Maggie Wilson Author

Historical Non-Fiction in Northern Ontario

SoCS and a PSA – Hair

Things are getting a little hairy around here, in more ways than one.

Bloom County's Bill the Cat - Click for Source

Bloom County’s Bill the Cat – Click for Source


Do you remember Bill the Cat? From Bloom County? Famous for acking and cacking and spitting up hairballs?

Yeah, well, Oscar is giving Bill a run for the money.

To that end, (the front end) I am treating Oscar with a daily glob of hairball remedy – a natural concoction that smells like maple syrup.

To the other end, Reiner groomed booth cats. They now have lovely, glossy coats. And a new toy to play with! The hair from the brush packed down into a compact SOS-scouring-pad-sized ball. They love it! They’ve even taken to batting it back and forth, like a game of road hockey.


And this brings us to our PSA (Public Service Announcement):  Watch out for nasties in your shampoo!

Last year at the beginning of December, I felt “off my feed.” No surprise. It was flu season. It was Christmas Shopping Season. It was time for the assorted Christmas craft and bake sales at the library, and time for the Annual General Meetings for two of the local committees for which I volunteer. I’m right there, in with the throngs of people hacking and cacking and coughing up lungs.

Then my eyes started to water and itch, and I had a hard time focusing on what I was reading. I felt that pre-sickness prickliness – fatigued, sore throat, and just plain bleah.

But something else happened: I developed a rash on my face, at my nose, around my ears, and at my hairline. Up until now, I haven’t had much by way of allergic reaction to anything. What the hell was going on?

I treated my skin with an assortment of ointments, including Aloe Vera and an over-the-counter eczema remedy with colloidal oatmeal. Didn’t help.

Then, after talking with my cousin, I tried an over-the-counter hydro-cortisone ointment. That seemed to work.

The first of January, the flu finally caught up with me, and set me on my butt for a good two weeks. My immune system kicked into high gear and the rash eventually cleared up.

Until it returned this week. The dry skin, the itching, watery eyes.

What the hell?

Have I been exposed to something at the library? I volunteer once a week, and meet the patrons while I cover the circulation desk; I handle books and CD’s that have been touched by multitudes.

Or… could it be my new eyeglasses that I started to wear at the beginning of December? I had new lenses put into old frames. I called the optometrist yesterday to inquire.

She agreed that it is possible that the lens material and/or the coatings might be the cause, but I should continue to search for other reasons. Have I changed my routine?

What DIDN’T I change last year? I moved to a new house, to a new climate zone, to a mining town no less, one surrounded by potentially toxic minerals. I told her that I’d give it some thought.

Then Linda’s SoCS prompt came into my WP feed. “Hair.”

What about my shampoo? The shampoo that I buy, not because it works the best, but because it is the one that is on sale at the moment. What about that new brand I just started to use the first of December?

I typed “allergic reaction Dove Shampoo” into Google and this headline, dated YESTERDAY, believe it or not, from the Telegraph in the UK popped up:

Warning over ‘epidemic’ of skin allergies from chemical in cosmetics and household products

Feel free to skim the article copied below – I’ve formatted the text that stood out for me.

[Methylisothiazolinone] is used in a wide range of shampoos, moisturizers and shower gels as well as make-up and baby wipes.

But dermatologists warn people are being exposed to much higher doses than before, leading to a steep rise in allergies known as contact dermatitis where the skin becomes red and itchy and can sting and blister.

Experts say the chemical is second only to nickel in causing contact allergies. One in 12 adults and one in five children in the UK now have eczema, of which contact dermatitis is one of the most common types.

Methylisothiazolinone is a preservative which is also found in paint. It is added to products to prevent unwanted growth of bacteria and yeasts.

The substance is safe and non-toxic but European regulations now permit stronger concentrations than previously allowed.

Dr John McFadden, consultant dermatologist at St John’s Institute of Dermatology in London, said: “We are in the midst of an outbreak of allergy to a preservative which we have not seen before in terms of scale in our lifetime.

“Many of our patients have suffered acute dermatitis with redness and swelling of the face. I would ask the cosmetics industry not to wait for legislation but to get on and address the problem before the situation gets worse.”

The chemical was previously mixed with another preservative, Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI) in a three-to-one ratio.

But concerns about MCI causing allergies meant some manufacturers started using MI as a single agent. Used alone, it has been included at a much higher concentration.

When the two compounds were used, MI it was found in concentrations of around four parts per million (ppm). But on its own a level of up to 100ppm, a 25-fold increase, is allowed under European regulations introduced in 2005.

Experts say that since its concentration in products increased there has been a serious rise in cases of contact dermatitis, particularly in the last two years. They believe there is a link. [italics are mine]

Yes, my Dove shampoo contains these two potentially nasty ingredients.

Yes, I am going to replace it with a hypoallergenic product and hope that this thing clears up.

Thanks, Linda for the PERFECT prompt for today’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday.

Update February 11, 2017 – one week later – Garnier Fructis for the win. The rash has subsided. It would appear that I am sensitive to MI and MCI. 

Categories: In Other News

Tags: , ,

29 replies

  1. Very interesting. I have been plagued by a recurring rash on my scalp for awhile now – I bought Head and Shoulders but then began to notice that it was getting worse and covering a larger area. Last trip to the store I bought some Garnier Fructis, used it and the rash got better. In the interim, I had also used some hydrocortisone cream. Reading this, I went to check ingredients on those shampoos – both of the Meth… things you named are in the Head and Shoulders. Neither in Fructis. Coincidence? Perhaps not. I thank you for posting this – one more reason to always read ingredients, although those seem to be getting printed in smaller and smaller print.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sorry to hear that you can relate, but I’m also glad to hear that you can. It’s helpful to know that there are solutions! For instance, the Garnier line – I’ve enjoyed their products in the past.

      That small print! My eyes just about cross when I try to read those labels!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my goodness! I’ve been having the same problems with my scalp, face, neck, eyes that you describe. It started mid-December, and has come and gone since then. I thought the same thing you did, that I’d been in contact with someone who had infected me somehow with this rash. But reading what you shared above, I’d guess that I’m part of the contact dermatitis group who is allergic to MI. Amazing. Thanks for the info.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the heads up (sorry). I have had numerous adverse reactions to changes in soaps and laundry detergents, so this is good to know.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel your pain, Maggie. I’ve had an acute sensitivity to the various chemicals and dies used in personal care products for decades. I’ve had my eyes practically swell shut, painful rashes around my nose, and blisters in places you really don’t want blisters … all from soaps and cosmetics.

    I’m glad to hear you isolated the culprit rather quickly. Sometimes it can take a while. Last year I was completely baffled by a painful rash that had developed around my eyes. It took a few weeks and a completely unrelated conversation with a cosmetician to discover that the all-natural product I was using on my face contained an enzyme from apple &/or grape skins.
    Well, guess what? I’ve known for years that I MUST carefully avoid touching my face when I handle apples, grapes, or strawberries and immediately wash my hands afterwards. All three will cause almost instant itching and swelling of my eyes.

    Life would be so much simpler if I wasn’t so vain 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yikes, those are some severe allergic responses, and from ingredients that would otherwise be classified as “benign”. Unless, as in your case, they are anything but.

      I feel YOUR pain. Facial blemishes of any sort are hard to deal with emotionally. As I consulted Dr. Google about my particular concern, I stumbled upon Rosacea – and was overcome with mortification – what if my red blemishes are permanent? It was an eye-opener, this exercise, on several levels.

      I too hope I’ve found the reason for the rash. I was considering a buzz cut.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Unfortunately, I’ve been told that as we get older, our bodies continue to change in more ways than the obvious.
        Another one of them is an increasing sensitivity to things that used to be a non-issue.
        I try to avoid using the same product on my face more than 2 or 3 days in row in an attempt to avoid developing a new sensitivity. I even cycle through 3 different shampoos and body soaps.

        So far {knock on wood} I haven’t encountered problems with laundry detergent, but I have had issues with paper products like kleenex and tp.

        Liked by 1 person

        • What the heck? TP and tissue? Another blogger wrote that she connected her reaction to the cotton balls she use to remove makeup. Makes you wonder where it will end.


          • The bleaches used to whiten paper products, and the scents / moisturizers added, can be irritants for some people. Apparently I was one of them :/
            It was the worst during my late 20s and throughout my 30s. Now in my more ‘advanced’ years, I’m less sensitive to them … or else the industry has changed some of their processing methods.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Well, that’s interesting. I often have little flair ups of this sort of itchy, rashy, blistery thing and have long suspected exposure to even the minimal amount of chemicals I contact.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post, Maggie! I immediately read (with a magnifying glass) the labels on my shampoo & body wash. Phew…no MCI or MI in the products. I’m a label reader for food, and it’s amazing how many products have high fructose corn syrup in them. We stay away from that! Try to buy organic products with sugar way down on the list of ingredients. Time consuming however important to be vigilant! 🎶 Christine

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Well, damn. I just knew you were going to say you used Oscar’s hairball remedy and it cleared up your rash. Clearly, I am not the person to ask about anything medicinal…..

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I hope you found the culprit! Those things can be very difficult to track down… by the time you get a reaction, you can’t remember what you changed in your routine way back when. In addition, you can become allergic to something all of a sudden after using or eating it for years. And… the allergy can disappear just as mysteriously.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh I hope so too because, here’s the thing… the first really bad reaction happened while I was sitting on the couch, with the CATS. According to the eye doctor, cats are number one in terms of allergens. She also reminded me that these things comes, these things go…

      fingers crossed!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh Em Gee.
    Last month, I took the girls for a haircut and the stylist said we should be rotating our shampoos as we run out. So, last week, when our shampoo ran out, I bought new.
    And I have been suffering some serious neck rashes and itches. This is not uncommon for me… I’m not gonna bore you… I’m a delicate freakin flower.
    So I looked at the new shampoo, and Oh Em Gee! It’s in there! So I will be switching back tomorrow. What I had before was organic! I can’t wait to see if it clears up.
    I wonder how many times this chemical has been in my shampoo?!? Maybe these outbreaks aren’t as random as I had suspected?!?
    Thank you so very much for sharing this. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  10. In Dec my eye lids started turning red and pealing. I felt like Nancy Drew trying to track it down. I was sure it was the new eye make-up remover but no, I finally figured out it was a different brand of cotton balls I bought. Perhaps the way they bleach them? These things are preoccupying!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Wow. This is interesting, important and scary. I had no idea. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person


  1. Recognize Anyone Famous? – The Zombies Ate My Brains
  2. Share Your World – February 6 2017 – The Zombies Ate My Brains

Your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s