Science News

Childhood Eczema Increase Due to Soap

Sat, 25th May 2002

Part of the show What is a Virus and How do Viruses Cause Disease - Stacey Efstathiou

Today 6 times as many children have the itchy skin condition eczema compared with 50 years ago, and doctors at Sheffield University are blaming soap. Dermatologist Dr. Michael Cork has found that rocketing sales of soaps, shower gels, bubble bath and shampoo and especially alcohol-impregnated baby-wipes have co-incided with the increase in childhood eczema. The researchers think apart from removing dirt these detergent-rich products also strip off protective fats from the skin surface, causing the skin cells to shrink so that irritants and allergens can get between them. Dr. Cork suggests that we must take care when getting clean, particularly those of us with a family history of eczema. To prevent eczema he suggests minimising use of soaps and shower gels and sticking to emollient or moisturiser-based products. [ J. Dermatology in Practice 2002]

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