I don’t know if y’all know this or not but I suffer from an autoimmune disease called Psoriasis. I’ve had this for as far back as I can remember but it wasn’t until recently that I knew what I was dealing with. Psoriasis is described as a common issue that people can get from genetics, vaccine reactions or triggered by something in their environment and is called an inflammatory disease. The symptoms are very itchy patches of bumpy and inflamed red skin that turn into scaly type scabs. Now that I know what it is, I can see the things I do (and use) that can cause flare ups.
I remember a specific time when my Psoriasis flared up the worst it has ever been! I didn’t know at the time what it was just that I was having some sort of “reaction.” I had gone to Bath and Bodyworks in the mall and snagged body washes, shampoos and conditioners during a huge sale they were having and I went home to indulge in my new products. I was in college and in my first apartment when I took a shower and started scratching like I had been covered in a million mosquito bites. Y’all I was itching from head to toe! When I got out the shower my skin was so red (I chalked it up to the water being hot) and after scratching, I noticed I was covered in little red, raised bumps. Well, after scratching so much I noticed all those places turned into scabs. It was the most disgusting and uncomfortable thing I’ve ever seen on my skin. I didn’t know then what I know now and what I didn’t know was that I was experiencing was a reaction to “fragrance” in the products I had just purchased.
Over time and trial and error testing, I have found there are two main contributors in my psoriasis flare ups: “fragrance” and SLS in my personal care products. I could use a body wash, shampoo or even hand soap with these things and my skin starts going nuts. I can’t even explain how bad it gets if I use them in my laundry detergent and then put my clothes on. It took a few years to figure this out and really showed me that products claiming to be “natural” or “organic” often still use “fragrance” and SLS (and get away with it) because there is no regulation in the beauty industry. Companies can put those terms on their bottles and lie straight to our faces without any reprimand from the government. Manufacturers say that the chemicals they use to create their scents are confidential and are considered proprietary “trade secrets” so they don’t have to disclose their ingredients. The issue is that we as consumers could unknowingly be using thousands of chemicals that can cause issues with our bodies when we use their products.
The other ingredient that I’ve seen trigger my psoriasis is SLS. Now, what is this exactly? Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), also known as Sodium dodecyl sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are both surfactants. It refers to the ingredients in soaps, laundry detergents, toothpastes, etc that cause that particular product to create suds. It’s also a common skin irritant and it always makes me have a psoriasis flare up. I’ve also had friends with eczema have extreme reactions to this ingredient. It’s such a common ingredient in personal care products that manufactures get away with using it because it’s “needed.” The truth of the matter is that you can make suds without the use of it – it just takes a little work.
So now that I’ve shared what psoriasis is and what can trigger it, I am sure you want to know what I’ve done to heal my flare ups. This was another long trial and error process that I am happy to share.
- Get a water filter for your shower and bathtub – Why? Because there are additives in our city tap water that can cause skin irritation. This was something I never thought about until we moved. When we moved into our new home I had not put the shower filters on our showers yet and I took a shower as normal. When I got out, I was itching like crazy and I couldn’t figure out why. I had not changed any products and then I thought to look on the EWG tap water database to see if it could be the water. IT WAS! I was shocked! Using a water filter is great for many reasons and I can say it really does make a huge difference in clearing my psoriasis. I love the Crystal Quest water filters. I’ve used them for years and because I have been so loyal to their brand, they are being very gracious to gift my followers 10% off their purchases with code: LITTLESOUTHERNWIFE10.
- Use a non toxic laundry detergent – Don’t just assume off the bottle label when it comes to finding a non toxic detergent. Check the ingredients for yourself and make sure there are no links to skin irritation. A quick google can answer your questions and I also love to use the website Environmental Working Group. It’s a huge help when finding safer products to use. After 7 years of trying different non toxic brands and finding out they lacked in the performance area or were greenwashing, we’ve found a (husband approved) brand that works! Molly Sud’s is hands down my favorite brand, we’ve used for a few years now and it’s spectacular. You can read more about my laundry situation here.
- Check your hand soaps and sanitizers – These are two that I’ve seen cause major skin irritation issues on hands because it’s something we use so often. I use brands without “fragrance” and “SLS” as ingredients and now I don’t have issues with my hands. My personal favorites are from the brand Everybody Hand Soaps and you can buy them locally at Walmart.
- Come clean with your hair products – Y’all! Shampoos, conditioners, dry shampoos and hairsprays are some of the worst offenders and often why we have scalp flare ups. It’s taken me a while to find non toxic alternatives but I have and y’all are gonna love them. Here are my favorite hair products – click here and here.
- Give up the perfume and heavily scented body washes and lotions – I don’t want to shock to many women but y’all have got to cut back. Not only will the rest of us be happy with you for not being church lady perfume status but your body will as well! Fragrance fills up these specific products and they will trigger a reaction in a heartbeat. I’ve gotten over my addition to perfume by using essential oils and blends (Pinterest is a huge helper in coming up with formulas) and I use all Beautycounter personal care products for my body. They just released a Monai scented body balm that is my go to for a lotion. It smells like a beach vacation in Hawaii with all real ingredients and no fragrance. I’ve been a huge Beautycounter user for the past 3 years and I’ve seen how it has dramatically cleared up my psoriasis and helped when I do have a random reaction.
Do you or someone you know suffer from Psoriasis? Have you ever heard of eliminating these ingredients to help stop flare ups? I’d love for you to share this information with someone you know if they need the help! Please send me an email if you have any questions, I am happy to help!