Combination of two articles originally published May 2014, EXAMINER
What are you 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! And though it’s true, that molecules of whatever have to be small enough to get through the pores of our skin, I’ve heard it said that what we put ON our bodies could impact our health just as much as what we put IN our bodies!
Think about the chemicals and dyes used in the manufacturing process of clothing. When we sweat, our pores are open, and whatever is laying against the skin can enter INTO us!
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 your fingers have taste buds! Either way, science has discovered that we have taste buds in other parts of our bodies!
Going further, this scientific evidence suggests bitter foods open lung passages (scientists are studying taste buds in the lungs to help cure asthma). And when I use my Young Living essential oils on the bottom of my feet, depending upon the oil I use, I have tasted the flavor in my mouth!
Manufacturing safety data sheets (MSDSs) have warned people for years “AVOID CONTACT WITH SKIN” 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 states that, 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.”
The chemicals between us
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
• Rubber chemicals
• Amine hardeners
• Phenol-formaldehyde resins
• Some disinfectants
• Food products
• 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?
Absorbing through the skin
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!
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, quoted below, 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.
I’m also really getting into Hemp made clothing too! And bamboo! If you just do a little research, you can find small (perhaps even local) people to buy handmade clothing from these wonderful, natural, and sustainable clothes!
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! Since he didn’t smoke or drink alcohol, 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. He and my grandmother did live directly across a small river from a rayon factory though. That factory was sued for polluting the river and later sold / went out of business. (I’m sure that’s another reason that I do not wear clothing made of rayon.)
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:
• Indexed Dermal Bibliography at (1995–2007)
• NIOSH’s Skin Exposures and Effects topic page
• NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards and Web site
• Quick Selection Guide to Chemical Protective Clothing Fourth Edition
• OSHA Dermal Exposure topic page
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! 😉
Why do people think they can put synthetics and chemicals on their skin and not suffer some weird effect? I guess it’s because we aren’t aware that these things can penetrate the skin.
How is it then, we can put a patch on our body with something containing vitamins or substances to help us quit smoking and we fully expect it to pass into the body? I suppose it comes down to “how” it happens, and how small the molecules have to be before they can pass through our skin – the largest organ of the body.
Look at the natural skincare aisle at Whole Foods, or other health food stores. There are so many more natural skincare items available now. I think we’re finally waking up to that part, but what about or clothes, or our household furnishings?
If wearing fake stuff can affect our health, how about sitting, or sleeping on them? I had been thinking of writing this article for some time, but when I saw this article, I knew I needed to put my thoughts to paper (well, internet).
The state of California is moving to get cancer-causing flame retardants out of home furnishings.
So to back up a little bit. My mother was told by a chiropractor in the 1960s to put only natural fiber clothing, and shoes on me – no plastics! I had been diagnosed with asthma (around 1968) and it was this doctors understanding that in order to clear my body of illness I needed to wear natural fiber clothing (along with several other treatment offerings) this was basic to allow my body to heal naturally.
To my mom’s credit, she attempted this, making / sewing many of my garments for several years, and buying me only leather shoes. In high school I took four years of home economics classes and learned how to make my own clothes. However, with the advent of my mother needing to work outside the home, and my desire to get a job at age fifteen (perhaps also since my health had improved), along with the ease and cheap cost of manufactured clothing, slowly we started buying and wearing “anything and everything” sold in the big box stores.
I do recall also, that flame retardants were introduced on the fabrics. I am not sure we were following, at that time, why flame retardants could cause a health problem but some were banned in 1977 due to toxic effects. Now most Americans test positive for traces of flame retardants in our bodies. (See this wiki page for more information on this).
For a more broad explanation about why flame retardants and synthetics are bad for us – 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 crop!
For about the last eight years I’ve been wearing cotton bras but in the last year I’ve found, ordered, and have begun wearing organic cotton shirts from Jiffy shirts with jeans, even under suit jackets with slacks to my professional office. I also started checking the labels of my jeans and getting rid of the ones that added that stretchy material which, I hadn’t even paid any attention.
I believe the toxins put onto fabric is another very meaningful reason why manufacturers ask us to first wash clothing when we buy it and take it home, BEFORE wearing. However, I have a feeling just washing is not enough to properly protect ourselves.
Committed to organic fiber
I am committed to buying and wearing organic cotton socks and underwear and buy these for my granddaughter and great-granddaughter from Ecoland. Also, I am slowly changing out my wardrobe of office and casual attire to cotton clothing from Cotton Seed Casual Wear. They are super comfortable, easy-care (just wash and dry, no ironing), and they don’t shrink!
Many people with allergies do not even consider it could be the rayon, nylon, elastic, and polyester they’re wearing that is contributing to the problem.
I know the government passed a law about flame-retardant cloth years ago, but actually – there’s no law stating you have to wear it.
It can’t hurt to wear more natural, non-chemically treated clothing – can it? Unless you’re a fireman and need flame-retardant suits, I just can’t think of any other reason why its necessary to wear. Even so, they can wear cotton underneath all of that – so the chemically treated fiber is not laying against the skin.
Find relief for yourself or your loved ones. Pay the farmer or the doctor.
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