Tide said it best when they tagged ‘Go ahead, get dirty’. Summer is coming to an end and schoolyard shenanigans are beginning to pick up. Our kids are bound to come home with dirt on their faces and sand in their hair, and ‘bath-time’ will likely be a more common practice then the freedom we allowed during summer. However, there are a few things that are important to point out in regards to our soon to be ‘squeaky-clean children’.
BUBBLES – NOT WORTH THE RISK
Bath-time can sometimes be a fight and bubble baths may seem to be the key to making it easier; but is this option actually hurting your kids?
Bubble baths contain fragrances and surfactants that lower waters surface tension and cause it to foam. The chemicals added to cause this, and other products, to foam are called Sodium Lauryl Sulfates*. These ingredients can cause dryness and irritation. Bubble baths specifically have been known to cause or complicate dermatitis (itchy red skin that burns and stings), reoccurring dry skin, and eczema (dry, red, itchy patches). And that is just for adults!
On average, children’s skin is 30% thinner than adults and, therefore, absorbs chemicals faster and in greater amounts from the skins surface. Because of this, the side effects of bubble baths for children are much more damaging in the short and long term.
SOME SCARY STATS
Results from various studies suggest that bubble baths may play a larger role in our kids’ health than previously thought. Some common symptoms include:
-Vulvovaginitis (subjects 5mth-12yrs)
-Lower urinary tract infections
-Vaginal discharge in females
-Irritation of the genital area
The most common side effect to Bubble Baths is frequent urination. Why? The body recognizes Sodium Lauryl Sulfate as a toxin. As a result, the urethra causes frequent urination to help flush out the toxins that entered the body and that still remain on the skin post-bath. While the bubble baths may not always cause infections, they can certainly cause discomfort.
I am going to take a leap of faith and assume this is when you are now thinking ‘but I had bubble baths all the time as a child and never had any of these symptoms’. Like many other things in this day and age, products have become much more potent. A great example is cigarettes. Although they were never good for you, the chemicals and toxins that are in cigarettes now days far out number and outweigh the concoction used to fill the papers 50 years ago. So, like bubble bath, the ‘same’ product is almost as far from the ‘same’ as you can get.
One more scary fact that I would like to share is that 1,4-Dioxane and Formaldehyde have been found in many of the top selling and ‘big name brand’ products (and although we will not name any names here, you can check out The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (http://www.safecosmetics.org/article.php?id=426) for a list). And why didn’t you know about these chemicals in your soap? Easy. 1,4-Dioxane is not mentioned anywhere on the packaging. The law allows that by-products created during the manufacturing process do not have to be listed on labels (scary thing, since it is a carcinogen and increases our children’s cancer risk).
BUT THERE IS HOPE
Remember those studies and the major side effects? The conclusion of each of the studies stated that eliminating bubbles from baths allowed for the symptoms to resolve themselves in the majority of subjects.
The other plus is that just because ‘1,4-Dioxane’ is not listed on the label, ‘Sodium Lauryl Sulfate’ is, which is a fairly good indicator on whether the cancer-causing chemical is in your bath care products.
Furthermore, bubbles are not the only things that can make a bath fun. Sometimes a variety of different shaped containers, bottles, and natural food coloring are all that your little bath-chemist needs to enjoy their time in the soaker. For the younger guys the possibilities are endless**.
All in all, our health, and the health of our kids, is what matters most. Keep bath time safe by looking for natural soap products that do not contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfates and do your research on the by-products of your favorite soaps.
Note: Laundry detergents are yet another thing we should be causious of in our daily routines. Many of the top brands are chemically based and have been known to cause skin irritation. A great band to consider as a replacement is Nellie’s All-Natural Products. Nellies’ offers a variety of inexpensive chemical-free detergents and laundry-sheet-replacing dryer balls. As well, a much smaller quantity is needed per load so you are not only saving money, but the environment as well (something to consider).
*For a more in-depth look at the issue of Sodium Lauryl Sulfates and the products guilty of contributing to this health risk, please check out “Do you need the bubble?” http://blog.zenmed.com/the-bubble/.
**Some fun things for toddlers to do in the bath: http://www.babyzone.com/kids/kids-health-and-safety/toddler-bathtime-games_66469