With an eye on the food allergy community as a unique group of consumers since 2008, we're on a quest to find and share ways to continue enjoying the good things in life.

26 October 2009

Eczema Talk: In Search of Soap and Detergent

I am hoping to pick the brains of others dealing with eczema and food allergies.

My 6 year old son is allergic to peanuts and has mild to moderate eczema isolated usually to the area behind his knees. I have been using Seventh Generation Free and Clear Laundry Detergent and occasionally Tide Free. I generally do not use soap or shampoo on him in the bath. Once in a while, we will use Dove Body Wash for sensitive skin. Yet, those spots behind the knees continue to bother him and he frequently wakes up itchy during the night.

Based on the kids' laundry, I have the impression that Seventh Generation does not remove stains as well as Tide. I'd love to get some recommendations for other products. What laundry detergents and bath soaps do you use? Which ones have worked well and which ones haven't worked for you? I look forward to reading your comments!


Lynn said...

Hi - we use All Free & Clear, because it seemed so universally recommended on allergy boards I read when my son's eczema was REALLY bad. We use Cerave cream cleanser for the bath (it feels like a lotion - very moisturizing), and the Cerave tub cream afterwards. (We were instructed to put it on many times a day very thickly when he's really having a flare-up, but we haven't had to do that in a year). For shampoo and conditioner, we use California Baby Super Sensitive brand. Although, my 2 year old son has some weird hair issue lately (dark brown cradle cap type stuff), so I've switched back to what we used when he had bad infant cradle cap - Neutragena T-gel. I'll be honest... I love these products and won't dare use anything else, but when my son has flare ups, I go right to the heavy medication creams from his old dermatologist for a day or two and that gets rid of it. If your son is itchy, I'd go to a pediatric dermatologist, and if the cream doesn't work, I'd ask them for a stronger one... we did that about 5 times before we got a strong enough one, and now we use it about once/month. Believe me, I am not AT ALL medication-crazy, but... well, I could go on all day, but this is what I think works best for us.

Lynn said...

Well, this is from 2005, and I have NO IDEA if it is true, but... holy cow: http://allergicliving.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=798

Lynn said...

(PS -- You don't need to post this comment if you don't want to but I used those bars on my tree nut allergic son when he was an infant. Grrrr).

persephone said...

My son has peanut allergy & eczema in the same spot, too... I'm not sure why his has been milder lately, it might be something we're doing or we might just be lucky. I'm also starting to wonder how much it's affected by diet vs. skin irritants. It seemed like when we eliminated traces of nuts from his diet, not just nuts themselves, he started to itch dramatically less - but he does still get flareups once in a while.

Anyway, we use All Free & Clear. I don't know if it's the best at cleaning clothes, but if something looks like a tough stain I pretreat it, and then just add an extra rinse cycle. Actually, I've heard it's not only what's in the detergent, but how much detergent is left in the clothes - so an extra rinse is a good thing to try no matter what.

For his skin we use Cetaphil, but I think Dove might be equally mild. But here again, I've heard it's not just what you use in the bath, but what you do afterward. The best thing is to use a thick ointment right after the bath, while his skin is actually still damp, so it seals the moisture into his skin. A lotion that disappears into the skin won't work; you need something that sits on top of it and makes a barrier - we use Aquaphor. We just slather all the spots that tend to get itchy, after every bath.

You may know all this already, in which case I apologize for going on and on. The answer to your actual questions: All Free & Clear and Cetaphil. (and Aquaphor.) :)

Liz said...

We've used Tide free and Cheer free (both HE) with very good luck. Also, no fabric softener of any kind.

As for bath time, we use J&J all over body wash (no more tears - the basic one). My daughter is almost 3 and we still use that. Though now, we use my conditioner (whatever I happen to have at the moment, right now it's Pantene).

I know we had to attack the eczema by using tide/cheer and no fabric softener, plus creams. It has gotten better on its own lately, so hopefully it will improve.

Unknown said...

My 4-year-old gets mild eczema inside her elbows. We use California Baby Super Sensitive shampoo (carried in the baby section of our local Target) for her hair and body. I use Cheer Free for the laundry. These products have helped a lot, but she still gets an occasional flare-up.

Unknown said...

We use Tide free and Bounce Free. 20 years ago we used Cheer Free and nothing in the dryer. 100% cotton clothing, sheets, blankets, etc. made a huge difference when my guys were little. Sometimes I did have to use cortisone cream. Good news is that it got much better with age.

Unknown said...

Also, back then we switched to neutrogena fragrance free soap and Eucerin cream.

Col said...

We use Cheer Free. I can't say whether it works as well as Tide on stains, but I like it because it's not itchy and doesn't fade the clothes.

For the bath, Dove body bar or plain old glycerin soap (the translucent kind) are both very gentle, if soap is needed at all. Try adding a quarter cup of kosher salt to the bath to "soften" the water. That will help his skin retain moisture.

Eagle Loft said...

My little guy has food allergies to wheat, dairy, eggs, oats and soy. He also has eczema that comes and goes behind the backs of his knees. He had allergic reactions to several detergents and moisturizers, so we now stick with what we know doesn't cause him problems. Here's what he uses:

Handsoap: Method liquid soap
Bath soap and shampoo: none
Washer detergent: 7th Generation Free & Clear (always with extra rinse cycle)
Fabric softeners & bleach: none
Moisturizer: Moisturel

We moisturize him twice a day in summer, three times or more per day in winter or his eczema gets much worse.

Kathy said...

We use Charlie's Soap

persephone said...

Oh, I used to love California Baby! But they changed the formula of the one we used to use, it's MUCH thinner, and now it feels like it runs right off my hand before I can get it on the boy. Oh well.

We're still trying out shampoos since then. None of them are fragrance-free, but I don't worry about it as much as what I use on his skin. I just wait till the end of the bath to rinse it out, so he's not soaking in the shampoo suds.

I should mention that we're using Cetaphil wash - NOT Cetaphil cream, which contains nut oils.

My jaw is still open about nut oils in Dove.

Slacmc said...

My daughter has ultra sensitive skin and we have found the following to work:

Bath: Aveeno creamy wash; California Baby Shampoo and conditioner

Laundry: Tide Free and Clear or Dreft an extra rinse cycle and NO fabric softener or bleach. I do sometimes use vinegar in the place of fabric softener which helps to soften the clothes and remove the chemicals that are in new clothes. For stains I try to pretreat with vinegar. If I end up using anything stronger, I wash the clothes twice. Nothing in the dryer.

We do try to use a lot of green products when cleaning around the house. My daughter has had terrible reactions to many basic cleaning supplies. We use a lot of baking soda, vinegar, and castile soap.

Good luck. It is very trial and error.

Lynn said...

You probably know this too, but since the cold weather is coming I thought I'd add that 100% cotton clothing is recommended... none of those cute polyester fleece jammies.

Catherine said...

Hi, My son has many allergens food and non food.

I've tried just about every laundry soap they make. We now use - Biokleen Free & Clear Laundry Powder

Bath Soap - Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar - we used the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser liquid soap when he was younger

Hope that helps!



persephone said...

Infant Bibliophile, we swear by 100% cotton clothing too, but when desperate (it gets freezing at my in-laws!) we just make sure to keep cotton next to his skin. Cotton pajamas layered under a fleece sleeper seems to be okay, at least once in a while.

We layer cotton pj bottoms under his pants during the day, too. It's the only way we could figure of keeping his legs warm, without poly-blend sweatpants or fleece...

Katie said...

Have you tried an antihistamine?

My son has excema, but no food allergies, and an antihistamine was recommended by his allergist. Seemed to clear up or lessen bad cases of it behind his knees...

We use California Baby for his hair and probably only about once a week for soap or bubble bath..

suz said...

I use Tide Free and Bounce Free and both work fine for me. I've had those same problems my whole life, and I don't like medicated creams so I use lotion before any flare-ups can start. Lately, I've found Gold Bond Ultimate Healing Body Lotion with Aloe really works without being too greasy.

Good luck!

Unknown said...

It's a small fortune, but during bad eczema flare-ups, I use Dreft laundry detergent. No fabric softener or bleach. Johnson's Baby shampoo for hair and as a body soap works fine. Of course Aquaphor is slathered on all "hot-spots" within minutes following a shower.

ZM said...

Little to add, happy to join the chorus.

We've used Tide HE (perfume-free, dye-free) for years now, and go back and forth between that and the 7th Generation perfume-free, dye-free laundry detergent.

No fabric softener, and no dryer sheets, although I did get some re-useable anti-static things for the dryer. Winter is major static season for us!

Warm baths, letting the kid soak, Cetaphil soap for skin and hair, and of course, the barely-patted dry, quick slather-em-up approach afterwards. We've used Vanicreme lotion for a couple of years, and I'll mix in a dollop of .5% or 1% hydracortisone if needed.

But. Given that eczema is a beyotch, it's really hard to pick out the actual trigger. Could be weather (too humid? too dry?) aggravating the situation. Could be a bit of seasonal allergy. A virus, triggering an eczema flare. Etc.

We adapted the boys' diet, soaps, baths, cleaning the house, and watched things improve. And I have to wonder whether putting them on a daily dose of antihistamine is what finally brought the eczema the rest of the way under our control.

Anonymous said...

100% Cotton, loose fitting clothing, Cetaphil soap, J& J baby shampoo, baths not more than every other day, pat dry and apply aquaphor ointment after any hydrocortisone or other dr prescribed ointments for flare-ups. Antihistamines also help for the itching. All free and clear detergent is great. And humidifiers in the winter especially! Good Luck. As my dermatologist said eczema is like a forest fire - a little wind to intensify it and a whole lot of work to put it out!!!

Cure Eczema said...

we use Method liquid soap and no bath soap or shampoo at all. No fabric softener, no bleach.

Zach Smith said...

I suggest using a hypoallergenic liquid detergent. A little bit of it goes a long way especially if you have a front load washer. You can try doing an extra rinse cycle to further remove soap residues.


Anonymous said...

Cetaphil has macadamia nuts in it, can worsen any skin/allergy issues

Unknown said...

Even i would like to use or go for the products that are natural and are manufactured by using little amount of chemicals. Time2gonatural has brought such Organic Laundry Products, which are chemical free and good for any type skin.

Megan Wood said...

I've seen a comment about anti-histamines and just to let ya'll know if you have a kid with soy allergy is that most (if not all) of name brand allergy meds or anti-histamines have soy in them.