the winter streets are an en-counter with cold and damp, but inside city buildings the effect is sheer desert. With hot air fuming out of furnace grates, this is truly the season of the itch. There are decent remedies, but you have to read the labels -- if there are any --because some ingredients in the body lotion cornucopia are controversial enough to be avoided. If you don't know what's in the stuff, don't buy it and wait for Health Canada to make disclosure mandatory.
PETROL PEEVES The dilemma is whether we should be slathering fossil fuel products on our delicate dermal covering. I'm talking about the cosmetics industry's reliance on petroleum-based mineral oil and propylene glycol, used in other instances for antifreeze. Even some so-called "natural" creams aren't innocent of these afflictions.Many holistic experts maintain that these ubiquitous substances not only suck moisture out of the skin over time, but may contain carcinogens -- a charge flatly denied by the cosmetics industry and by many dermatologists who still recommend petroleum jelly. And even lanolin (from sheep's wool) is believed by cancer expert Dr. Samuel Epstein to be contaminated with DDT.
MOIST MIRACLESI don't travel more than 20 miles from my house without tea tree oil, the essential oil of the Australian melaleuca alternifolia tree, one of those delightful remedies for a hundred ailments. Pour 12 drops in the bath or mix 30 drops in half a cup of distilled water and apply directly to skin. Some swear by the ever-healing oatmeal. Sages suggest putting a couple of handfuls in some cheesecloth and then immersing in bath water, though I've had more luck with the commercial colloidal oatmeal product Aveeno. Make sure to avoid the one enriched with mineral oil -- and watch out for a treacherously slippery bathtub.
We usually hate oil slicks, but when they are bathmates made of the so-called floating oils -- olive, almond, jojoba, avocado -- they become sensual hydraters, although they aren't much good once your skin is already irritated.
Ointment from burdock root has also been touted as effective, along with swallowing capsules of evening primrose, blackcurrant or borage oils. All work magically, but they are the slow route since they take several weeks to have an effect.
EXPERTS"Most lanolins contain pesticides, mineral oil suffocates the skin, and propylene glycol can cause kidney damage. The industry says it's small (stuff), but we use these products over years."
"(Petroleum products) as an issue is minor. Certain people may have allergic reactions, but (in general) they don't pose health problems."
Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and
"Our best winter-itch product is Gator Balm, a combo of avocado and nut oils, herbs and vitamins.'
Bodycare manager, the Big Carrot
"You have to consider taking essential oils like flax and hemp oil. Also calendula cream applied topically will cure the problem and (eating foods) with vitamin A -- carrots and yams."