Are Shielding Lotions the Newest Tool in Your Gardener’s Shed?

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User testimonials suggest its effectiveness against gardening hazards when paired with other preventative measures

During gardening season, the hazards are many. There are the usual battles with poison ivy, oak and sumac, and with so many bacteria and irritants residing in the soil, it’s no wonder gardeners are seeking solutions to protect their health. Could shielding lotions be the answer?

Gloves typically protect gardeners against the usual gardening offenders, however due to reduced dexterity or irritation from the materials used, many gardeners choose not to wear gloves, leaving them vulnerable. Now, user testimonials and studies measuring the effectiveness of shielding lotion against dry skin and common household irritants, like chlorine bleach, suggest its use as an added protection to the usual preventative measures when working in the garden.

"Based on data I have seen so far," says Dr. Lisa Benest, a dermatologist with a successful practice in Burbank, Calif., "shielding lotions, like Skin MD Natural, seem to reduce the skin’s contact with the urushiol found in poison oak, ivy and sumac, as well as other irritants found in soil. As expected, we are seeing reports of reduced incidents of these contact dermatitis cases in individuals who use it regularly prior to gardening."

Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac, contrary to popular myth, are not contagious. The rash is actually an allergic reaction to urushiol, the resin from the leaves, stems and root of the plants. Its appearance of spreading is likely due to different thicknesses in skin, taking longer for the resin to absorb into the thicker forearms, legs, and trunk. Contaminated surfaces can remain toxic up to five years if not washed. A shielding lotion’s healing properties and ability to bond with the skin’s outer layer to help provide a protective barrier against external irritants, may slow absorption or minimize exposure to the most common gardening toxins.

"In north Texas, our guys work in brush and vegetation. We were taking the guys in to the doc frequently for rashes and skin problems that turned out to be poison ivy and oak," says Neil Renton, Health Safety & Environmental Assistant for Dawson Geophysical, Inc., a seismic mapping company for the oil and gas industry. "Then we learned about shielding lotions, so I ordered a case and started handing it out to the guys in the field. So far this year, we’ve not had any cases of poison ivy or oak, and shielding lotions have really helped reduce our medical expenses and doctor visits."

Avoiding exposure to garden hazards is the best defense. However, a shielding lotion, like Skin MD Natural, when used with preventative measures, such as learning which toxic plants to avoid, wearing protective clothing, and washing skin and surfaces soon after contact with toxins, may greatly reduce a gardener’s risk of exposure to toxins and associated skin disorders.

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Pete Grimaldi
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