Skin Irritant: 1, Three Year Old: 0….NOT FOR LONG!
I want to share a bit of my son’s story as I finally see some light at the end of the tunnel and maybe it will help you too. Very long story short (not really)…my almost 4 year old son has been experiencing severe skin issues for the past 2 years. It’s been diagnosed as eczema and seems to get worse when it’s hot and humid outside and it also gets exacerbated by other things (which we have been trying to figure out the triggers for over a year). I have read multiple articles that sympathize with us and basically say it’s really hard to determine triggers but I think we finally have a potential winner. For anyone that struggles with eczema or has kids that do, you know how frustrating it gets!
After numerous skin prick tests and elimination processes, we did find out he has some standard allergies (cats, dogs, dust, ragweed, grass….yeah, pretty much all the things little boys love). He takes an OTC allergy medicine daily and it does help with sneezing, itchy eyes, and runny nose but nothing has stopped the skin irritations. We support healthy skin with ointments and oils but just when we think we have it under control, it comes back worse. We have even purchased air purifiers in our home and changed out all our detergents and his shampoos/body wash to free and clear brands (I’ve listed what we use below). His dermatologist finally decided to do patch testing on him to see if we can pinpoint something specific.
Well, I had no idea what patch testing was and couldn’t find anyone who has had it done. So it was a little scary for a 3 year old but he did awesome! It started with him getting 50 tests/patches on his back on a Monday. He had to keep them on until Wednesday and the dermatologist checked for irritations. He had to go back on Friday to see if anything else became irritated. The hardest part of the whole process was not getting them wet! So, no baths for a week in the middle of August for an active 3 year was not fun, but we managed.
What did we find out? By Wednesday, one patch stood out as an irritant…drumroll, please…. Methylisothiazolinone (MI for short). Say what?!?! Apparently it’s in a lot of shampoos, cosmetics, detergents, etc. and is a very common allergen. Google it…I had no idea! So the dermatologist’s first question was what do we use on him. Luckily, over the past 2 years of issues, we only use what was recommended by our dermatologist on him and after checking, they DON’T contain MI. Whew… So then how is he coming in contact with it? Our detergent? Nope, we changed that too. He then asked what shampoo my husband and I use….there you have it! Both of our shampoos have MI but I couldn’t imagine it was what was causing his issues. Then I started thinking…our routine is that I usually shower as they are winding down with my husband before bed. Then I will lay with my son for 10 minutes or so as he falls asleep. This means, my hair is wet and freshly shampooed and I never re-wash my hands after a shower. So, I’m on his pillow and he always likes when I ‘tickle’ his hair or face which seems to put him to sleep. Well, where have his biggest irritations been…his face and scalp! No! I’ve been doing this my son? I know, I had no idea and can’t blame myself but wow, I never would have thought my shampoo would irritate his skin.
We went back for his check-up on Friday and the MI mark was still irritated and now 3 more allergens surfaced: Bacitracin, Fragrance Mix I, and Bronopol. So, where do we go from here? Well, we just found this out today so we’re just starting to work on this. I’m obviously going to get a new shampoo/conditioner and be sure to check every label we use around the house. I will keep you posted in a few weeks if it seems we’ve actually pinpointed the main trigger and how we’re managing. The doctor did say if we are very diligent it will still take 6-8 weeks to get it out of his system. The good news is that A LOT of what we are using for him already is clear of Methylisothiazolinone but you have to look in places you didn’t even think, like dish soap! As you know from my other posts, I use Young Living Essential Oils and a lot of their household and beauty products. So I immediately looked into their products and to my joy, they DON’T use it any of the products we use in our house AND they even specifically call it out on the product flyer for their Thieves Dish Soap. I’m sure I saw this disclaimer when I bought the soap but didn’t think twice about it! Well, it just makes me that much happier to and confident with their products!
So, I’ll update you in a few weeks and let you know if we’ve seen a difference (I pray we will). I can’t believe he’s struggled with this for so long and turns out to be an allergy to something that shouldn’t even be in products! One big red flag I’ve noticed is that a lot of products (specifically cleaning products) didn’t even put the ingredients on their label and I had to go to the internet to find it! All I know now, is I will read EVERY label and buy our household products from a trusted source that discloses the ingredients on labels (like Young Living)!
Products we use that DON’T contain Methylisothiazolinone
- Exederm Non-Irritating Baby Shampoo
- Exederm Cleansing Baby Bath
- Vaniply Ointment
- Vanicream Sunscreen (has been AMAZING for our kids over the past 2 summers)
- Young Living Products – including Thieves Dish Soap, Thieves Laundry Soap, Lavender Hand & Body Lotion, Lavender Body Wash…and the list goes on and on!