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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Allergies link to harsh soaps

14th June 2007

A rise in allergic diseases is being blamed on over-use of harsh soaps and abrasive skin care products.

Work by the University College of London’s Institute of Child Health has reached the conclusion that using the products too often strips away a protective layer of skin.

They believe that there is little evidence to support the “hygiene hypothesis? of people being too clean resulting in the immune system becoming too sensitive to infection as a main cause of the increases, but that there is the more specific cause of the layer of skin being eroded.

Writing in the journal Trends in Immunology, they say it is this that could make people more vulnerable to an allergic disease.

Researcher Professor Robin Callard said many strong soaps, beauty products and biological washing powders were all capable of stripping away the protective outer layer of skin, allowing allergy-causing particle to penetrate the skin.

The research revealed that this layer was weaker in people with a rare genetic skin disease who develop eczema or other allergies.

Professor John Harper, who also worked on the study, stressed there was nothing to fear from normal standards of hygiene and washing habits.

Margaret Cox, of the National Eczema Society, said: “Because soap and biological detergents de-grease the skin, if you are genetically predisposed to eczema you would be well advised to avoid using such products and switch to less abrasive and more nourishing emollients.?

Rates of eczema have risen three-fold in the UK in the last 30 years.


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