skin cells. The reason for this is our skin naturally loses moisture which we replenish through drinking water.
When we degrease and wash away our protective sebum from between our skin cells we are allowing a lot more moisture to escape our skin than is normal. The result is very dry skin or eczema.
If your skin is dry then your skin is not responding to the loss of moisture and that is the reason you are suffering with dry skin or eczema.
Some people have skin that does respond to the oils being washed away or they respond too slowly, allowing lots of gaps to form and water to escape.
This is what happens when you have an eczema flare up, lots of water is being allowed to escape and nothing is stopping the water loss which results in dry skin or eczema.
Soap for eczema will contain glycerin, this substance is one of the best moisturisers on the planet and is naturally produced in the soap making process.
A lot of the over the counter soaps remove the glycerin from their soaps to sell on as it a highly value commodity for use in other products such as food and pharmaceuticals.
The best soap for eczema will contain glycerin and one clue that your soap’s glycerin has not been removed is that it will not contain salt or sodium chloride on the ingredients label.
In the next section we’ll tell you everything you need to know about glycerin in soap and why its so important to have in a soap for eczema.
What is glycerin in soap?
Glycerin is a molecule that is attached to natural fats. Often known as triglycerides because three fat molecules are attached to one glycerin molecule.
During the soap making process the fats attached to the glycerin are turned into salts (soap) and the soap mixture will have glycerin left floating around in it.
This is why natural soap contains large amounts of glycerin which is great for the skin.
This is because glycerin is a humectant and actively draws moisture towards your skin. This is why you may notice a natural soap ‘sweating’ - this is because the soap is drawing moisture from the air towards it. It does this for your skin as well.
The reason normal shop bought soap (which may contain glycerin) doesn’t provide you with this moisturising benefit is it will only contain trace amounts of glycerin and the sulphates it contains will counteract the glycerin benefit.
Why does it only contain trace amounts? The answer is glycerin is hugely valuable and one of the key ingredients in moisturising cream.
Soap companies remove it from their soaps to either put in their moisturisers or sell on to other industries which we’ve mentioned above to use in their products.
It’s a really simply process, all they have to do is boil the soap in salt water and it separates, once the soap is separate the soap floats at the top and the curds can be scooped up and compressed into the bar you get from the shop, with a trace amount of glycerin.
They can then boil off the salted water and are left with a nice pile of glycerin which has a much higher value than soap.
Now they can sell you this glycerin back in a moisturising cream or lotion. This is why using a soap with glycerin for eczema is highly recommended, because your skin will not become dry, and cracked and infiltrated by bacteria.
This in turn will stop the bodies harsh immune response to your skin, causing irritation and very itchy skin. Glycerin is one of the most amazing ingredients for eczema and can be administered daily with use of a soap bar that contains a good amount of glycerin.
The good thing about Seatree Cosmetics is that we keep all of our glycerin in our soap. That’s because we believe natural is best and want our customers to have soft, beautifully moisturised skin.
Our top tip for eczema is to avoid the irritant that you are most likely to come in contact with.
By far the most common irritant we have listed that you can avoid is sodium lauryl sulphate and its derivatives. It’s in most common soaps, shampoos, shower gels, hand wash, bubble bath, toothpaste, make-up, nicotine patches, washing up liquid and laundry detergent.
For a relaxing bath we recommend using bath salts or essential oils instead of bubble bath as this tends to have a high concentration of sulphates and detergents to aid the production of bubbles.
One of the key things to watch out for is some natural soap can be incredibly drying. Soaps made with majority ingredients of palm oil, palm kernel oil and coconut oil are super cleansing and can dry your skin out.
Soap still needs to contain a cleanser, our cleanser in our soap is coconut oil as it is not responsible for mass deforestation in some of the most precious habitats in the world. We only use enough to clean you and not leave your skin dried out.
Our soap is formulated so that it cleans naturally with coconut oil but also nourishes the skin with top quality skin loving ingredients and lots of glycerin to keep your skin moisturised.
We also specifically formulated our soap so that it is moisturising and nourishing to the skin and only ever use natural ingredients to achieve this.
So in conclusion to the question is which soap good for eczema, the answer is any soap that satisfies all the criteria laid out above will be good for eczema.
We recommend our lavender soap, as lavender has the most skin loving qualities in its essential oils, you can find out about the benefits of lavender essential oils here.
If you have a lot of allergies then try the patchouli soap as it has no allergens and is therefore the most hypoallergenic.
If you’ve enjoyed this article or learnt something new thats great! We’d love to hear what you thought of it in the comment section below.
I hope you have enjoyed this article, and we have plenty more on our blog if you want to read more about why natural soap is so great.
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