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Like many people with autoimmune disease, other little autoimmune-related syndromes just happen. There is always some add-on, some new extra annoyance to deal with. Syndromes and symptoms change over time, and we have to adapt to keep up.
Eczema is one of my little annoyances that I have to deal with every winter. I find that harsh soaps make it much worse on my hands, as I am wont to washing them often. During this time of pandemic crisis, I imagine many people will have raw and cracked hands from repeated washing and sanitizing. Using a more mild, foaming soap infused with helpful oils may help reduce this inflammation.*
Remember to moisturize often!
- 1 part Liquid Castile Soap
- 2 parts cup Water
- 1 tsp Cold Pressed Hemp Seed Oil
- 5 drops Vitamin E Oil
- 10 – 20 drops essential oils (for scent)
You will need a foaming soap dispenser, which can be purchased individually or reused from a store-bought foaming soap. I tend to receive these as holiday gifts, and they are perfect to reuse.
The essential oils are optional but recommended. Hemp seed oil does not have the most pleasant smell, but some may like it as is. Some liquid castile soaps come with a scent already, so make sure that any essential oils you have play nicely with the established smell.
- Fill the foaming soap dispenser approximately 1/3rd full with liquid castile soap.
- Add a tsp of cold pressed hemp oil, 5 drops of vitamin E oil, and essential oils to change the scent.
- Fill most of the bottle with water. Leave room at the top for the top part of the dispenser. Check that it will still fit without water and soap overflowing before you reach the top.
- Tighten the lid and give it a good shake.
- Occasionally shake before use.
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is an inflammatory skin condition. Most of the time it appears as a rash. It is not contagious, but caused by a combination of genetic, immune, and environmental issues. It is related to, but separate from, psoriasis. While there is no cure, the current method of treatment is both topical and systemic (internal, such as pills or injections) anti-inflammatory medicines .
Most cases are mild, and are related to seasonal allergies or spurred by environmental stressors. Washing your hands much more often than usual is one of those environmental stressors! Preventing a flare up is easier and less painful than treating one. This soap recipe uses cold pressed hemp seed oil, which has been shown in some contexts to improve symptoms .
Hemp, or Cannabis Sativa, has a profound effect on our body’s endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system has a major, and yet still not completely understood, effect on the body’s inflammation response. Hemp contains cannabinoids, such as CBD, CBC, CBG, and THC. These cannabinoids have been shown to activate the endocannabinoid system, which then reduces systemic inflammation. Some cannabinoids have been observed bypassing the endocannabinoid system and directly stimulate our skin cells to decrease inflammation .
Cannabinoids also appear to disrupt the “itchy” signal. Eczema can be very itchy, and this sensation can even interrupt sleep. While the mechanism is not clear, hemp may stop the signal the rash sends to the brain to declare “I’m itchy!”. This, in turn, can improve sleep .
Lastly, Vitamin E is an important antioxidant. It reduces oxidative stress on our skin and heal damage which has already occurred . It is found in many commercial moisturizers and expensive face treatments. I used a pre-made, pre-diluted vitamin E oil which is available in the supplement or beauty section at most big box stores.
It may not seem like much, but the additional ingredients in this soap will protect your skin more than the harsh detergents used in most plain liquid soaps. The amount of hemp seed oil can be increased based on your needs, but I would hold back on increasing the amount of vitamin E oil or essential oils.
I have personally found that increasing the amount of liquid castile soap above 1/3rd of the total product makes it more likely to clog in the foaming parts of the dispenser. This is a personal anecdote, and may just depend on the type of dispenser.
* Please see FDA warning at beginning of the article.
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- Chovatiya, Raj, and Jonathan I Silverberg. “Pathophysiology of Atopic Dermatitis and Psoriasis: Implications for Management in Children.” Children (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 6,10 108. 4 Oct. 2019, doi:10.3390/children6100108 <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6826460/>
- Shalaby, Michael, et al. “Stirring the Pot: Cannabinoids and Atopic Dermatitis.” Practical Dermatology, Bryn Mawr Communications, Jan. 2018, <https://www.practicaldermatology.com/articles/2018-jan/stirring-the-pot-cannabinoids-and-atopic-dermatitis>
- Callaway, James, et al. “Efficacy of Dietary Hempseed Oil in Patients with Atopic Dermatitis.” Journal of Dermatological Treatment, vol. 16, no. 2, Apr. 2005, pp. 87–94., doi:10.1080/09546630510035832. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16019622>
- Nachbar, F., Korting, H.C. The role of vitamin E in normal and damaged skin. J Mol Med 73, 7–17 (1995). doi:10.1007/BF00203614 <https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00203614>