Saturday, July 8, 2017

Life With Chronic Conditions: What Touches Our Skin

JAMA Internal Medicine has recently reported how cosmetic and personal care products-which includes shampoos, conditioners as well as “make-up” are largely unregulated. There is no approval process so products can appear on shelves-or at local farmer’s market-without any testing literally overnight. This is particularly troubling for people with chronic conditions who often have skin and hair issues, which can be adversely compounded by a new hair product, body wash or even a change in clothes detergent.

Another article, this time from the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy,  has found that the common ingredient triclosan has been linked to antibiotic resistance. This ingredient appears in a number of products including soaps, dental care, cosmetics, deodorant, first aid, kitchenware, personal care, clothes (Biofresh socks, undergarments, tops and bottoms), office and school supplies. For a partial list of products containing triclosan, go to Beyond Pesticides.

Whether you are cleaning yourself or the dishes, it’s important that you know what’s in the products you are using. To protect yourself:

Read Labels: Since the liver is such a vital organ, you are going to want to avoid products with the following ingredients that are toxic to the liver:
• Phthalates including di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP) and di(2-ehtylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP)
• Lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
• Diethanolamine (DEA), triethanolamine (TEA), amonoethanolamine (MEA)
• Propylene / butylene glycol (PG)

Other ingredients to avoid include 1,4 dioxane, triclosan, parabens, synthetic colors, fragrance, fomaldehyde, toluene. Also note that products with added vitamins can be particularly problematic.

Check with Condition Specific Organizations: Condition specific organizations and medical groups will often list ingredients you need to avoid as well as what might work best for you. For example, Hepatitis Central provides a list of liver-friendly brands of cosmetics.  A quick way to check about product safety for your given condition, Google “cosmetics to avoid if you have....” and list your condition.

• Use Guides: There are several websites that rank products of all types regarding their safety and use.
- Good Guide (includes personal care, food, household and baby/kid products.
- Environmental Working Group: Rates over 80,000 personal care products plus a whole lot more. 

• Stick with products you know work for you and don’t be swayed by the latest branding and advertising.

• File complaints: If you have a reaction or problem, definitely file a complaint with the FDA but also let your medical provider and condition specific group know so they can alert other people with a similar condition.

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