More than skin-deep

21 Jan

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.

18 Responses to “More than skin-deep”

  1. kara January 21, 2011 at 6:43 am #

    How interesting! I never would have thought of absorbing it through the skin at all.

    I have yet to use any moisturizers on the boys in winter. They have sensitive skin, so we actually just bathe them much less frequently than summer- as in maybe once every five days. I know, that makes me sound like a bad mom! But their skin is great- we have no dryness problems at all.

    • Fawn January 21, 2011 at 9:00 am #

      Maybe they have naturally oily skin. I bathe the girls about once a week, so I must be even worse than you. 😉 (But we do the important bits with a washcloth or diaper wipes in between!)

      By and large, though, I think most North Americans bathe far too often.

      I don’t have to put lotion on the girls every day, either, but they can’t go entirely without, especially after bathing.

  2. Laura January 21, 2011 at 9:15 am #

    I love Dream Cream from LUSH
    I have always had very sensitive skin and had to be careful about bath and skin products (and sunscreen and bug spray). (I agree with both of you about bathing too much). Dream Cream smells terrific (herbal not floral) and has some of the ingredients you have already tried.

    • Fawn January 21, 2011 at 9:46 am #

      Thanks, Laura! I checked out that link. I really like that Lush lists all its ingredients AND explains them — that’s fantastic! I’m trying to avoid glycerine (which is debatable as a carb) and parabens, and I probably don’t even want to use oat milk. I know, I know, I’m crazy.

  3. Nita January 21, 2011 at 10:25 am #

    What about plain old olive oil? Audrey Hepburn swore by it – and every Italian grandma uses it. Just beware: a little goes a long way – put a drop in your palm & rub your hands together, then rub your hands over your body. Or add a drop or two into the bath water.

    • Laura January 21, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

      My mother swore by Olive Oil to prevent stretch marks when she was pregnant. What about Traumeel? I know someone who uses it as a moisturizer for her kids.

      • fawnahareo January 21, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

        Traumeel is mostly petroleum jelly. Again, something I’m trying to avoid. (Picky, picky, picky!)

    • Tine January 21, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

      I tried that, too – it’s supposed to be the perfect skin cream & keeps your skin really young !! (I learned it needs to be cold-pressed olive oil, though !!)

      ♥ ♥ ♥

  4. fawnahareo January 21, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

    We only ever buy cold-pressed olive oil, anyway. It’s one of the ingredients in my homemade lotion (the others are coconut oil, beeswax, water, vitamin E oil, and the aforementioned oils and extracts).

    Olive oil all on its own is certainly a lot simpler! Isn’t it messy, though? I still prefer something creamier for using on my hands, too.

    Sorry, I’m truly not trying to be argumentative!

  5. fawnahareo January 21, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    Also, I should add that for my own FACE, I’m a hypocrite who totally uses commercial creams. But my babies should only get nutritious natural stuff that don’t contain petroleum products and preservatives. LOL

  6. Captain Momma January 21, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    Have you tried Rose Hip Oil? I use Kosmea Australian brand for my face. It absorbs very easily and wouldn’t be as greasy as olive oil. A drop goes a long ways and it soaks right in, no waiting. At least it may be a good ingredient with the rest?

    No idea if it would have carbs…

    • fawnahareo January 21, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

      If it’s 100% oil, it has no carbs. 🙂 Sounds lovely!

  7. Rachel January 21, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

    Hi Fawn. I see you are still trying the handmade lotion. Sorry that I haven’t been able to be more helpful. I personally use straight hazelnut oil on my face as it is supposed to be good for acne prone skin and it doesn’t feel greasy. Also, jojoba oil is supposed to be very similar to skin sebum. It is a liquid wax and I am not sure if it is suitable. I hope you find what you are looking for soon. I personally just make smaller batches in case it doesn’t work out or separates.

  8. Amanda January 21, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    I read the link that you provided. Laura has bad excema. At first we thought it was genetic because Steph had bad excema when he was young. But we may have found part of the cause. Dog allergies. It really sucks because Laura absolutely adores Marley. We don’t know 100% but when we “lent” Marley to my sister for our amateur experiment, Laura’s skin improved almost immediately. However, her skin is getting bad again. She’s seen the doctor/nurses but every time the appointment comes, her skin gets a better so the medical staff don’t see the extent of it. We bath her every other night. And moisturize twice a day. Even with all that moisturizer (glaxobase and/or vaseline cream), her skin still feels like sandpaper. 😦

  9. Barbara January 21, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

    I’m learning so much here! I will for sure include this post in one of mine.

    I’m wondering about the effects on me – middle aged and trying to avoid sugar for typical health reasons. I will be checking-out some of the suggestions here.

    We have an appliance called (seriously) a thunderstick. What if you bought one just for mixing lotion?

  10. Rachel January 21, 2011 at 10:41 pm #

    Fawn, if you see anything on Mountain Rose Herbs that you like let me know as I put in regular orders. They have interesting oils (Tamanu oil anyone which is supposed to cure just about every skin condition?…lol.) I order from them a lot as they have a lot of organic items.

  11. Scientific Chick January 24, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    Heh, thanks for the link. Finding quality cosmetics can be a nightmare. Next time you’re in Vancouver, you should stop by Capers (4th and Vine). They have an excellent selection of natural skin care products. Alternatively, I can suggest moving to Australia for those winter months. 🙂

  12. Helen January 29, 2011 at 10:54 am # name is Helen and will be coming to Whitehorse to learn dog sledding in February. As I live in California, I am hoping that all of you could give me advice on a body lotion for the dryness that I will be experiencing!!!!

    Thanks in advance.

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