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"I haven't washed with soap for twenty years"

Last week, in Bournemouth, Michelle, Louis and Ivan from the Chiropody Surgery attended the College of Podiatry’s Annual Conference. Every year, we attend to make sure we are up to date on all things foot related and practising to a high level. The event has over 100 lectures and lecturers from all around the world on a diverse range of topics.

This year, it was good to meet up with a colleague from Oxfordshire, Dr George Moncrieff (in video below) a general practitioner who is the chair of the Dermatology Council for England. George was reflecting on what a year it had been for him in the media spotlight. An off-the-cuff remark about the fact he hasn’t used soap for 20 years sparked media interest and ended up in the Daily Mail and an interview with Holly and Phillip Schofield on ITV daytime.

He was clear to point out that he washes every day but doesn’t use any detergents, soaps or shampoos. Why? Well, all these products can strip the outer layer the skin of its natural oils making the skin more sensitive to irritation, allergy and dryness. As George pointed out – any shower or bath product that lathers or bubbles will remove the skin natural oils and fats making it dry. Particularly in infants, drying of the skin this has been a suggested as a reason why we have seen a dramatic rise in eczema and other allergies, as we tend to over bathe and apply these products.

This is particularly important to feet and legs. As we most often shower and apply these products, by gravity they ultimately run down onto our legs and feet. Unfortunately, we rarely rinse our legs and feet as well as we do our head, body and hair, so products can remain on the skin and continue to cause irritation. Most often in adults, this appears as persistent dryness of the skin.

What can you do to prevent this? Well, “soap substitutes” or “wash products” do exist (you will find them at the chemist). Respected brands included Doublebase, Aveeno, Eucerin, QV and Dermol. Washing using these products instead of soap adds, not removes, moisture from our skin leaving it soft and smooth. One thing to bear in mind though, when you use these you will notice they don’t bubble or lather but that’s a good thing!

A video with Dr Moncrieff explaining this is available below.

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