Monthly Archive for June, 2007

Thank you Dr. Brazelton!

A woman in my mother’s club once told me that she did not believe her baby’s eczema could be caused by detergent exposure, because she herself had eczema and the condition was obviously genetic. In my experience, this genetic connection is a big indicator that the eczema is probably caused by detergents.

Detergent-reactive eczema seems highly correlated with atopy. That is, if one or more parents has a history of allergy, eczema, and/or asthma, the chance that baby’s eczema is caused by detergents is very high.

Although solveeczema.org is the only place to currently find this solution, I am not the first person to observe that detergents underly most eczema in infants with atopy.

As I mention on the solveeczema web site, noted pediatrician author Dr. T. Berry Brazelton points out in his book Touchpoints that he could PREVENT VIRTUALLY ALL INFANTILE ECZEMA if he identified parents with an allergic history and had parents take certain steps, primary among them using only soaps rather than detergents to wash baby’s skin, clothing, and hair.

I have called Dr. Brazelton to thank him for this insight which led to the solution to our son’s eczema and now for so many other people who have used the solveeczema.org site. He told me he found no research on this issue in his day, he realized the connection from years of clinical practice.

My hat goes off to Dr. Brazelton. Given the meticulous round-the-clock observations my husband and I had to make to solve this problem — even with the head start of the advice in Touchpoints — I have no idea how anyone could figure this out from the vantage point of an office or clinic. More than that, I have seen how difficult it can be to convince anyone — most especially anyone with a history of allergy — to switch personal care products. Part of Dr. Brazelton’s genius was his ability to convince so many families in his practice to make these kinds of personal product changes.

Today, detergents are far more ubiquitous than in Dr. Brazelton’s day. In my experience, nowadays changing products only for the baby’s laundry, skin, and hair is only partly effective, or maybe not effective at all. Everyone in the household has to switch to non-detergent products. Fortunately, given the connection with atopy, this often alleviates allergies, asthma, and skin problems in one or more of the adults in the household, too.

Thank you Dr. Brazelton!

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And the winner is…

The clear winner of the plant-based soaps I tried from this Drugstore.com order is … Olivella Face and Body Soap. It says it’s 100% olive oil from Italy. The ingredients are: Sodium Olivate (saponified virgin olive oil), water, glycerin, fragrance.

I was pretty skeptical given the short ingredients list, and how drying I have found most castile soaps I’ve tried. For that matter, most plant-based soaps I have tried with a short list of ingredients have been pretty drying. This one was really not bad. I’m guessing it rinses pretty well, because the bar is so susceptible to dissolving in water. The package warns: “DO NOT leave soap in standing water.” It’s so susceptible, I’m wondering how anyone can leave a bar like this in the shower. Never mind, it works well.

But… There’s always a catch, right? Here again, the fragrance. I quickly got used to it (unlike some other soap fragrances) and it doesn’t seem to leave a strong residue of fragrance on the skin. However, the fragrance has a distinct, I would say slightly masculine, European soap smell to it. The scent makes me think of European hotel soap or maybe someone’s dapper Italian grandfather.

They have a web site www.olivellaline.com . The company has baby products and makes a “detergent.” But their “detergent” appears to be made from castile soap. (I do not speak Italian, though – always check with the company!)

At any rate, if I can get this same soap without the fragrance, I will see how it works with the washing test and report back. The lesson from this for me was that soaps from the same basic oil can be very different.

Off Topic – Blue Shield Being Despicable

Please forgive me for a second off-topic post – I just felt I needed to say something.

Blue Shield is behaving worse than despicably to my family in a health care coverage issue that has nothing to do with eczema. (My coverage is through a federal plan, so I do not have the usual recourse through states and state courts, please do not write with suggestions regarding rights I don’t have, it’s too depressing.)

There isn’t much anyone can do – unless you happen to have some superhuman clout at Blue Shield – but I’d ask the following if you want to help:

1) Get involved. Just in general. My situation is just one of millions. We need to fix our health care system, no one should have to go through this.

2) I get so many heartfelt letters of thanks from parents for the site and how it has helped them. In many cases I hear from people whose children had the worst cases of eczema you can imagine, who are able to then live eczema free because of the information.

If you are one of them, please consider sitting down and estimating how much money this solution saves in medical costs annually that your insurance company might otherwise have been on the hook for: doctors’ visits, medications, even hospitalizations. Although you may have more expenses at home in implementing this, for example installing a water softener, insurance doesn’t typically pay for those. However, they do get the benefit of NOT having to pay indefinitely for the medical interventions that you or your child would have otherwise needed had the eczema continued.

Please write to me and tell me about it. I will not use your name, only tally the numbers: X dollars saved in X number of cases. Please contact me through the web site, www.solveeczema.org, through the feedback link on the home page.

I have seen statistics on the average cost of eczema patients’ annual medical care. If I use those numbers, and just the people I know of whose eczema-related medical expenses essentially went to zero after using my site, well, that’s a huge amount of money. But real numbers mean a lot more than statistics.

If my husband and I just had the time we’ve had to spend on this medical paperwork for the last two and half years (to no avail) to spend on this site instead, and the time we’d have saved because of just having the use of our family’s savings which is now essentially wiped out, we could save even just our own insurer many times what they are trying to avoid responsibility for here.

Not that I believe making that argument to them is going to change anything, but I can always hope. At the very least, they need to hear that sometimes they are not just being immoral, they could save more money overall just by doing the right thing.