Letter to a Medical Student — What % of Cases Are From Detergent? — Part 1

I appreciate hearing from someone in medical school.  When I first wrote the website, I was doing citizen science before there was a term for it, so I had no framework to do anything but share through our own journey, in order to help as many people as possible until I could write something more traditionally scientific.  I thought the site would appeal mostly to natural practitioners but be ignored by allopathic practitioners until I could do a study and publish in more traditional outlets.

I found almost the opposite.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard my share of positive feedback from naturally-oriented practitioners who found the site useful.  But I’ve actually gotten the most ready acceptance from allopathic practitioners who read the site.  If they just glance at it or page through it and think they know what it says, they may be dismissive, but if they actually read it, they are invariably positive, even enthusiastic.  I’ve heard from many doctors over the years who not only have used the site for their families, but refer patients to it.  I’ve been thanked by many parents who had my site information because a doctor gave it to them.  I’ve heard from doctors who just appreciate being able to wash their hands frequently and still have healthy skin.  My own doctor once told me that she had just commented to a colleague that, “She really has solved eczema!”

I think the reason my site has been surprisingly well-received by allopathic practitioners is that my perspective pulls together so many loose threads from available research, and views the whole through a new lens that is consistent with what is already known.  I’m putting empirical problem-solving into the context of the available research, with which it is absolutely consistent.  Too often people make good empirical observations and then overlay a vague and unscientific framework to explain it (which may or may not be accurate or generalizable, often not).  It’s not surprising then that allopathic physicians don’t accept the empirical observations, no matter how sound.

And, there is a difference between understanding something scientifically and getting people to implement a problem-solving heuristic in order to address an environmental problem affecting their health — my site is mainly a problem-solving heuristic, although I do have to explain enough that people understand why because my perspective is so different.  People still need their doctors in implementing such a heuristic for safety’s sake, for anything medical really, but the site is not a medical treatment per se, so doctors who understand what it’s trying to achieve typically appreciate having that resource available.

The one specialty exception has been dermatologists!  Which is understandable, because what I am saying does in some ways fundamentally conflict with what they learn about the skin.  For example, one of the key stumbling blocks is the accepted traditional idea that skin becomes dry from washing because of lipids stripped from the skin.  I take a different view, that skin becomes dry because of water loss resulting mainly from the molecular properties of residues ON the skin, residues left from washing or absorbed from contact with dust or surfaces.  (See previous blog posts for more — scroll down to links for “Posts on understanding and solving dry skin”.)

My view is really radically different, but if you think about it, the idea that skin is dry because of stripped oils or lipids from washing is more an educated assumption not incontrovertibly proven by thorough scientific study, the way it was assumed in the early days of AIDS that the virus was dormant rather than locked in a fierce battle with the immune system which the immune system eventually loses, as was eventually found.  My view that the water loss results mainly from the interaction of (primarily syndet) residues of certain molecular properties with the skin isn’t yet proven, either, but it’s at least consistent with very basic biological science that every medical student learns.  Most importantly, my view pans out in solving the problems of dry skin from washing and very often, eczema.


You asked how I came up with the statement that detergent-reactive eczema “likely accounts for 25-60% of eczema, depending on the age group and locality, higher if other allergies and an inherited predisposition are factors.”

(I’ll answer that in my next post.)

Best regards,

AJ Lumsdaine

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