Our skin is the largest organ in the human body. It’s sensitive to all sorts of external stimuli. And while it might seem like a solid barrier against chemicals that might do us harm, it’s actually quite porous. All sorts of compounds are absorbed by the skin and introduced directly into the bloodstream. We commonly think of our skin as a brick wall, but it’s more like a sponge, blocking some objects while drinking up others. Would you be comfortable building your house from sponge? Your skin’s permeability is helpful when it comes to medicines and other skincare treatments with beneficial results. But it also means we need to be careful what we rub onto our bodies because everything we apply to it may end up inside. This is why more and more parents are avoiding parabens in their kid’s shampoo products. Studies are mixed on these substances. Older studies found no appreciable risks, while newer investigations uncover dangerous properties that make people think twice about paraben safety. Concerned parents, particularly if their children have eczema issues, should choose shampoo for eczema that’s paraben-free. The same goes for paraben-free baby eczema cream — the risk associated with parabens and their skin-aggravating effects mean it’s worth steering clear of them. What the Science Says About Paraben Safety Parabens are potent preservatives that have been used in personal care products to extend their shelf life since the 1920s. Studies performed in the ‘50s found little reason for concern leading to an explosion in their use. However, some modern researchers have questioned the validity of those earlier studies, making the point that modern research methods are more inclusive of all possible dangers. Scientists have determined that parabens are endocrine disrupters, meaning they can interfere with the body’s normal hormone balance. More specifically, they mimic estrogen, leading to an increased risk for breast cancer and tumor development generally. Testosterone levels can also be impacted, leading to low sperm counts. In children, these dangers are amplified because of the vital role hormones play in their continuing development. Studies haven’t established an exact causal link between parabens and childhood issues, but the evidence is mounting that these compounds aren’t as safe as previously assumed. However, at the low percentage that parabens is found in cosmetics, the Expert Panel of the Cosmetic Ingredient Review, an internationally respected group of scientists, still affirms that this preservative ingredient is safe. The expert panel composed of dermatologists and toxicologists looked at male reproductive toxicity and various estrogenic activity studies to make this determination. In summary, when poring through internet research you will find some sources that will say parabens are bad and some that say parabens are just fine. Choose Paraben-Free Products Extending the shelf life of food is a worthy use of preservatives. It’s less clear whether extending the life of shampoos and cosmetics are worth the risk parabens may pose. This is doubly true for people that suffer from eczema. While the compounds can usually be applied to healthy skin without issue, they can cause allergic dermatitis on skin already damaged by injury or an active eczema flare-up. If you or your child suffers from eczema, choose an eczema cream that’s free of all parabens. The same holds for shampoos, body washes, and soaps of all stripes. The benefits from parabens don’t outweigh the risks. Educate yourself and make the best decision for your family’s safety.