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Christmas cleaning & your skin

Be careful this season...

By Ngozi Liverpool

'Tis the season to be jolly… but you must also be aware especially if you are prone to or have had skin irritations and rashes in the past or simply if you have sensitive skin. The Christmas season not only find sparks with fireworks but the use of many household cleaning agents/products can spark harmful irritants into the air and your skin's pores.

Whilst it is extremely necessary to clean and de-clutter your homes, please use preventative measures to maintain your skin's health during this festive season. Those with acne, dermatitis, broken capillaries, psoriasis, millia, and rosacea, oily, dry, dehydrated and sensitive skin, should take the necessary precautions when cleaning out their homes, gardens, yards, refrigerators and even putting up their Christmas Trees. But be careful because, excessive face washing with soaps strips the skin of its natural oils and if prolonged can cause cracking and bleeding especially if the skin is sensitive or suffers from broken capillaries. You ought to cleanse your skin twice per day only using lukewarm water only.

The chemicals used in most household cleaners can have an irritating effect on the skin and body especially those found in all- purpose cleaners, dish and laundry detergents, window cleaners, furniture polish, drain cleaners and toilet disinfectants.

• One ought to wear protective gloves when handling substances such as ammonia, butoxyethanol, monoethanalamine, diathenolamine, triethanolamine, nonylphenolethoxylates, phosphates, silica powder and sodium hydroxide, commonly known as 'lye', which can all be found in household cleaners such as oven, window, bathroom, surface cleaners, deodorisers, disinfectants, abrasive cleaning powders, fabric softeners and degreasers.

• A good practice when using these products is to cover your skin, leaving openings for your eyes, mouth and nose, with plastic wrap. This actually helps hydrate the skin too as it forces the pores to sweat bringing moisture to the skin's surface.

• Also you can use face masks.

• Cover your head and hair especially if you suffer from psoriasis in the scalp. Many skin conditions are triggered when the hair/scalp develops irritations and come into contact with the skin/face.

Chemicals can enter our bodies by absorption through the skin or through ingestion of household dusts and chemical residues left behind. You should look for/be mindful of specific words on cleaning products such as corrosive, irritant and poison. Poison ivy, oak and sumac are three of the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis, but more importantly, for our purposes the use of the above mentioned products can cause irritant contact dermatitis. Please note that the handling of some plants and soil can also cause irritant contact dermatitis whose symptoms include red rashes, blisters, hives and painful, itchy burning skin. Some simple at-home remedies for such include the use of calamine lotion, oatmeal baths, the use of Benadryl to relieve the itching, hydrocortisone creams can be used for mild cases and other creams containing Zinc such as Desitin.

Finally Christmas trees that have been stored away for an entire year can spark intense allergies, asthma and bring bacteria and dusts into the environment which can irritate the skin once more. Remember to cover you hair/head and use your face mask. Once you are finished putting your Christmas tree up, take a warm bath using a bucket and place one cap of salvon or Dettol within the water to soothe your skin and help sanitise your pores from germs and bacteria that can spark allergic reactions. You may also bathe with 'blue soap' while so doing. So be merry, but be safe and aware this Christmas.

Ngozi Liverpool is a professional aesthetician and consultant specialising in skin conditions… zinghyz@gmail.com/476-0470

(for serious enquiries only)

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