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Got allergies? What are you wearing?

Take It Upon Yourself
Take It Upon Yourself
Sheila Murrey

Following up on my previous article, "Could you be allergic to what you are wearing?" I don't think many of us are aware that our allergies can be directly related to what we wear, or put on our bodies. Things do penetrate the skin. That's why they say we have pores - we are porous! What we put on our body probably impacts our health just as much as what we put IN our body!

Have you ever handled garlic (or onions) and within a few moments began to taste it? Either the food penetrates the skin, entering our pores so quickly (rushing into your bloodstream) that you begin tasting it in your mouth, or you have taste buds in your fingertips - either way, here's a new interesting scientific finding, which presents us with the information - you have taste buds in other parts of your body!

Going further, this new scientific evidence suggests bitter foods open lung passages (scientists are studying taste buds in the lungs to help cure asthma).

Now manufacturing safety data sheets (MSDSs) have warned people for years "AVOID CONTACT WITH SKIN" (click for the PDF document download) for hundreds of chemicals. Why? Granted some chemicals are so strong, they are caustic (could literally burn) your skin. But do other reasons exist?

The Center for Disease Control's PDF document (linked to above) states, "health impacts may occur at the point of contact with the chemical, or the chemical may enter the body through compromised skin (such as a wound) or by permeating the skin. Then the chemical can be distributed by the bloodstream, causing or contributing to a health problem somewhere else in the body." It continues, "Exposure to organophosphate pesticides, which can enter the body through the skin, may cause damage to the nervous system.

Sensitization is another type of health effect resulting from dermal exposure to chemicals. Combined health effects from a single chemical exposure may also occur." So when they say "combined health effects" is that a little bit like saying they don't know - because it could depend upon you combine the various chemicals.

I remember from high school science class we're not supposed to mix bleach and ammonia but it sounds to me like there's a lot more going on here.

Later in that same document it states, "Chemicals absorbed through the skin can damage an entire body system, including the immune system, nervous system, or respiratory system."

My question then becomes, what chemicals? Is there a list?

The chemicals listed in the PDF document that can cause skin irritation and/or damage are:

  • Epoxy resins
  • Chromates
  • Rubber chemicals
  • Amine hardeners
  • Phenol-formaldehyde resins
  • Pesticides
  • Herbicides
  • Carcinogens
  • Tar
  • Asphalt
  • Some disinfectants
  • Fiberglass
  • Food products
  • Oils
  • Lubricants
  • Solvents
  • Isocyanates (contained in many paints and other building materials, like spray-on insulation and roofing materials)

I am sure that is not an all inclusive list. Also, why do they list "food products"? Could that be like hot peppers that burn my skin when i touch them?

Skin care experts will explain how many layers of dermis (skin) we have on our body, but anyone who's gotten a tattoo can tell you, some areas of the body seem to have thinner skin than others - because the tattoo in those sensitive areas hurt more than others (specifically near the underarm area vs. outside of the upper arms).

Vitamin patches deliver nutrients via transdermal supplement delivery system which, effectively moves ingredients into the body while bypassing stomach acids. Western (traditional) medicine has used these types of patches applied to the skin for years to deliver everything from heart medication to hormone therapies. Also, smokers are very familiar with this delivery method because it's how nicotine therapy is often applied - as a patch on the arm.

What can you do? How small do the molecules have to be before they can pass through our skin? It depends not just upon the size of the molecule but also the solubility of the molecule. It may also depend upon your own personal sensitivity or how often you are exposed.

Next time you begin sneezing consider what you are wearing, or what you've recently applied to your skin. Check out this list of commonly used toxic chemicals in your clothes (thanks to Silver Needle and Thread). When I saw acetone on the list, it reminded me that I quit polishing my fingernails years ago, hence, I do not use acetone fingernail polish remover (yes I know they sell non-acetone remover but it never worked as well so when I used to polish my nails I used the acetone stuff, ugh). I also believe the acetone penetrates the nail bed and contributes to dis-ease.

The more you begin digging into the topic of "what we put on our body impacts our health" the more convoluted and intense it becomes!

Let me encourage you to check out this video by Dr. Brian Clement of Hippocrates Health Institute regarding his new book, "Killer Clothes". Dr. Clement states that it's very important to buy organic cotton materials and clothing because cotton is one of the most heavily pesticide-sprayed crops and we see pesticide and herbicide on that CDC list!

Since my first article on this topic, I've been scouring the internet for organic cotton clothing. I have a short list now, and will continue to add to it as I find more reputable companies. Here's one of my source lists - Green People. The other source list I'm using is: All Organic Links.

Also, while doing your online shopping, enter the word "organic" in the search box (if they offer a search, most do) and see what you can find - like I did on the Gaiam site.

Note: Cotton Seed Casual Wear. are 100% cotton clothing but are not organic - for those of us transitioning from unnatural fabrics, they are super easy care and comfortable, my skin in the Florida heat really breathes so much easier in these clothes than all the polyester, rayon, spandex, and blends I used to wear.

Millions of people think they need some authority (doctor or other) to tell them what to eat, drink, or put on their body! Bogus! Use your common sense!

Look at history. People didn't start having all the various ills they have today before processed foods, synthetic fiber clothing and furnishings, and chemicals became such an integrated part of our day-to-day lives! It just doesn't pass the sanity test to think we can put crap into our body, wrap ourselves in synthetics and chemicals, yet expect to experience vibrant health and longevity.

I have a family member who was exposed to cement on his legs (it got down inside his rubber boots, and rubbed against his skin) which, resulted in irritation from the alkaline nature of the cement. He had to go to the emergency room and have his skin scrubbed - a very painful process! We have learned he may have also become sensitized due to the chrome salts present in the concrete.

As well, in the 1960s my maternal grandfather died of cancer and since he didn't smoke I have often looked back at what I know of his life to find possible causes. He was a truck driver and inhaled a lot of exhaust and gas fumes. He also worked on his own truck - putting his hands directly in fuel and other solvents. I imagine the combinations of those things contributed greatly to his untimely death at 57 years of age.

If you work with concrete or any other potentially hazardous substance please wear your personal protective equipment (PPE) and always consult the MSDS for the item you're using. Yes, there's even an MSDS for Formula 409.

Contact the following centers for more information:

I am committed to help get the word out and show people what you put on and in your body makes a difference.

With all things, have FUN and ease! ;)

Take it upon yourself to be healthy, joyful, vibrant, and beautiful. Be who you want to be.

Information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or prescribe.

Millions spent on skin rejuvenation
Millions spent on skin rejuvenation Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Millions spent on skin rejuvenation

Keeping your skin clean, free of toxic chemicals, eating a clean organic balanced, mostly vegetarian diet, and wearing natural fibers, will save you time and money in the long run - you won't even need a facial, unless you just want one (like I do occasionally) for the relaxation of it.

Great way to recycle plastic
Great way to recycle plastic David McNew/Getty Images

Great way to recycle plastic

Great way to get the plastic out of the oceans and landfills, blend it with cotton and make shopping bags! In fact, let's hope they're blending it with all the non-organic cotton and save the organic cotton for clothing.

Eat a clean organic mostly vegan diet
Eat a clean organic mostly vegan diet Scott Olson/Getty Images

Eat a clean organic mostly vegan diet

If you don't want to give up the scent of food cooking, or give up eating meat - then at least cut down. Try going a day or two without it. It won't kill you. It may actually help you feel better and allow you to live longer! Opt for organic foods as much as possible.

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