When I was first asked this question, I immediately thought of eczema, psoriasis, Lichen planus – very similar visually – or a reaction to a chemical in clothes might be the cause. Then I looked at a web site where there are close to fifty different common skin ailments listed. So, if you go to your doctor, who of course is floundering unless he/she is a genius and then quickly refers you to a dermatologist whose knowledge often goes little beyond prescribing cortisone in many countries, you have wasted quite a lot of time – with no outcome.
I am one who suffers from one of these “unexplained” skin problems. It started about three years ago after I had bought a pair of socks from a low cost sports store. My wife washed the socks, at least three times, which is the minimum recommendation of responsible clothes and usable material manufacturers, including towels. Almost immediately I put these socks on I got a rash on my ankles. When winter came all hell broke loose with unbridled irritation, made worse by the heat of thicker socks and with no response to any of the things I thought might work. I tried creams of all genres – soothing, antiseptic, chemical, natural, you name it – and upped my Serrapeptase intake, knowing that my Strong version deals with the more common problems, usually quite quickly. Still no joy. I manage to keep it under control these days with a hand cream. I have no idea what is the ingredient of the dozen or more listed on the tube that is effective, but something is. But nothing gets rid of it.
Where do these problems come from? As there are so many chemicals loose in our lives today, the chance of pinning them down is worse than looking for a needle in a haystack. A quick browse of what is done to materials used in clothes in attempts to be “one up” on the competition shows that their activities are in vain. The Swedes did a test on a number of items to see if the anti-bacterial, anti odour – or in fact anti anything treatments made any difference. And their conclusions state that In the U.S., where the use of antibacterial substances is even more common than in Europe, such substances can be regularly found in the blood of the majority of the population (10, see e.g. tables for Triclosan and disinfection bi-products). Antibacterial substances can trigger allergies (7) and can be toxic for the environment (11). The bit that frightens me is that these toxic substances are quickly and easily absorbed.
One of these toxins is Triclosan. According to one study “ The use of triclosan is linked to the following effects on human health: Abnormal endocrine system/thyroid hormone signaling. Weakening of immune system. Children exposed to antibacterial products at an early age have an increased chance of developing allergies, asthma and eczema.” Another toxin, formaldehyde, commonly used to make clothes look fresh in the packet, is often way above any recommended limit for our health – the Chinese producers of course topping the list. This is another case where the manufacturers do not have to say what has been done to the material in its production. Formaldehyde is cancerous in the extreme. But, along the way methylene oxide or methylaldehyde to use just two of the other names for this toxin, is a wicked skin irritant. And it will not go away; it is very much like something from science fiction; once in – always there.
So, how can we avoid these noxious products? The quick answer is that we cannot. However, by taking a little care in what we buy we can try to reduce our exposure to them. Avoid the “Made In China” or Made in RPC” – same thing – label. Look for European produced clothes if possible, where the rules are a little tighter. Portugal makes some wonderful things – their towels are the best in the world. But whatever you buy, wash it, several times, before putting it near your skin. After ten washes the Swedes still found traces of treatments in the clothes they tested.
In the old days when we had problems, we used to say “it’ll all come out in the wash”. Regrettably that is no longer true.
John Osborne is a self-trained Naturopath with over 35 years of experience. Of an engineering formation, he looks at the root causes of people’s problems to discover the “why” rather than the “visible”. Using all forms of a natural approach, John includes phototherapy, homeopathy and aromatherapy among the means of aiding people to find a solution to their problems. John is not a doctor, so cannot diagnose, but works with the leading authorities in the world on the natural ways to cure serious illness.. His advice is given free and he is readily contactable via his website Remede Naturel.