Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Allergic to 'Poo

You guys are already familiar with all the major health problems that I've experienced over the past half year, but guess what?  I got a new one for you, but this one has actually been resolved.

For a while now (months) I've been contending with swollen lips, swollen eyelids, and rashes around both as well as excessively dry skin on my face and I was losing hand fulls of hair a day.  The eyelid stuff aged me about 10 years or so and I got to where I was hiding in my house because I looked so awful.  Makeup only made everything worse because it looked all cakey when applied over the rashes and dried skin.  Now, as a general rule, Southern women don't leave the house without makeup.  So, me?  Go without makeup?  Not happenin'.  I was looking hideous.  To make things worse, we have an incredibly high deductible on our health insurance, so I couldn't afford to go to a doc to find out what the heck was wrong with me.

About a week ago, I went to a meeting and a woman looked at me and said  "You have exactly what my sister had.  She's allergic to hair products."    Wow!  An actual lead to what might be affecting me.  I rushed home and dove into the internet.  I love me some internetz! 

I did tons of research on what the most common allergens are in hair products that affect people. Whoa.  While searching I found quite a few pics online that showed the kind of rashes that I was having.  

The culprit?  Cocamidopropyl Betaine.  What is this mouthful?  A surfactant used in 99.9% of shampoos on the market. It's also used in hand soaps, face washes, dishwashing liquids, hair color etc.  Basically, if you look at the ingredients list of any type of liquid soap, you're going to find it in the list. 

I went up to my bathroom and went through every product that I had been using.  Face wash with it?  check.  Shampoo?  check.  Hand soap? check.  Bubble bath? check.   Hair color?  check.  It gets worse.  You know that oh so "gentle" baby wash that my kids still use?  Yep.  In there as well.

So I went cold turkey on all these products to see if my hunch was correct.  I noticed a huge difference immediately.  My face rash started clearing up.  I noticed less hair falling out.  My scalp itched less. 

If I had any wonder about whether this was really the problem or not, I found out last weekend.  My husband bathed our dog at my parents house and used Dove shampoo to do it.  I didn't think anything about this until after I had played with the dog.  Within a few hours my face started getting itchy and red and by the next morning my eyes were almost swollen shut.

Now I and my family have to undergo a lifestyle change.  For me, the shampoo issue is not a big deal.  I have coarse, really curly hair that thrives on just conditioner, but for everyone else?  Now I have to find an alternative for them which means more endless hours on the net trying to find something that doesn't have that chemical in it.  Right now, I can't even help the little one take a bath nor can I kiss them good night after they've taken a bath.  Not acceptable.  Anyone have any suggestions for a replacement?

I replaced the dish soap with Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap and will be using this to replace all the hand soap in the house and to wash the dog with.  All Free & Clear Laundry detergent doesn't seem to be bothering me, but I'll be changing it soon anyway just to be safe. The only ingredient listed on that bottle?  Surfactants.  Gee, thanks for the info.

So, I saved myself about $6000 on allergy tests, which is wonderful, but now anything liquid and soapy can cause me severe problems.  I'm starting to wonder if this issue isn't what caused many of the health problems that I've been having for the past half year.  I haven't felt this well in oh so long.  I'm thrilled to have finally pegged at least one of my health problems down. 

You'd have laughed at me last night.  I put on gloves ( I even considered renting a hasmat suit) and walked around the house throwing away anything that had either the Cocamidopropyl Betaine in it or anything that had Coca in the ingredients list.  Overkill?  Not in my book.  It will be at least a month before my skin gets all the way back to normal, maybe longer.  I'm taking no more chances.
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