UCL News


UCL in the News: Over-scrubbing skin 'could cause allergies'

14 June 2007

Stripping the skin of a protective layer and allowing allergens to penetrate the skin could be causing not only eczema but allergic conditions such as hayfever, asthma and rhinitus, the two scientists the UCL Institute of Child Health[/Great Ormond Street Hospital] said.


The theory differs to the "hygiene hypothesis", which suggests that "too clean" homes could be causing a rise in allergies.

Writing about their findings in the journal Trends in Immunology, Professors Robin Callard and John Harper said there was little evidence to support that view and instead suggested that allergens could be crossing the skin barrier. …

Prof Callard … said the new theory was not about everyday normal washing but about "excessive rubbing" and the use of harsh products and scrubs.

He added: "Strong soaps strip oil off the skin, which is an integral component of the skin barrier. …

"We are not saying that people should not wash, but if they overdo it they can compromise the skin barrier."

'Daily Telegraph'