You don’t need to be dust-free or meticulously clean to be eczema-free. Case in point: my house!

The purpose of this post is primarily to dispel the myth that you need to be dust-free to be free from eczema. Far from it. Removing the sources of detergents in our home brought us the freedom to still have dust, to kick it up when we walk, to have it land on our kids’ skin, even to roll in it, and not have a flare because of it!

In my “Our Story, Part I” I laid out some bullet points of empirical evidence that my friend whose son and self suffer from eczema discovered which primed me to accept the solveeczema explanation as plausible.

The most significant of her discoveries for me was her baby son’s skin would flare if he contacted the household dust. So, the most expeditious solution for her was to keep her house “dust-free” and, to hear her tell it, she was getting rid of dust constantly. She didn’t use a feather duster or otherwise make the dust airborne again but got rid of it. She meticulously wet paper towels and ran them along various household surfaces to collect the dust. She was thorough, even wiping down the tops of large leaves from her household plants!

The possibility that dust could cause or contribute to eczema (as opposed to sneezing, runny nose and asthma — all of which I’ve experienced in reaction to dust) was illogical to me. But I believed her and I accepted what she observed — if only initially as a cause specifically for her son’s eczema. I reasoned I could not definitely conclude otherwise. I couldn’t argue with her — at the time of our discussion, she’d dealt with eczema for 30+ years while I’d wracked up a whopping 8 months of experience.

So, when I read on solveeczema 2 years later the theory that dust is a cause of eczema because of what is on the dust, it was like the clouds parted in the sky and illuminated my world, as my eyes grew large from sudden understanding. My friend’s seemingly strange observation now had a plausible explanation. I readily embraced the solveeczema concept of “detergent dust” and its “unseen exposures”.

Dust is primarily comprised of dead skin cells and, to a lesser extent, clothing lint. We already know the lint from clothing washed in detergents would contain detergent residues. But what about the skin? The proposal on solveeczema is that shed skin particles have on them detergent residues from what was used previously on the skin (i.e. from detergent soaps, moisturizing creams, etc.). So that means dust in a household that uses detergents would contain within it detergent residues. And when this detergent-laden dust lands on the skin of babies and children, it brings detergent residues into contact with their skin even if they haven’t made direct contact with detergent products or detergent-laden fabrics or surfaces. The effect of those deposited detergent residues are especially bad where there are small amounts of water (such as through sweat, drooling, or in the crook of the elbows or behind the knees). Sooner or later, a flare results.

I always tell people (and you only need to come to my house to see for yourself!) that by no means is my house dust-free (or meticulously clean or germ-free, by any stretch). I still have dust in my house because I’m not extremely meticulous about cleaning it up, and its accumulation is very obvious because we have hardwood floors. We vacuum just enough to minimize pollen and animal dander that wafts in through open doors and windows. What still accumulates under my bed, in the corners of my stairs, and on the window sills between vacuums is surprising! The difference now is that my dust doesn’t contain detergent residues in it. I believe that has made a healing difference for my asthma and our daughter’s eczema.

Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canadians and Happy 148th Birthday to my beloved country!