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Are “eco-friendly” herbicidal soaps as innocuous as they sound?

Regular readers of my blog know that I’m convinced that synthetic detergents are a largely unrecognized cause of eczema and are implicated as a likely environmental toxin that has contributed to the increase in rate of chronic allergic manifestations like asthma and food allergy (by its involvement in eczema). When my family learned to differentiate true soap from detergents and removed detergents from our household personal care and cleaning products, we saw dramatic health changes with respect to allergies. This included both kids’ eczema clearing without any further need for steroids or constant moisturizing, my asthma clearing without drugs, and my chronic dry skin healing. (See Part II of Our Story: Results After Switching to Soap).

This experience prompted me to re-evaluate every product I used to think was safe, and to read product claims and labels written by marketing people with a much more critical mind. Even a decade before I had found solveeczema, I was concerned that standard herbicides, most commonly containing glyphosate and 2,4-D, were possibly carcinogenic. (See my post The Temptation to Spray for more background). So, many years ago before I found solveeczema and became convinced that detergents are causing more ills to all living things on the earth than most of us have realized, I saw alternative herbicidal products on the shelf labelled “herbicidal soap” — and thought they might be less toxic than those containing glyphosate and 2,4-D. After all, “soap” sounds innocuous. It’s what we use on our skin, right?

My First Experience with an “Herbicidal Soap” Product

A few years before I found solveeczema, I purchased an “herbicidal soap” product. It was intended to be a replacement to a glyphosate-containing herbicide and I wanted to use it to kill weeds on my paths and among the landscaping rocks on the sides of my house leading to the backyard. I hoped it would do the job without being quite as toxic. It did indeed cause all the weeds growing among the paths and rocks to shrivel up and die.

The summer that we implemented the solveeczema detergent removal, I started becoming more cautious about what I was applying to my yard for weed control. Faced again with the weed problem among my rock paths and on my lawn, I looked through my small collection of varied bottles of weed killer and happened again upon the herbicidal soap I’d used in seasons passed. Because of my experience using the solveeczema website and reading countless labels in search of safe, non-detergent products, I knew that products labelled “soap” do often signify detergents, that “natural” doesn’t have a standard or meaningful definition, and that “less toxic” doesn’t necessarily mean harmless. I had to examine the ingredients more closely to know for sure.

My bottle said ingredients were “ammonium soaps of fatty acids”. To my best knowledge, this is another name for a quaternary ammonium compound. (For a quick step-through of my logical rationale for this, which would bore most people, see the footnote at the end of this post). I’ve blogged about these compounds before — they were the seeming cause of a chemical burn experienced by a child in Ontario from a disinfectant used in his school washrooms. These compounds are nicknamed “quats”, and are very strong detergents. The Wikipedia entry on quaternary ammonium compounds indicates they are detergents and highlights their efficacy as antimicrobials. The section on health effects is both fascinating and frightening.

Concerning Symptoms Reported to Health Canada

Even just based on the active ingredient in these “herbicidal soaps”, I would have concluded they’re probably not innnocuous. But don’t take my word for it. Just Google a alternative name for the active ingredient I found on my bottle — “ammonium salt of fatty acids” — and one of the early search results is a summary of Incident Reports on the Consumer Product Safety section of Health Canada’s website. These are presumably incident reports that the manufacturer of products with active ingredient “ammonium salt of fatty acids” have received from the general public, and have reported to Health Canada.

Reading these incident reports is like reading a “who’s who” of “familiar reactions I’ve seen in my own and others’ children in reaction to detergents”. In reading through the reports, we have several people who accidentally made skin contact with the product and reported symptoms varying in severity, but mostly involving red, irritated skin, rash, itching, and in a few cases, something approximating a burn. The symptoms were bad enough that physicians were consulted in some cases. Most of the reports of skin irritation were made around 2 days after contact, and in general took anywhere from 2-5 days to get better. One person reported she developed a cough while applying the product which spontaneously stopped once she left the application area, but started again when she re-entered the application area. Unfortunately, this caller was told that these symptoms could be experienced by “sensitive individuals” who can react to the “perceived aroma of herbicides and pesticides” with respiratory irritation. I don’t believe this to be correct, because, much like my theory of why my own asthma has been impacted by detergents, I think this caller was probably experiencing respiratory irritation caused by the inhaled detergent increasing the permeability of the lung membrane and increasing allergen penetration into the lungs, thus causing inflammation, irritation or wheezing. Nothing to do with “perceived aroma of herbicide”. What kind of pseudo-fakey-fake answer is that?

Perhaps most concerning, though, was a report from a mother about her son who was helping her apply the herbicidal product. Within 2 days, he developed hives and a rash from “head to toe”, as well as itchy eyes. He was brought to a physician who said his reaction indicated an allergic response to some unknown antigen. Symptoms persisted for 3-4 days. The caller was told this was an “unexpected response” to the product, but knowing what I know about detergents, I think his response was completely within the realm of reasonable expectation. It is unfortunate that this mother was told otherwise, and that at time of routine callback, the mother was still not sure what could have caused such an extreme reaction.

I am not surprised at the type of reactions these people reported, and I don’t think these symptoms are “in their head”. These reactions are consistent with what we’d hypothesize from understanding the solveeczema theory and what someone like me, who has seen what my children’s skin did when we were surrounded by detergents in our home environment vs. how their skin healed by itself and without ongoing drug intervention when detergents were removed from our environment, would guess would happen.

Conclusion: They’re Not As Harmless As They Sound!

My conclusion is that this is another example of how detergents really are everywhere, they affect every sphere of our lives. We must be cautious, careful, and critical in what we choose to use and surround ourselves with. While these compounds may arguably be safer than compounds that are carcinogenic, I don’t believe that these are innocuous by any means. They may not be as toxic, but they are toxic nonetheless, and, I believe, cause harm. Use with caution, or better yet, find natural or mechanical methods for dealing with weed growth or insect manifestations that do not require chemical spraying.

Footnote:


See the Wikipedia entry on ammonium where it indicates ammonium is a general name for quaternary ammonium cations, and later indicates the ammonium cation is “found in a variety of salts” in the Ammonium Salts section.

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Dandelion on My Lawn (c) Julie Leung

The Temptation to Spray

I have been battling with dandelions for nearly 20 years, since I first became a homeowner. My approach has evolved over the decades from unreservedly and liberally using herbicides to various shades of manually managing them by pulling, mowing, or otherwise “natural” methods of controlling them. We moved to our current house when my son was a baby and have mostly tried to control the dandelion weed population by natural methods here.

Over the years, I have amassed many different dandelion pulling gadgets, but this one, handed down to me by family friends of my parents, remains the simplest and typically most effective.
Over the years, I have amassed many different dandelion pulling gadgets, but this one, handed down to me by family friends of my parents, remains the simplest and typically most effective.

Every year, I struggle with the temptation to spray the lawn and be done with it. And every year, I instead opt to try something new in my quest to manage my dandelion problem without using harsh herbicides. This reluctance is shared by a growing number of people, as we discover that the “quick and easy” chemical solutions our parents were sold on actually have underlying and often long-standing and extensive consequences or that “Better Living Through Chemistry” is not always true. My journey to this conviction was no different.

What’s My Problem With Herbicides?

2,4-D and glyphosate are arguably the most commonly-used herbicides (marketed under a number of trade names). 2,4-D is commonly used for dandelion control because it is selective to broadleaf weeds but leaves grass alone. The mechanism of action for 2,4-D is death caused by uncontrolled growth. Um, that’s basically the definition of cancer. The mechanism of action for glyphosate is inhibition of the synthesis of 3 amino acids which are needed for protein synthesis and synthesis of compounds necessary for cell replication and metabolism: very basically, inhibition of processes necessary for life.

Yet, the research is contradictory. Even amongst international agencies, there is disagreement. In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably” carcinogenic to humans and 2,4-D as “possibly” carcinogenic to humans. Other branches of the WHO later ruled (2016) that glyphosate is unlikely to cause cancer in humans through diet, and the EPA had earlier (2007) ruled that existing data do not show a link between 2,4-D and cancer. There are also arguments that these compounds affect plant biochemical pathways only and don’t have the same effects on mammals. Fair enough. But not having the same effects does not necessarily mean not having any adverse effects.

My thought process about the dangers of herbicidal sprays is much simpler and goes something like this:

Stated simply, something that does not naturally occur in nature and significantly alters the biochemical pathways of a living thing to the extent that the living thing is killed, cannot be good for humans.

When I look through the discoveries made even in the past 40 years, for example, time and again we have discovered that something we once thought was safe and had no effect, actually has long-standing and serious consequences for animal populations and ultimately us. Look at what we have discovered about PCBs, DDT, and Dioxins. About pesticides we once thought only impacted animals (and who cares about them, right? sigh) but had no deleterious effects on humans. About the impact on aquatic life (and, if you follow my blog, ultimately on humans too!) of seemingly harmless compounds like detergents and phosphates. About all the things that work in fine balance in our ecosystem, that are disrupted when even just one thin arm of that ecosystem is taken out. And in my specific case, given my convictions about the negative and largely unrecognized effects of detergents, I am particularly hesitant to spray herbicides because they often contain detergents to break the surface tension of the liquid and help spread the spray.

And Yet, I’m Still Tempted to Spray

After having said all that, I admit that I am still tempted to spray. Every year, at around this time when the dandelions are at their busiest; when I spend an hour of back-breaking (literally, my back and knees ache after I’m done) work picking dandelions, and come back the next morning to discover even more dandelions have now flowered, like I made absolutely no dent in them; when I dig a big, thick dandelion and discover an indentation in the ground where it is growing and realize I’ve dug this same one year over year and it made no long-lasting difference; when I stand up after an hour thinking “that’s enough for now, I need to move on with my day” and can still see dozens of untouched dandelion bodies that haven’t flowered yet; when I finish in the front yard and then realize I still need to tackle the back yard; when everyday in May and early June my precious spare time is spent digging dandelions rather than tending my garden, writing my blog, or enjoying time with my children; when I cannot shake the growing feeling that I’ve been doing this “natural thing” all wrong and am probably making the dandelion problem worse with my actions … I am tempted to spray.

So many dandelions on my lawn.  This patch is particularly bad because it was poorly dug up by me in the past.  My heart sinks after I spend an hour meticulously pulling weeds only to see several more flower the next day.
So many dandelions on my lawn. This patch is particularly bad because it was poorly dug up by me in the past. My heart sinks after I spend an hour meticulously pulling weeds only to see several more flower the next day.

Maybe I can just spray one year to once and for all kill all the buried taproots, and then go back to my natural solutions, I think. Maybe I can just spray at the end of the season when the kids aren’t on the lawn, I think. Maybe I can just spray the front and never let the kids play on it, relegating them to our backyard, I think. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

This year, I haven’t given into my temptation to spray yet. Like every year past, this year I have decided to step up my natural efforts and, armed with better knowledge, see if this is the year that I will get the advantage over these dandelions in a safe, natural way.

All The Natural Approaches I’ve Tried

Just a recounting of all the approaches I’ve tried in the past is dizzying:

  • Merely plucking the heads off the dandelions so at least they don’t go to seed and spread
  • Mowing frequently so the dandelions don’t get a chance to go to seed
  • Spraying them with various concentrations of vinegar
  • Spraying them with some combination of home-made vinegar, salt and detergent solution
  • Digging them
  • Digging them, filling the indentation with soil, re-seeding with grass
  • Attempting to outcompete the weeds with grass by improving grass health: leaving lawn clippings on the lawn after mowing, re-seeding the entire surface of the lawn with grass seed
  • Spreading corn meal gluten all over the lawn as a pre-emergence treatment (prevents seeds from taking root)
  • Adding fertilizer to the lawn early in the season and at the end of the season in an attempt to strengthen the lawn to outcompete the dandelions
This year, instead of making a homemade vinegar / salt / detergent spray, I thought I would try to boil down leftover pickle juice to make a super-concentrated spray.  Did you know that pickle juice has vinegar and salt, and yes -- even detergents (polysorbate80) in it?  I squirted this into the hole leftover after I picked some dandelions, but I'm not convinced it is strong enough to kill the taproot.  The next day, some of the grass around the dent was yellowed, which tells me it's working on some level -- just maybe not the level I need!
This year, instead of making a homemade vinegar / salt / detergent spray, I thought I would try to boil down leftover pickle juice to make a super-concentrated spray. Did you know that pickle juice has vinegar and salt, and yes — even detergents (polysorbate80) in it? I squirted this into the hole leftover after I picked some dandelions, but I’m not convinced it is strong enough to kill the taproot. The next day, some of the grass around the dent was yellowed, which tells me it’s working on some level — just maybe not the level I need!

I Realized I Was Inadvertently Making the Problem Worse!

This year I’ve been working on my dandelion problem with a bit more knowledge under my belt (both from concepts discussed in our Grow Food Calgary class and reading on my own). That knowledge combined with continuing to see that I’m digging the same old places year after year, and that some of the biggest, most gangly dandelions come out of the same old places, I now actually think my past actions have made the problem worse. Here’s why.

  • When I merely plucked the heads off before they seeded, or relied on mowing to control the dandelion problem, I was actually dead-heading the dandelions. Just like we would dead-head our basil plant to encourage more bushy growth, I was pretty much doing this to my dandelions. No wonder there are many that are just so thick, wide, and have so many flowering heads!
  • When I dug them, I often did not dig deep enough to get the entire taproot out, so in subsequent years, the dandelion came back in the same place, with an increasingly stronger and more extensive taproot to support it
  • When I used homemade sprays or very concentrated vinegar solutions, all I ended up doing was killing the grass around the dandelion too. I don’t think these sprays are strong enough to get to the root to kill it, so I was just leaving a dead spot ready for new dandelion seeds to take root, in addition to the re-emergence of the old plant from the left-over taproot
  • When I dug them and filled the dent with soil and then reseeded grass seed, I filled with very poor quality, dead dirt. It was the cheapest stuff we could find at the store and had big chunks of unbroken woody bits. The fact that I’ve usually left the taproot in the ground and tried to grow grass seed on top of that, and in dead dirt that doesn’t support growth, to boot … is it any wonder this didn’t work?
In the past, I didn't dig deeply enough to get the whole taproot out.  In past years, I thought getting out something like the dandelion on the right was enough, but in fact the taproot goes much deeper, as seen in the dandelion on the left.  I've changed my approach recently, but my I'm disappointed and a little desperate when a dandelion breaks off like on the right, and I know I've left a big root in the ground.
In the past, I didn’t dig deeply enough to get the whole taproot out. In past years, I thought getting out something like the dandelion on the right was enough, but in fact the taproot goes much deeper, as seen in the dandelion on the left. I’ve changed my approach recently, but I’m disappointed and become even a little desperate when a dandelion breaks off like on the right, and I know I’ve left a big root in the ground.

What I’m Trying This Year

So this year I am going to try to actually dig out the full taproot. This takes a lot more time and effort, and many times I worry that I’ve left small branch offshoots or even the very end of the taproot in place. When the root comes out and I see the white latex-like bleeding from parts of the root, my heart sinks. I think there’ll be another dandelion there next year, just hopefully smaller.

A recent pull where I could see the bleeding latex-like substance from the root and know I've left some of the root in the ground and that there will be another dandelion coming up in the same spot next year, just hopefully smaller.
A recent pull where I could see the bleeding latex-like substance from the root and know I’ve left some of the root in the ground and that there will be another dandelion coming up in the same spot next year, just hopefully smaller.

Earlier in the season, I thought to squirt some of my concentrated pickle solution down the hole. I’m not convinced this actually helps, and then I’m also putting detergent on my lawn where my kids play and killing lawn around the hole, no matter how carefully I squirt this stuff. I probably won’t continue with this.

My next step will be to cover the indents with corn meal gluten to prevent seeds from taking root in the exposed dirt/dent. After some time and this has broken down a bit, maybe I’ll re-seed the dent with grass seed — only after putting some good quality soil into the dent first! I’m not actually sure whether I should prioritize putting down the corn meal gluten or soil/grass seed. I’m not sure how long to wait after putting down the corn meal gluten to try to re-seed, either.

From what I’ve learned in my gardening class, theoretically I should also be able to encourage a healthy lawn by sprinkling good quality soil, finished compost, worm castings and maybe even the compost liquid from a worm farm, onto the lawn and then reseeding with grass seed. I’m not ready for that yet because I need to prioritize using those amendments for my garden soil first.

And Yet, Back to the Temptation to Spray

But before all that will really work, I think I need to get the existing dandelion problem with all the thick and extensive taproots that are already in place below ground, under control first! Now that I’m hopefully not making the problem worse by dead-heading the dandelions and leaving large chunks of taproots in the ground, will it eventually get better and better every year? Will it be another several years of back-breaking work before I gain the upper hand on the dandelions? Sure makes me consider spraying — just once, just one year. Then, I think, I can start with a clean slate. The internal debate just never ends!

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Detergent the culprit for boy’s “chemical burns” from school bathroom

I saw this very disturbing article this afternoon: Boy, 7, suffers chemical burns using school bathroom. 2 weeks ago, the boy sat on a toilet seat which had been cleaned with a harsh disinfectant, in his school bathroom. Later in the day, he noticed a rash resembling a sunburn on his legs. Then shortly after, the skin on his legs began to “ooze and bubble”. His mother says he missed nearly 2 weeks of school and was in so much pain he was unable to wear pants for 11 days. Other sources indicate additional children were impacted to varying degrees. Based on the description of what happened to this boy’s skin, how quickly it occurred, and how long he suffered, I wondered right away if the cleaning product contained detergents. I always have a heavy burden in my heart when I see news like this, because detergents are a largely unrecognized causation of skin rashes and eczema, and most who are aware are largely resistant to the concept that detergents, which are ubiquitous in our modern environments, could affect all of us negatively in some way, even if only “mildly” by causing dry skin and not severely as causing eczema or making asthma worse as for some. I almost hoped that detergents weren’t the culprit in this case, so I could escape that familiar burden to blog about it, post to Facebook about it, and tell everyone I could about it … so I wouldn’t perpetuate the notion that I’m on that “crazy detergent arc again” from those that don’t fully understand or simply don’t care. I and my children have been adversely affected by detergents, and found a solution for the ensuing relentless eczema, dry skin, and even reduced the severity of my asthma — things we’ve all been told aren’t supposed to be possible. So when I see evidence of someone suffering, all I want to do is to bring awareness about why, and conviction and thought about the trade-offs we’ve made in this synthetic-chemical-reliant world we now live in.

No such luck for my hope the culprit in this case isn’t detergent. The mother in the news article says the school provided her a MSDS (material safety data sheet) for the cleaning product in question, a product named “ED Everyday Disinfectant”. I looked it up. And on the data sheet I located, I found that the cleaner is comprised of 15% didecyl dimethyl ammonium chloride. This compound is what is known as a cationic surfactant (a detergent), belonging to the class of chemicals known as quaternary ammonium salts (see its SAAPedia entry here). Quaternary ammonium salts, or “quats” as they are commonly known, are a powerful chemical that are often used as sanitizers because they are antimicrobial (bactericidal and fungicidal). They are commonly used for food-surface sanitization at 100-400ppm which is equivalent to 0.01%-0.04% concentration. They function as detergents when present in high enough concentrations (see this paper). I’d say 15%, which is 1000x as strong as what is used to sanitize food prep surfaces, is a high enough concentration to qualify the quat in the “Everyday Disinfectant” cleaning product that was used on the toilet seat as a detergent!

The severity of this boy’s symptoms weren’t a surprise to me. They mirrored the symptoms my own children and others who suffer from eczema caused by environmental detergents, have exhibited. The red rash, burning, bubbling, oozing skin and then broken/scabbing skin described in the news article spoke to me immediately. The sad truth is that detergents really are everywhere. In fact, earlier this afternoon before seeing this news article, my children and I were at the grocery store and I saw a spray bottle labelled “Sanitizer-Quat” at the cashier, ostensibly used to sanitize the conveyer belt surface at checkout. I whispered to my son “that bottle contains ‘quats’, a very strong detergent — so don’t touch the belt!” Because detergents are everywhere, there is a great need to raise awareness that they impact all of us in a negative way because they increase skin and membrane permeability. If this was more readily known, and detergents’ causative impact to skin issues, eczema and potentially other allergic manifestations was more readily accepted through intentionally directed research validation, it’s possible that detergents would be used with greater care, and much more sparingly. The mother of the boy who suffered “burns” from the disinfectant cleaner used at his school went to the media because she wanted to make sure something similar didn’t happen to other kids. “It’d be a shame if it happened to anybody’s child,” she says in the article. I couldn’t agree more.

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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!

by Luis Llerena @ https://unsplash.com/negativespace

Site launch … finally!

Well, the day has finally come. I’ve been working on this blog either directly or indirectly since August 2014, and it’s finally time to launch. I had planned to launch by end of 2014 but got sidetracked with some other important initiatives which hopefully make it to a future post.

Along the way, I learned a lot of cool things about WordPress, came to have even greater respect for those technical folks who daily make a living of web-related software development, dusted off my own technical skills, did a lot of writing and editing, and had my passion for us to better understand the etiology and prevention of allergy, confirmed.

This blog really is a labour of love. That love is fuelled by the ache in my heart from seeing any child suffer from eczema, and from scratching my head at why rates of food allergy and other allergic manifestations have skyrocketed in our children’s generation. There are many well-written and science-based blogs written by loving moms who are dealing with food allergies, eczema, environmental allergies, asthma, or all of the above. I struggled with whether I had anything unique to add to the collective voice on the internet, but there were many encouragers along the way who told me to keep going, told me I had something valuable to add.

I hope other parents whose little ones suffer from eczema and other allergic manifestations will find this site useful. When people remember (or see photos of) my daughter’s awful baby eczema and then see her today — running around in her porcelain-like, supple, beautiful skin, like nothing was ever the matter — they are usually intrigued. I began finding it difficult to do our story justice in 30-second-soundbites exchanged in passing with other moms. I found it even more difficult to answer the question “What do you use instead?” in a non-intimidating, detailed way. I have endeavoured to put both our story and our product list on this site and (believe it or not!) tried to be succinct! The detail is there so that people can get just what they need from our story: skim it to get a sense of where I’m coming from, come back for a more detailed read if it intrigues you or you want to give detergent-removal and problem-solving a try.

Thanks for joining me here. Please subscribe if you like what you’re reading. My first few posts will attempt to explain the eczema flare mysteries (at the bottom of Part I of our story): why I believe my children’s eczema flared, in light of the solveeczema theory.