My friend Barbara wrote a post about skin last week, about how it acts as a protective barrier against germs and toxins. But most of us also know (or believe) that skin is permeable; the degree of permeability is sometimes debated, apparently.
But if you’re the parent of a keto kid, you probably don’t care about the debate much. You might think it strange, but we worry about our kids absorbing carbohydrates through their skin. Here’s a interesting “whodunit” kind of story that is also a cautionary tale…
Michelle lived in the city but, during the summer, the family spent weekends at their beach house. She did well on the diet throughout the winter, with a marked decrease in seizure frequency. In the summer she again began having increased seizures, although only on weekends. The family would go to their summer house on Fridays. By Saturday, Michelle’s ketones would be low, and her seizures would increase. Her parents turned themselves inside out attempting to find the reason. They checked the foods, the environment, and finally decided she must be allergic to the beach and their pool. They were about to sell the house.
At last, together with a nurse from Johns Hopkins, they again went over everything they did on Friday and Saturday. “When we arrived at the beach, we lathered Michelle with suntan lotion,” they told the nurse. Aha! They checked the suntan lotion label: It was in a sorbitol base. Apparently, enough sorbitol was absorbed through Michelle’s skin to affect her ketones and alter her seizure threshold! After switching to a sorbitol-free suntan lotion, the family continued taking Michelle to the beach with no recurrence of seizures.
from The Ketogenic Diet, by John M. Freeman et al. — 4th edition
The online keto forums often have questions from new keto parents about which toothpastes, skin creams, and shampoos are “keto safe”. Some parents even make their kids wear vinyl or latex gloves (and it’s not easy finding them in kids’ sizes!) when playing with play dough, finger paints, or other potentially carbohydrate-laden substance.
We let Jade play with play dough (she has to wash her hands afterward, though!) but I have found the skin cream thing to be more difficult.
We’ve a very dry climate up here in the Yukon, so lotion is a must. I’ve used a variety of very plain lotions, but have never really been happy about their ingredients. I’ve tried straight coconut oil, but it is (unsurprisingly) greasy on the skin, and I don’t find it absorbs very well all on its own. There are a few places in town that make natural skin creams but to it costs too much to keep all the skin in our family covered.
I have started to experiment with making my own lotions. The first two batches I made were a lovely consistency but started growing mold within a week. Yech! Just before Christmas, I tried a third time, sterilizing all my equipment and adding some natural anti-fungal ingredients (rosemary, lavender, and grapefruit seed extract) and — hurrah! — that seems to have solved the mold problem. But after a few weeks, the water and oil started separating too much. So it’s back to the drawing board for me… but I’m close, I can feel it!
The one thing that’s really causing me to procrastinate is, well, it’s no fun to wash lotion off spoons, measuring cups, and blender blades. And this time I won’t have my mom to help me.
And you know, since we’re on the subject of skin, I read another really interesting post about skin this week, written my my gal, the one and only Scientific Chick: Dogs have owners, cats have staff, and children have rashes. Click on over there. With a title like that, you know it’s going to be a fun read. It even starts with a cartoon.