Q: After suffering with facial inflammation – which was unresponsive to topical steroid creams – I think cyclopentasiloxane (CPS), a silicone found in hair products, is the culprit. I was diagnosed with contact dermatitis but I have read that CPS has been linked to cancer and allergies.
A: CPS is from a family of silicones used to make hair shiny and supple. It is also used in deodorants, sun creams and some skincare items. I understand your concerns about long-term damage, which I suspect may stem in part from the current issues with silicone breast implants. But there is a difference between silicone implants – which if ruptured migrate into tissues of the body – and applying silicone topically.
CPS is a large molecule that is unlikely to get through the skin barrier. A review of CPS and related compounds in the International Journal of Toxicology found ‘minimal percutaneous absorption was associated with these ingredients and the available data do not suggest skin irritation potential’.
‘Cyclopentasiloxane has not been shown to cause cancer,’ says toxicologist Dr Christopher Flowers from the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association. ‘The stringent European cosmetics laws require safety assessments for all cosmetic products before they are made available to the public.’
CPS does not ‘pose a risk for human health when used in cosmetic products’, says the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety, but almost any substance has the potential to produce an allergic reaction in certain people. Ask your doctor for a referral to receive a patch test. This will confirm if it is indeed CPS that you react to. You need to know the exact cause of your contact dermatitis so you can avoid products containing the ingredient in the future.
In the meantime, take antihistamines and apply natural gels to inflamed or itchy skin. Try Optima Healthcare Organic Aloe Vera Skincare Gel (£5.55). A supplement called Aller-DMG (£15.90) may also help. It contains perilla, a natural antihistamine from the mint family. For haircare try Botanical Therapeutics Shampoo & Body Wash with the Botanical Conditioner (£14.95 each). To reduce frizz try a hairdryer with ionic technology, such as John Frieda Salon Shape Air Styler (£39.99, boots.com).
On two recent trips to Australia, I took a homeopathic remedy for jet lag, which really worked. JetZone Jet Lag Prevention, £13.40 for 30 chewable tablets, combines six remedies to help ease symptoms including insomnia, fractiousness and that sense of dislocation. I didn’t suffer any significant jet lag either way.
The Easy-On-The-Palate Awards
Millions of people suffer from food allergies and intolerance conditions such as coeliac disease and digestive problems including Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Sufferers need to know what ingredients are in their food and avoid the ones that do not suit them. Increasingly food manufacturers are rising to the challenge of producing foods that exclude common ingredients, such as wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs, yeast, soya and sugar, that are associated with health problems. Some are delicious, others not.To help you choose, Foods Matter – a respected source of information – runs the FreeFrom Food Awards. The shortlist is available at freefromawards.co.uk – winners will be announced on 17 April.
BOOK OF THE WEEK
The Copper Tree by Hilary Robinson, £6.99*. Author of more than 40 storybooks, children’s writer Hilary composed this illustrated story for four to seven-year-olds when she was faced with telling her own children about their beloved aunt’s terminal illness and subsequent death. The Copper Tree takes readers through the dying process as well as the grief that follows. According to childhood bereavement charity Winston’s Wish a child loses a parent every 22 minutes in the UK – that’s 24,000 children a year – and many more are affected by the loss of someone close, such as a sibling, friend, grandparent or significant person (such as a teacher) in their life. This book may help prepare young children for the loss, cope with the event and overcome their bereavement afterwards. For more information, visit thecoppertree.org.