It has long been accepted that soap and eczema do not go together. Soap dries the skin depleting it of its natural oils. Soap often contains perfumes which may also cause an allergic reaction.
The fact is not all soaps are bad for eczema skin. Some may actually help the skin. It is simply a matter of knowing what soaps are safe and which ones are best avoided.
What is it about soap?
Traditionally soaps were made using what is called cold press soap-making. This involves blending a fatty acid (animal or vegetable oil) with an alkali base. The base is usually a lye solution which is made by mixing caustic soda and water.
The soap making process involved several hours of blending followed by weeks of curing. The end result being a mixture of soap and glycerin.
Modern technology has enabled soaps to be made more quickly and cheaply. However to do this lower quality oils are used resulting in lower quality soaps. Heat destroys the goodness in even the high quality oils and manufacturing removes the glycerin which softens the skin.
At the end of the processing phase fragrances, additives, preservatives and colourings are added to the soap. All of which frequently cause allergic reactions in the eczema skin.
What soaps can I use?
When selecting a soap to use the eczema sufferer should opt for a soap manufactured using the traditional cold press methods, where only the finest quality oils have been used. A soap free from any additives is also important.
To obtain this soap the buyer often has to be prepared to spend a little extra as the process is more time consuming and the ingredients more expensive.
However a fine quality soap of this nature will not strip the skin of its natural oils so the need for moisturising emollients will be lessened.
We sell several superb soaps that are designed especially for sensitive skin, but my favourite is Grahams Natural Soap. It is made locally from a natural blend of oils and Manuka Honey and will leave your skin feeling gently moisturised.