Think Enzymes are bad for sensitive skin? Think again!
There is a commonly held belief that enzymes are bad for sensitive skin. Many Internet sources say enzymes are harmful for baby skin, and of course, that is really worrisome to parents. But – well, it’s the Internet. I like science, evidence and sources rather than believing everything I read. What I’ve found is that the information I know about from science, and the majority of the Internet sources, conflict with one another on the subject of enzymes for sensitive skin.
First off, what are enzymes anyway?
Enzymes are the main tools which all living things, including plants, depend upon in order to regulate metabolic activity. Enzymes exist in our bodies – breaking down food and transporting nutrients throughout the body. Enzymes are actually proteins and there are over 3,000 different kinds that do different tasks. In our bodies they aid in digestion, transport toxins, they purify our blood and they rebuild tissue. Most importantly, they assist in breaking down food so our body can access the vitamins and minerals essential to keeping us healthy. If your body is deficient in enzymes it reflects in the immune system which can present itself in the skin! Enzyme deficient people can have flare-ups of numerous skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, eczema, and even psoriasis.
Enzymes also exist in plants and perform similar functions in terms of breaking down nutrients and transporting them throughout the plant. A study was recently released that said that enzymes in plants help prevent and undo UV damage – otherwise plants would get “sunburned.”
Enzymes for laundry: How does this relate to laundry? When you get a stain that can’t be removed by regular laundering, enzymes are the answer as they will selectively “eat” stains. There are enzymes that will specifically eat particular types of stains, like those from grass, grease, etc. Many laundry detergents contain enzymes so the user is pouring them into their laundry machine whether or not they are needed. Most stain treatment sticks, gels or sprays contain enzymes specific to hard-to remove stains.
I believe there is a lot of misinformation about using enzymes for laundry. I’ve done a lot of research and I haven’t been able to find a credible source or any kind of a study that found that enzymes hurt skin.
I think this idea that enzymes hurt skin came about as many of the regular detergents that use enzymes also use other agents like optical brighteners and SLS which can irritate skin and cause allergic reactions and rashes. Skin is partially made up of protein, and one of the hardest to remove stains are protein stains (poop!). The name of the enzyme that eats proteins is called Protease (Pro-tea-ase). One without a science background could conclude that protease would not distinguish between skin and stains since both have protean.
This little snippet is floating around the internet in various forms:
the idea that the skin is partially made up of protein. But enzymes don’t digest healthy living skin cells, but rather they selectively digest dead or diseased protein without harming living cells. This is why enzymes can exist within our bodies. Part of their job is helping to maintain healthy cells and clearing dead ones away. If enzymes didn’t distinguish between healthy and dead cells, we’d be eaten alive! Protease enzymes even exist in our own saliva – but children don’t get allergic itchy rashes from the enzymes when sucking their thumbs.
A U.S. study of hundreds of babies indicated the type of [enzyme] powder used did not affect the development of nappy rash or the severity of the condition.
Tests on almost 6,000 adults revealed that biological powder was no more harmful to the hands than enzyme-free products.
German experiments focusing on the enzymes rather than the powders showed they did not irritate skin, even when it was slightly broken and the contact lasted for several days
Dr Sarah Wakelin, a dermatologist at St Mary’s Hospital in London and one of the researchers, said: “What we have found is that ultimately, the balance of all the enzymes in laundry detergents are not a cause of either skin irritation or skin allergy.
“Investigations of numerous individuals with skin complaints attributed to laundry products demonstrated convincingly that enzymes were not responsible.
“Thus, the supposed adverse effects of enzymes on the skin seem to be a consequence of mythology.”
The views, opinions, depicted results and experiences expressed in this article and in user-submitted comments are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Eco Nuts and may not be representative or typical of the product under actual conditions or use as directed. User comments are not edited for accuracy or safety. The statements made in this article are meant to be educational and not as a guide to treat or cure any disease or illness.