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 What Doctors Don't Tell You: Eczema - A sign of toxic times 
What Doctors Don't Tell You © (Volume 16, Issue 5)

Even the water you use to wash your dishes and clothes could be making your eczema worse. UK researchers investigating eczema in schoolchildren found that it was significantly more prevalent in the hardest-water areas (Lancet, 1998; 352: 527-31). It is thought that the high calcium and magnesium content of hard water could either act as a skin irritant in itself, or interact with other chemicals to break down the skin’s defences and allow the invasion of toxins.

And if you’re thinking that a pair of rubber gloves could protect your skin from this chemical onslaught, think again.

Contact with rubber products is commonly associated with eczema. These flare-ups can be seen, with increasing prevalence, in healthcare workers who frequently wear tight-fitting latex gloves for hygienic reasons, as well as in atopic patients who have undergone multiple surgical operations (Rev Prat, 2002; 52: 1420-3). Eczema develops either as an allergic reaction to the natural latex proteins found in the material or as an adverse side-effect to irritant chemicals that have been added to the latex during manufacturing. Skin reactions to latex vary from the relatively mild (itching, slight redness) to the more serious (burning sensations, hives).

If you have to come into contact with chemical cleaners or products, you could substitute rubber gloves with ones made from vinyl or other non-latex materials.

Food Moving on from the kitchen sink, we can usually find cupboards packed with victuals and provisions to satisfy your family’s appetite - as well as an arsenal of eczema-provoking allergens.

Intolerance to certain types of food has long been recognised to be a major cause of eczema - in particular, the atopic form. Common culprits include dairy, soy, eggs, wheat and shellfish. Avoiding these foods is easy enough once you’ve identified the ones to which you’re allergic.

However, much of what we buy at the supermarket these days, even those claiming to have ‘nutritional value’, are chock-full of artificial flavours, preservatives and colours that worsen eczema. Food-allergy studies noted skin and/or intestinal reactions in people with atopic eczema to tartrazine dye, sodium benzoate and sodium metabisulphite preservatives (Clin Exp Allergy, 2001; 31: 265-73), and the flavour-enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG) (J Allergy Clin Immunol, 1997; 99: 757-62).

Among these additives, tartrazine - alias E102 - is a particular menace. This synthetic orange-yellow colouring is considered one of the most aggressive allergens of all the azo dyes and, worryingly, it has infiltrated a vast number of food and beverages - such as coloured fizzy drinks, fruit squashes, cake mixes, custard powder, soups, sauces, ice cream, sweets, jam and mustard. It’s also found in cough syrups and in the capsules containing medicines. Simply avoiding orange/yellow foods may not be enough as tartrazine is sometimes mixed with blue to produce various greens to enhance, for example, tinned peas.

Aside from eczema, other known reactions to tartrazine include migraine headaches, blurred vision, hyperactivity in children, and worsening of other atopic conditions often found with eczema such as asthma and a constant runny nose.

It’s not only processed foods you need to watch out for. Whole, natural foods like fruit and vegetables are likely to sport a coat of pesticides that could spell trouble to hypersensitive people. A high prevalence of both allergic and irritant contact eczema has been found in rural populations and among agricultural workers (Sangyo Igaku, 1987; 29: 3-16; Dermatol Monatsschr, 1989; 175: 203-14).

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What Doctors Don't Tell You What Doctors Don’t Tell You is one of the few publications in the world that can justifiably claim to solve people's health problems - and even save lives. Our monthly newsletter gives you the facts you won't......more
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