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The Best Gifts To Give Someone With Sensitive Skin

Your Hypoallergenic Gift Guide For The Most “Sensitive” On Your List

When choosing a gift for someone with very sensitive or allergic skin, it’s mostly a matter of what not to give. But as “Top 10 Gifts NOT To Give Someone With Sensitive Skin” shows…that’s a lot of no-go gifts. What are you left with? More than you might think. While each individual is unique — and their patch test results, too! — here are some presents you can confidently give the most “sensitive” people you know.

1. Truly-Truly Fragrance-Free Anything

Perfume is one of the most common contact allergens, and that means no perfume-perfume or anything with perfume. This includes organic, natural fragrances in skincare and cosmetics. Watch out: many products that say they’re unscented contain fragrances (there are regulatory loopholes). Reading ingredients lists may not help either as the fragrances might be listed under different names. It’s so hard to find completely fragrance-free skincare and makeup that almost any gift in this category is going to be welcome! Some ideas:

  • For a comprehensive range that’s 100% free of all-types-of-fragrances, including scents, essential oils, and masking fragrances (which don’t smell perfume-y but mask the inherent, often lab-like smell of a product), check out VMV Hypoallergenics skincare and makeup — which also excludes all 109 published contact allergens from almost everything they make. Thoughtfully curated gift sets are available, too, that are pre-wrapped and ready for gifting.
  • Unscented candles
  • Dried flowers
  • Picture frames
  • Mirrors
  • Artwork
  • Vases
  • …other items that are unscented and not handled frequently.

2. Preservative-Free Items

Classic top contact allergens include parabens, MCI/MI and other preservatives. “Preservative-free” is the way to go, in everything from skincare to makeup, and food. Some fabrics use preservatives, too. If you’re giving clothing to someone very allergic, it’s a good idea to wash the item with a hypoallergenic laundry detergent for multiple cycles (3-5) to rinse away traces of preservatives (of course this would probably be for a real close loved one!) Or, give something really unique that you know they’ll use every day: a hypoallergenic laundry wash!

3. Paper Floral Arrangements

We love flowers, herbs, and plants, but so many are top triggers for contact and other allergies. Consider alternatives like paper floral bouquets and arrangements like those from The Paper Flower Market. To be on the ultra-safe side, choose flowers from paper that is unbleached, un-dyed and untreated with chlorine, or at least arrangements that aren’t too vivid in color, especially in a bouquet that’s meant to be held. Even if you can’t find un-colored options, any paper floral arrangement reduces the risk of a reaction significantly. Other pluses: paper flowers last longer (while still being biodegradable) and don’t come with floral farming or air transport issues.

On a similar “note”…

4. Raw, Natural Stationary Items

Stationary can be an issue for people with allergies due to the presence of dyes. Natural, handmade paper can be a pretty alternative. Just choose subtler hues or paper that is completely without added color. And, of course, no scented paper.

As inks are also common contact allergens, natural wooden pencils that are unpainted on their outsides (or pens encased in subtly colored wood) are welcome gifts, too.

5. Nickel- and Gold-Free Jewelry and Accessories

The number one contact allergen is nickel, and it is in almost anything metal: watches, earrings, necklaces, rings; digital cases (like for your phone or tablet), phone cases, pens, belt buckles, hair clips, eyeglass frames, and more. While gold was long thought to be an alternative metal for those with nickel allergy, it is now listed as a common contact allergen. If you’d really like to give jewelry, look for…

  • Nickel-free options (there are a few you can find online).
  • Other, less allergenic metals like brass or copper.
  • Very high-quality steel (in this material, the nickel is often bonded strongly enough to not come off when in contact with skin, which is when the problem happens).
  • Shells, crystals, gemstones, or stones on ties made of natural, unbleached, uncolored, organic material (just nothing scratchy or rough).

6. Flatware With Non-Metal Handles

Because we use them so regularly, a set of knives, forks, and spoons with bamboo or natural fiber handles is such a great gift for someone with nickel allergies! Up the safety factor even more by making sure that the parts that go into the mouth are made of high-quality steel.

7. Nickel-Testing or -Blocking Solutions

For the friend who has a nickel allergy, these are uniquely thoughtful and incredibly functional gifts. There are a growing number to choose from, including Nickel Alert and Nick-L-Block. The latter has a testing solution for nickel, one for cobalt, and even a barrier cream that prevents the skin from coming into contact with nickel.

8. Leather Alternatives

So many things that are needed for the processing of leather are top allergens. Look for vegan materials like pineapple leather (particularly if they’re organic and subtly colored or uncolored). Natural canvas bags and pouches are also good choices and easy to shop for.

9. Soft, Loose, Subtly-Colored Fabrics

When giving clothing, linens, sheets, and towels, choose subtly colored, un-dyed and unbleached fabrics. Textiles labeled “organic” tend to ensure the absence of preservatives and other allergenic chemicals, and less processing in general. Stretchy fabrics tend to not be a good idea as rubber, elastics, and latex are allergens. Rough, scratchy materials can cause irritations more than allergic reactions. Soft, loose, flowy garments are the way to go.

One excellent source: Cottonique. They use organic cotton in loungewear and basics, accessories like shawls and headbands, and hard-to-find essentials like socks, underwear, and face masks.

10. Natural Fiber Alternatives

Rubber is a top allergen and can be found in lots of things, from flip flops to travel mugs (the handles) and rubberized phone cases. Try natural fibers or wood instead.

11. Ceramic or Glassware

Ceramics and clay are a problem when wet (so no pottery-making or clay-handling craft kits, please), but tend to be fine when dry. Glassware — like a pair of pretty champagne flutes or set of artisanal mason jar drinking glasses — is always appreciated.

12. Food Gifts

Yummy treats and healthy hampers are go-to classics for almost any occasion: the holidays, for celebrating a milestone, or for someone’s birthday. Go organic as much as possible (this helps ensure no pesticides or preservatives), make sure to avoid foods with dyes and added flavors, and steer clear of foods that are known contact allergens like honeycitruses and mangoes.

Note: food allergies (type B cells are involved) and skin allergies (type T cells) operate differently. A prick or blood test tells you if you can eat certain foods, and a skin patch test tells you if you can come into contact with them. If your friend is allergic to certain foods, it is important to take that into account when choosing a gift. But remember that if a friend can eat a food, it doesn’t mean that they can come into contact with it. With mangoes, for example, the skin itself is a contact allergen.

13. Wine or Alcohol

If your friend drinks, good wines and alcohols like a quality craft gin are normally appreciated, especially as there are so many to choose from! They’re a fun way to introduce enthusiasts to new variants from different countries. You’ll want to give fruity, flavored and/or colored drinks a pass, however, as the dyes and flavors are common contact allergens.

14. Tree Ornaments & Holiday Decor

Holiday baubles and doodads are thoughtful presents that turn one’s home into a cheerful reminder of friends and loved ones. Since tree ornaments, faux wreaths, and other holiday decorations aren’t handled frequently, and come in lots of materials that are less allergenic, you’re spoiled with a choice of options in wood, beads, pipe cleaner, tin, shells, paper, felt, and more!

15. Hypoallergenic Pampering

A facial or spa hour is such a great gift for someone who needs a break — and who doesn’t! But so many spa services make use of top contact allergens like essential oils. Mint, lavender and ylang-ylang are faves for good reason…they do smell and feel really, really good. For someone with very sensitive skin, however, these substances can mean more pain than pampering. Choose truly hypoallergenic facials and spa services that make use of fragrance- and allergen-free products, don’t use aromatic diffusers, and choose skin-safer options in everything from towels to sheets and other equipment.

If a facial or spa hour just can’t happen, bring the spa to your friend! Instead of essential oils, choose a pure, organic virgin coconut oil (not RBD coconut oil) with no additives whatsoever. Virgin coconut oil is a special multi-tasking gift: it’s awesome on skin as well as on hair, for oil-pulling, salads and cooking!

 

Not entirely sure what your friend is allergic to? Proven hypoallergenic choices — that are meticulous about excluding all published contact allergens — are the way to go.

 


Our team of “dew gooders” at VMV Hypoallergenics regularly shares “skinsider” tips! Follow us on Instagram for more of their hacks, “skintel” and tutorials!

Categories
Healthy Living Skin

Top 10 Gifts NOT To Give Someone With Sensitive Skin

The No-Go Gift Guide For Your most “Sensitive” Friends

Choosing a gift can be fun — who hasn’t smiled instantly at finding the perfect gift for someone they love? But shopping for people with very sensitive or allergic skin can be difficult. What was a thoughtful gesture can morph into the cause of an angry rash or trigger an eczema flare-up. You want your gifts to put smiles — and only smiles — on their faces! Here are the top 10 things NOT to give your most “sensitive” friends.

For alternatives and other safe gift ideas, check out The Best Gifts To Give Someone With Sensitive Skin.

1. Perfume; Scented Soaps, Lotions, Makeup

Perfume might be the most classic present of all but it’s also the most classic no-go gift for anyone allergic (skin or otherwise). Perfume is one of the most common contact allergens.

It’s not just bottled perfumes that can cause problems but anything that contains scents of any kind…no matter how natural or organic. Keep in mind that fragrances can be hard to spot in ingredients lists and some products that say “unscented” could still have fragrances in them, just under a different name. One way to check is to sniff: an obvious floral, fruity, mossy, musk, or perfume-y scent is a dead give away but so is a “nothing” smell. Most truly unscented makeup and skincare products will have a more lab-like odor.

2. Essential Oils, Aromatherapy, Incense, Scented Candles, Room Sprays

Airborne contact dermatitis is a thing. Even if a product isn’t spread on the skin and is instead diffused or sprayed in a room, its particulates can cause problems when they settle or are inhaled.

3. Stuff With Preservatives

If you’re giving food, makeup, or skincare, look for preservative-free options. Several preservatives like parabens and MCI/MI are top allergens.

4. Fresh Flowers, Herbs, Plants, Fruits

These are gorgeous gifts that bring nature into the home and are completely biodegradable (even yummy)…but so many flowers, herbs, plants, and fruits — even faves like lavender and citruses — are top triggers for contact allergies.

5. Jewelry; Metals

Nickel is regularly the top contact allergen overall and is very common in anything metal: earrings, watches, eyeglass frames, laptop and phone cases, pens, belt buckles, and more. Gold is a common contact allergen, too. If you’d really like to give jewelry, try options from our sensitive skin-safe gift guide.

6. Leather

Leather” as such isn’t listed as a common contact allergen, but a lot of the things that go into its processing are.

7. Brightly Colored Fabrics; Denim; Stretchy or Rough Textiles

Clothes, towels, and linens are great gifts but for someone with very sensitive skin, there are hidden dangers such as preservatives, dyes, latex, elastics, and chemicals called “mordants” (related to metal) that help colorants bind better to materials (particularly synthetic materials). Stretchy, tight fabrics and rough textiles can cause irritations.

8. Rubber Things

Flip-flops, sandals, and rubberized phone cases or travel mug handles can be a problem for those allergic to rubber and its cross-reactants.

9. E-Cigarettes/Vapes

Besides other issues, the liquids used in vaping contain common allergens like preservatives.

10. Brightly-Colored Stationary and Office Supplies; Paints, Inks; Ceramics and Clay (for Crafts)

Bright colors are often indicative of the presence of dyes. This can be a problem in papers but also in paints, inks, and even vividly-hued plastic items that may contain benzophenones or other allergens that help keep the colors bright over time. Ceramics and clay are actually pretty safe when dry but avoid them in gifts where you have to handle them wet, such as in crafts kits.

That may seem like a lot to avoid, but not to worry: The Best Gifts To Give Someone With Sensitive Skin has lots of safe gifting options for your sensitive-skinned loved ones!

Curious about what’s an allergen and what’s not? Check out our popular Allergen-Not An Allergen section.


Our team of “dew gooders” at VMV Hypoallergenics regularly shares “skinsider” tips! Follow us on Instagram for more of their hacks, “skintel” and tutorials!

Categories
Skin

Top Recommendations for Patients With Eczema

Eczema is characterized by inflammation, barrier defect, blistering, itching, and very dry skin. Eczematous skin can get so dry that it cracks…and then microbial infection can become an additional problem.

What to do to keep skin with eczema smooth, happy, and healthy…and steroid free? Let’s start with what not to do.

What To Avoid:

  • Harsh soaps;
  • Hot water;
  • Frequent washing;
  • Drying alcohol (not all alcohol is drying);
  • Natural remedies (without your doctor’s ok) — many natural ingredients are common contact allergens;
  • Using topical steroids every day for a prolonged period of time — this can be dangerous to your skin and cause other serious health problems;
  • NOT using topical steroids if prescribed by your doctor;
  • Not taking other prescribed medication and not following your doctor’s instructions;
  • Using products with allergens, especially perfumes, dyes, preservatives or any other allergen identified by a patch testing.
  • Your allergens in everything else: skincare, makeup, shampoo, clothing, digital equipment, plants and fruits, house cleaning products, laundry detergent, room sprays, vaping, scented candles, etc.

Best Practices:

1) Practice Strict Allergen Avoidance.

Contact dermatitis is a common cause of eczema and flare-ups, which is why patch testing is standard in the diagnosis and management of the condition. Once you know what your allergens are, you can avoid them in your skincare, makeup, shampoo, conditioner, clothing, phone cases, house cleaning products and laundry soap, and more.

For more on common allergens, check out our popular Allergen-Not An Allergen tab. For products free of all or most common contact allergens, check out VMVHypoallergenics.com. If you would like customized product recommendations based on your particular patch test results, contact us or drop us a private message on Facebook

2) Less Is More, and Hypoallergenic Is Best.

The fewer products the better, and hypoallergenic products — without the top allergens as published by dermatologists who do lots of patch testing — are the safest options.

3) Your Dermatologist Is A Long-Term Partner, Not A Fling.

Your skin, as with all other organs, changes over time. If your eczema is being managed well, schedule an appointment with your doctor once or twice a year for a general checkup. Your patch test might need to be repeated because you may have developed new allergies (or outgrown others). And of course, follow your doctor’s instructions for flare-ups.

4) PRAM: Prevent, Repair, Antimicrobial, Moisture.

Normalizing eczema means babying your skin:

Prevent:

  • Avoid your allergens as strictly as possible.
  • Use very gentle cleansers, soaps, lotion…everything. Think “gentle” in terms of textures, too: no rough or abrasive fabrics or materials.
  • Look for products that are validated as hypoallergenic and that contain as few ingredients as possible.
  • Prevent flare-ups before they can even start by being consistent about your daily care and trying a steroid-free soothing balm or anti-inflammatory balm if you feel that there is a risk of a flare.

Repair:

  • The skin’s barrier layer becomes compromised in eczematous skin. Look for moisturizers that provide barrier repair like virgin coconut oil.
  • “Repair” here also means: quickly and properly address a flareup should an emergency happen. Your doctor may prescribe a topical steroid for a short amount of time. Immune-modulating and other anti-allergy drugs may be called for if the eczema is generalized or recurrent despite strict allergen avoidance. Antihistamines or centrally-acting medicines can help relieve severe itching.
  • Part of repair is normalizing skin quickly after a flare. Early on, apply virgin coconut oil (VCO) to soften the crust as it forms (the crust makes the skin dry, hard and itchy). Keep applying the oil for occlusion, giving skin a secondary barrier against water loss.

Antimicrobial:

Opportunistic bacteria and viruses can enter microscopic cracks in very dry skin to cause a secondary infection. This makes the management of eczema more difficult, and can make itching and dryness worse. Remember that some antimicrobials are allergens, too, so use a non-allergenic option like monolaurin) or ask your doctor for guidance as prescription drugs may be needed for a secondary infection.

Moisturize:

Avoid drying ingredients in skincare and be generous about applying occlusive, healthy moisturizers. It’s so important that layering moisturizers for extra protection is often recommended: follow a daily moisturizer with virgin coconut oil (VCO replaces the fatty acids that make up the skin’s cell walls which are destroyed with inflammation).

How To Care For Skin With Eczema

Based on what we know about eczema, we recommend this daily regimen:

  1. FACIAL CLEANSING: Red Better Deeply Soothing Cleansing Cream
  2. SHAMPOO & BODY CLEANSING
  3. CONDITIONER: Essence Skin-Saving Conditioner
  4. MOISTURIZERS:
  5. FOR CRUSTS OR VERY DRY PATCHES: Grandma Minnie’s The Big, Brave Boo-Boo Balm
  6. FLARE-UP PREVENTION: steroid-free Red Better Calm-The-Heck-Down Balm
  7. SUN & LIGHT PROTECTION, BARRIER PROTECTION: (physical sunscreens that double as a barrier cream to help prevent contact irritations)

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Check out the other posts in this series:

What Is Eczema?

What Causes Eczema?

Eczema Flare-Up? Here’s What To Do…


Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)

Categories
Skin

Eczema Flare-Up? Here’s What To Do…

If you’re noticing a flare coming, try staving it off with a steroid-free soothing balm or anti-inflammatory balm. If you experience a flare-up, follow what your doctor prescribes.

First, practice mindfulness.

Eczema is an inflammatory condition. Panic and stress can fuel inflammation. Make your first action to practice your calming techniques such as meditation and breathing exercises.

Next, do what your doctor tells you…which is probably a steroid.

For emergencies, dermatologists will usually prescribe a topical steroid. For bad flare-ups, dermatologists may prescribe a steroid of moderate to high potency in a cream base for acute eczemas, and in an ointment base for chronic eczemas.

While a topical steroid may be necessary — which means you should use it as prescribed — remember that steroids are not meant for daily use over a long time (like a regular cream).

The goal is to quickly address the emergency, then move to softening the skin, and prioritize prevention to avoid future flare-ups as much as possible. Done right, strict allergen avoidance and a simple regimen that is ultra-gentle and prioritizes barrier repair should reduce your need for a steroid to one or two times a year, if that.

Then, focus on normalizing and getting back to prevention…

…by softening the dry skin that develops as the eczema moves into a subacute, then to a chronic phase.

Virgin coconut oil (VCO) applied at any phase of eczematous skin is soothing, and moisturizing. It is also, importantly, a gentle yet potent antimicrobial (secondary bacterial, fungal and even viral invaders can penetrate cracks in dry skin and worsen eczema and itchiness). VCO is also ideal for barrier repair because it replaces the fatty acids that that make up the skin’s cell walls which are destroyed with inflammation. Just remember to choose a 100% pure, organic virgin coconut oil, or one with monolaurin for additional antimicrobial protection.

All the above normalizes eczema, lessens inflammation, and helps remove dried-up crust, making the skin much less itchy. Once you’re in this phase, circle back to strict allergen and trigger prevention and your gentle regimen.

TIP: VCO is especially soothing on flaring skin when stored in the refrigerator here it naturally “butters” (it melts upon contact with skin). Or, use the VCO as a cold compress on eczematous skin.

Do NOT:

  • Ignore your doctor’s orders.
  • Reach for natural remedies without your dermatologist’s approval (many natural ingredients are common contact allergens).
  • Continue to use your topical steroid beyond what is prescribed to calm an acute flare-up.

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Check out the other posts in this series:

What Is Eczema?

What Causes Eczema?

Top Recommendations for Patients With Eczema


Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)

Categories
Skin

What Causes Eczema?

Eczema causes include…

a. Contact dermatitis

From…

  • Allergens in skincare and makeup;
  • Clothing, jewelry, eyeglasses, accessories;
  • Phone and computer materials and protective cases;
  • Flowers, plants, and fruits;
  • Insecticides, dishwashing liquids, laundry detergents, house cleaning solutions;
  • Airborne allergens from perfumes, room sprays, even vaping.

There are many more common contact allergens than you might think. This is why a patch test is normally done if eczema is suspected. For more on common allergens, check out our popular Allergen-Not An Allergen tab. For products free of all or most common contact allergens, check out VMVHypoallergenics.com. If you would like customized product recommendations based on your particular patch test results, contact us or drop us a private message on Facebook.

b. Atopic dermatitis:

Atopy means an inherited allergy. It is…

  • …Atopic dermatitis when the target organ is the skin;
  • …Rhinitis if the target is the nasal passage;
  • …Bronchial asthma if the target is the bronchial passages (the lungs).

c. Hereditary or acquired:

Because atopic dermatitis is hereditary, it often starts in infancy or early childhood.

Contact dermatitis, on the other hand, tends to develop later as we become more exposed to allergens in things that we use, touch, and are otherwise exposed to.

d. Nummular eczema…

…is caused by a combination of factors that include:

  • Atopic skin with bacterial contamination;
  • Insect bites;
  • Friction and irritation from rough materials; and/or
  • Allergic contact dermatitis.

These factors make the skin hyperactive, causing the large circular patches that characterize nummular eczema.

e. Seborrheic dermatitis

Also known as skin dandruff of the scalp or face often starts as scales. If irritated or secondarily infected (those opportunistic microbes again!), they can become eczematous.

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Check out the other posts in this series:

What Is Eczema?

Eczema Flare-Up? Here’s What To Do…

Top Recommendations for Patients With Eczema


Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)

Categories
Skin

What Is Eczema?

Eczema is…

…not any “sensitive skin.” Eczema is a general term for atopic dermatitis, which is the inflammation in the upper dermis of the skin.

This inflammation brings about “edema,” which is swelling from fluid retention. The fluid then moves upwards to the epidermis (the skin’s topmost layer), collects in between cells, and eventually becomes fluid-filled “bubbles” on the skin’s surface.

These bubbles get bigger, then enlarge, become blisters, dry up, and crust over, which is when they can get itchy and develop cracks. Opportunistic microbes can invade the skin through these cracks, causing more dryness and itching.

Redness is common, too, and indicates an active inflammation from…

  • The barrier defect inherent to atopic dermatitis; and/or
  • An offending product with an allergen — which is why patch testing and using validated hypoallergenic products are so important;
  • A secondary infection; or
  • Dry, crusty skin.

Removing the cause removes the inflammation and reduces the redness.

Note: Food can also contribute to redness. Scratch testing can help but positive results do not always correlate with the eczema flare-ups.

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Check out the other posts in this series:

What Causes Eczema?

Eczema Flare-Up? Here’s What To Do…

Top Recommendations for Patients With Eczema


Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)

Categories
Skin

How Is “pH” A “Thing” In Skincare, And Can It Help Eczema?

Marcie Mom from EczemaBlues.com interviews Laura, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics, to find out more about product claims and why they’re important when choosing your skin care…particularly if you or your child have eczema.

pH

Q: Is pH important in skincare for eczema? What does it mean if something says that it is “pH-balanced?”

A: pH-balanced is an interesting term because it could mean a completely neutral pH, which may or may not be ideal for a formulation. It is not a regulated term but a product’s pH is an important consideration for dry skin, skin with eczema, and skin undergoing active treatments.

The skin’s natural pH is actually slightly more acidic (5.5-6.5) than neutral (which is 7). Bar soaps, because of the way they are made, intrinsically tend to have a more basic or higher pH (some going as high as 10). This can, on its own, be quite denaturing and very drying to skin. Importantly, high-pH soaps and products can impair the skin’s barrier function further, which is the last thing you want for eczema.

Most of our products for very dry, sensitive, atopic skin skew towards the skin’s natural pH as much as possible, or even slightly lower.

 


This article was originally published in eczemablues.com as one of a multi-part series focused on understanding and using products for sensitive skinInspired by her daughter Marcie who had eczema from two weeks old, Mei (aka MarcieMom) started EczemaBlues.com with the mission to turn eczema blues to bliss. In this series of interviews, MarcieMom interviews Laura, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics, to learn more about product claims when choosing products to care for skin with eczema.

Categories
Skin

Are “Non-Drying” Products Important If I Have Eczema?

Marcie Mom from EczemaBlues.com interviews Laura, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics, to find out more about product claims and why they’re important when choosing your skin care…particularly if you or your child have eczema.

Non-Drying

Q: What does “Non-Drying” mean, and is it important in products for the management of eczema?

A: Non-drying should mean just that: will not dry out the skin. This is important in the management of eczema because the skin’s barrier function is already compromised. As well, the skin can develop fissures or small cracks through which microorganisms can enter, potentially causing infections. This is more of a risk the drier the skin.

In addition to making sure those with compromised skin know that our products with this claim will not further dry out their skin, “non-drying” alerts our customers to the fact that skin dryness can be indicative of a mild allergic or irritant reaction. Without irritants or allergens, and with non-drying formulations, we lessen this risk.

Something else to consider: non-comedogenic products sometimes include ingredients that do dry out the skin on purpose. Our products are both non-comedogenic and non-drying. Because some people with dry skin can experience acne, we feel it’s important that we specify this.

A bit of an aside: “non-drying” products can sometimes contain soothing hydrators and emollients that double as anti-inflammatories. Many skin conditions — like psoriasis, eczema, acne, and aging — are caused by, worsened by, or related to inflammation. The more a product can help reduce inflammation the better. Also, the less inflammation that your skin has to counter, the stronger your skin is, and the better able it is (on its own) to ward off infection, reactions, and other problems!

 


This article was originally published in eczemablues.com as one of a multi-part series focused on understanding and using products for sensitive skinInspired by her daughter Marcie who had eczema from two weeks old, Mei (aka MarcieMom) started EczemaBlues.com with the mission to turn eczema blues to bliss. In this series of interviews, MarcieMom interviews Laura, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics, to learn more about product claims when choosing products to care for skin with eczema.

Categories
Skin

Is “Non-Comedogenic” Important for Eczema?

Marcie Mom from EczemaBlues.com interviews Laura, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics, to find out more about product claims and why they’re important when choosing your skin care…particularly if you or your child have eczema.

Non-Comedogenic

Q: I noticed that your products are listed as ‘non-comedogenic.’ Can you explain what this means?

A: Non-comedogenic means that a formulation will not clog pores, which is important to prevent acne. This isn’t normally a concern for someone with eczema, but acne prevention can be important for compliance. If a product is safe (will not cause reactions) and/or offers effective therapy…but also causes acne…then people are less likely to use it. Or, the product may create one more problem to deal with which complicates management and therapy.

A common misconception is that “Non-Comedogenic” is only important if you have oily skin. Studies are showing an increase in adult acne, and in various skin types. Of course, if you have dry skin (and certainly barrier-compromised skin), you don’t want a product that strips your skin of oil either, but “non-comedogenic” just means that the product will not clog pores — which isn’t the same thing. Or shouldn’t be the same thing (some formulations purposefully strip the skin of oils, which you don’t want). If acne has become an additional concern, a non-comedogenic, non-drying product without allergens is a great choice.

 


This article was originally published in eczemablues.com as one of a multi-part series focused on understanding and using products for sensitive skinInspired by her daughter Marcie who had eczema from two weeks old, Mei (aka MarcieMom) started EczemaBlues.com with the mission to turn eczema blues to bliss. In this series of interviews, MarcieMom interviews Laura, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics, to learn more about product claims when choosing products to care for skin with eczema.

Categories
Allergen, Not An Allergen Featured

INFINITY STONES: Allergen or Not An Allergen?

Not An Allergen…but a Strong Irritant

SPOILERS ahead for Avengers: End Game.
If you have not seen the movie, stop reading here.

Infinity Stones

Infinity stones are extremely dangerous, but we feel that they are more likely to be irritants than allergens. Irritants should not be thought of as less bothersome than allergens. In fact, irritants can be, as in the case of chlorine, toxic or deadly with too much exposure. Based on what we know about the infinity stones as well as how irritant and allergic reactions work, we feel that these cosmic gems would be strong irritants based on five main justifications: rarity, molecular size, lack of the need for sensitization, speed and type of reactions, and that reactions tend to occur with more exposure.

1) Infinity Stones Are Really Rare

Our first justification for infinity stones as strong irritants but not allergens is their rarity. Common allergens tend be “everywhere.” Infinity stones are even rarer than our other fantasy allergen-not an allergen vibranium, which we theorized as Not An Allergen.

Not only are infinity stones extremely hard to find, each stone is unique — one of a kind. All six stones are either the six fragments of the oldest being in the universe who committed suicide due to loneliness (from comic archives), or the embodiment of six entities that existed before the universe came into being and that control every aspect of life and the universe (MCU). Being so rare and with a good likelihood of staying rare (pre-universal beings aren’t exactly next to the mints at your local convenience store), there is little likelihood of them becoming common contact allergens.

2) Molecular Size…They’re Gemstones

Allergens tend to have a small molecular size (less than 500 daltons), which allows them to be more readily absorbed into the skin. Infinity stones are solid gemstones with large molecules, and they are not ground up into a powder and applied. If there is anything absorbed, it seems to be the energy emitted by the stones…which, while also having a correlation in skin, is not a contact allergen.

There are different types of energy that we know that the skin gets exposed to, and that can affect the skin. These include: UV, lasers, infrared, visible light, radio frequency, ultrasound, cryo (cold) energy, and kinetic energy. Many of these energies can penetrate the skin, and even tissue and bone. But when they do, their action is different from sensitization. They break down cells.

As they appear and exist, and as they are used, the infinity stones are solid entities with a molecular size too large to penetrate the skin, which makes them less likely to be allergens.

3) No Need For Sensitization: Infinity Stones Can Hurt Anyone

Allergens cause allergic reactions after sensitization: exposure to the substance causes an immune overreaction in your skin that your cells then remember. This can happen quite suddenly and be a surprise, as sensitization can occur late (sometimes years later) to a substance that was previously never a problem. Once you have been sensitized — have developed an allergy — to a substance, your cells remember so that even a small amount of it can trigger an allergic reaction.

Irritant reactions are not allergic reactions and do not require sensitization. Think of them instead as “injuries” to the skin’s surface…specifically when an injury from friction, chemicals, certain physical materials, or even too much water or the cold happens faster than the skin can repair itself.

Irritant reactions can occur after just one exposure, especially if the irritant is a strong one like an acid or an alkali. Mild irritants may elicit reactions after repeated contact or exposure. And other irritants may cause certain people to develop a tolerance to them over time. The point is, allergens elicit allergic reactions…if you are not sensitized to the substance, you should have no problems touching it. Infinity stones seem universal in their ability to cause harm to anyone — with reactions being more severe with prolonged exposure and with some stronger beings having a higher tolerance — without requiring sensitization.

Another way of thinking about this is: a common contact allergen is not harmful to everyone; just to those allergic to it. But infinity stones seem to be problematic for everyone. No one seems to be able to hold an infinity stone for long without sustaining injury or death. For this reason, infinity stones tend to be housed in a gauntlet or other object (the Mind Stone in Loki’s scepter, Time Stone in The Eye of Agamotto, the Space Stone in the Tesseract, for example).

4) Speed and Type of Reactions

Unlike anaphylaxis, contact allergic reactions (once sensitization has occurred) tend to occur not immediately but after a day or several days, while irritant reactions can occur quickly after contact. Certainly the power stone (as we saw in Guardians Of The Galaxy) elicits immediate reactions, as does using all the stones together, as we saw with Thanos, The Hulk, and Iron Man.

Strong irritants can cause gnarly reactions, even if you aren’t allergic to them. These can include redness, but also blistering, swelling, pain, and chemical burns, all of which we seem to see with infinity stones.

The “reactions” from prolonged contact with infinity stones seem to involve the skin — burns and other trauma that seem to spread quickly beyond the hand to the arm, neck, and face. In the case of Jane Foster’s “possession” and The Collector’s assistant’s explosion, these quick reactions also seem to spread and become systemic. While systemic reactions are more common with allergic reactions, they aren’t unheard of in irritant reactions, particularly to very strong irritants.

5) Amount and Length of Exposure Matter

An irritant removes the skin’s natural moisture and oils that it needs to protect itself. Once this occurs, the irritants can penetrate the skin even more and cause further inflammation and other damage. Allergens tend to be able to cause an allergy even with tiny quantities of the allergen or with short exposure. Irritants can require more of a substance or more exposure to it to elicit a reaction.

The infinity stones seem to cause more damage the more they are used, or the more of them are used together, as we can see from the lack of harm to some individuals in MCU who touch individual stones briefly (even non-super or celestial individuals like Hawkeye) versus the spreading damage to Thanos, The Hulk, and Iron Man after handling the stones for longer, or all together.

Finally, stopping contact with infinity stones — as in the case of Jane Foster, Drax, and Mantis with the Reality Stone, and any of the individuals under the mind stone’s spell after Loki’s scepter is destroyed — even without an antidote or medicine (or antihistamine?) seems to alleviate the symptoms completely…which is also consistent with an irritant reaction.

 

Infinity stones being fictional, there is lots we might be missing of course. But do you think we got it right? Would you have said allergen instead? Let us know in the comments!

 

 If you have a history of sensitive skin in real life, don’t guess: random trial and error can cause more damage. Ask your non-fictional superhero dermatologist of choice about a patch test.

To shop our selection of hypoallergenic products, visit vmvhypoallergenics.com. Need help? Ask us in the comments section below, or for more privacy (such as when asking us to customize recommendations for you based on your patch test results) contact us by email, or drop us a private message on Facebook.

For more:

On the prevalence of skin allergies, see Skin Allergies Are More Common Than Ever and One In Four Is Allergic to Common Skin Care And Cosmetic Ingredients.

To learn more about the VH-Rating System and hypoallergenicity, click here.

Sources:

Russel, B. (2019, February 6). The Definitive Guide to the Marvel Infinity Stones in the MCU: Powers, names, locations, and everything else you need to know before Avengers: Endgame. Retrieved April 29, 2019.

Fandom contributors. (2018, April 10). Infinity Stones.Retrieved April 29, 2019.

Dockterman, E. Everything to Know About Marvel’s Infinity Stones Before You See Avengers: Endgame. (2019, March 10). Time.

Mayo Clinic staff. (2018, October 4). Contact dermatitis. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved April 29, 2019.

InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Allergic contact dermatitis: Overview. 2017 Jul 13.

Ngan, V. (2003). Irritant Contact Dermatitis. Dermnet New Zealand. Retrieved April 29, 2019.

Additional References (Nonfictional): 

Regularly published reports on the most common allergens by the North American Contact Dermatitis Group and European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (based on over 28,000 patch test results, combined), plus other studies. Remember, we are all individuals — just because an ingredient is not on the most common allergen lists does not mean you cannot be sensitive to it, or that it will not become an allergen. These references, being based on so many patch test results, are a good basis but it is always best to get a patch test yourself.

1. Warshaw, E.M., Maibach, H.I., Taylor, J.S., et al. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012. Dermatitis. 2015; 26: 49-59

2. W Uter et al. The European Baseline Series in 10 European Countries, 2005/2006–Results of the European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (ESSCA). Contact Dermatitis 61 (1), 31-38.7 2009

3. Wetter, DA et al. Results of patch testing to personal care product allergens in a standard series and a supplemental cosmetic series: An analysis of 945 patients from the Mayo Clinic Contact Dermatitis Group, 2000-2007. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Nov;63(5):789-98.

4. Verallo-Rowell VM. The validated hypoallergenic cosmetics rating system: its 30-year evolution and effect on the prevalence of cosmetic reactions. Dermatitis 2011 Apr; 22(2):80-97

5. Ruby Pawankar et al. World Health Organization. White Book on Allergy 2011-2012 Executive Summary.

6. Misery L et al. Sensitive skin in the American population: prevalence, clinical data, and role of the dermatologist. Int J Dermatol. 2011 Aug;50(8):961-7.

7. Warshaw EM1, Maibach HI, Taylor JS, Sasseville D, DeKoven JG, Zirwas MJ, Fransway AF, Mathias CG, Zug KA, DeLeo VA, Fowler JF Jr, Marks JG, Pratt MD, Storrs FJ, Belsito DV. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012.Dermatitis. 2015 Jan-Feb;26(1):49-59.

8. Warshaw, E et al. Allergic patch test reactions associated with cosmetics: Retrospective analysis of cross-sectional data from the North American Contact Dermatitis Group, 2001-2004. J AmAcadDermatol 2009;60:23-38. 

9. Foliaki S et al. Antibiotic use in infancy and symptoms of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema in children 6 and 7 years old: International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood Phase III. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Nov;124(5):982-9.

10. Kei EF et al. Role of the gut microbiota in defining human health. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2010 Apr; 8(4): 435–454.

11. Thavagnanam S et al. A meta-analysis of the association between Caesarean section and childhood asthma. Clin Exp Allergy. 2008;38(4):629–633.

12. Marks JG, Belsito DV, DeLeo VA, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch-test results, 1998 to 2000. Am J Contact Dermat. 2003;14(2):59-62.

13. Warshaw EM, Belsito DV, Taylor JS, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch test results: 2009 to 2010. Dermatitis. 2013;24(2):50-99.

Want more great information on contact dermatitis? Check out the American Contact Dermatitis SocietyDermnet New Zealand, and your country’s contact dermatitis association.