EoE and Barrier Dysfunction from Detergents

I recently had a friend in the EoE (Eosinophilic Esophagitis) world forward me a recent research study about detergents such as Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate (also known as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or SLS) and their impact on the esophageal barrier. She had heard about this study at a recent conference. The research found that detergents can induce esophageal inflammation.

The research conclusion was “Detergents may be a key environmental trigger in EoE pathogenesis.” (You can read the research here.) This shocked me into looking into my cabinets to see how many products I use that contain SLS. I thought that I might find one or two, but I discovered that my toothpaste, hand soap, shampoo, dish soap and other items all contained SLS! I decided that if using products that contain this detergent could have anything to do with my EoE, I’m willing to find new SLS-free products and do one more thing to help myself heal.

It has taken me the better part of a month to find items that are truly SLS free. Part of the reason why SLS is put into so many products is to make the liquid lather up nicely, and that includes toothpaste. I was most concerned about finding a new toothpaste, because I have had so many reactions to anything new put into my mouth. I haven’t been able to use mouthwash since I was diagnosed with EoE and MCAS (Mast Cell Activation Syndrome) without getting canker sores and/or having terrible itching. I was thrilled to find mint flavored toothpaste by the company, Hello, that I can tolerate! No reaction whatsoever. Also, I can get it at my local Whole Foods store, which is an added benefit. (There is also a fluoride free version of this toothpaste.)

Many products made by companies that you would think would be free of SLS aren’t as safe as I thought. Seventh Generation has SLS in some of their dish soaps, but not all. Tom’s of Maine is the same with some of their toothpastes. I searched “SLS free” products on Amazon, and found sodium lauryl sulfate listed in the ingredients of the product even though the search pulled it up as safe. I’ve learned to carefully read all the ingredients, and to not trust Amazon’s search algorithm!

If you’re like me where you’re very committed to certain products because your sensitive skin can tolerate them, finding products without SLS that you can tolerate can be quite a feat! I’ve had atopic dermatitis to coconut oil, so Dr Bronner’s pure castile liquid soap was a no go. I went through numerous SLS free hand soaps getting eczema and rashes before I decided to continue to use what I know works for me – Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar (also known as a soap bar!) I now have a soap dish by every sink in my house for me to deposit my soap bar after use. To date, it’s the only SLS free hand soap that I can use.

Shampoo was also very difficult to find without SLS and without coconut oil. My hair stylist suggested this product, and it has worked great for me and even lathers up! I was able to find it on Amazon.

Lastly, I found dish soap from Better Life that I had used before and just got lazy by picking up products at Costco. Of course, all of those products have SLS in their ingredients. The Better Life dish soap also comes unscented, but surprisingly this scented dish soap doesn’t bother me!

I’m now actively engaged in protecting my skin barrier and my esophageal barrier with the use of these products! If you’ve found others that work well for you, tell me about them at [email protected]

PS – I have not been paid to endorse any of these products. They are suggested based upon my experience. PLEASE make your own decisions of changing products to SLS free based upon what works best for you, which may be different products depending upon your own sensitivities!