Deodorant Doubts

I’ve been playing around with the idea of a newsletter concerning which beauty and hygiene products are safe for Chronic Kidney Disease patients. (Free feel to ‘steal’ the idea.)  Here’s why: every day I use deodorant and every time I pick up the container I’m reminded of the warning on it, “Ask a doctor before use if you have kidney disease.”warning

I did just that about three years ago. At first, my nephrologist was seemingly annoyed at the question, almost as if no one had ever asked him that before. (Is that possible?) I imagine he had his P.A. check a deodorant container because he did have her call me back to say that was only for late stage CKD.  Notice there’s no explanation in that message and, yep, this is the nephrologist I no longer see.

Last week, I did the marketing as I usually do lately since Bear is waiting for surgery on his foot and having a hard time walking much less carrying.  Deodorant was on the list I’d written. I picked up one brand, then another, and a third.  I decided to look at all the brands available and they all had that same warning. Why had I never researched this before?

Good question.  I’m a firm believer in it’s never too late.  Rather than a discussion of which brands are safe for those of us with kidney disease, I’ll be going into the mechanics (if that’s the right word) of deodorant and kidney disease.

exercisingI found a clear explanation of just what function deodorant serves. “Contrary to popular opinion, most deodorants do not just cover up odor with fragrance. They actually have antiseptic properties that work to kill bacteria, which is what causes odor to begin with.” Thank you

According to Dr. Nathalie Beauchamp in a January, 2010, article at, the culprit is, “Propylene Glycol – found in thousands of cosmetic products – to help moisturize. It is also an ingredient used in anti-freeze and brake fluid, so it’s no surprise that it could cause liver abnormalities and kidney damage.”

I was surprised since I’d always assumed it was the aluminum in the deodorant that was the problem.  It made sense to me that, since American women tend to shave their underarms, ingredients are more easily absorbed into the skin, build up in the body, and then cannot be easily excreted by already compromised kidneys.  Although, according to the article above, aluminum may contribute to Alzheimer’s. Apparently, it builds up in the brain. Shows you what I know… or thought I know!

But then I found The American Association of Kidney Patients post from a 2008 article by Dr. Nathan Levin in RENALIFE, “Most of the antiperspirants and some deodorants contain aluminium (Al), which is absorbed by the skin (Flarend et al – Food Chem Toxicol, 2001). In healthy people, it gets eliminated by the kidney, but for people with reduced function, Al will accumulate in the body. Albeit unusual, this could lead to dementia (Carpenter et al. – Int J Occup Med Environ Health, 2001), anemia and bone disease (Jeffery et al. – J Toxicol Environ Health 1996).”aluminum

So now we know the build-up of aluminium is also a problem.  This goes right back to compromised kidneys not being able to eliminate the chemical that enters our bodies via the skin.  As mentioned earlier in this blog, women are at risk since they shave their underarms (leaving very small cuts in the skin), but men are also at risk.  The chemical is applied to the skin, is absorbed, and builds up.

I did find a reason for the warning against antiperspirants, but keep in mind that these actually close the pores through which sweat is exuded and are not quite the same as deodorants which work on bacteria once the sweat has already been exuded.

In general, the new warning statement is meant for patients with kidney disease who may not be able to excrete the low levels of aluminum in the body that may result from antiperspirant use. This would be individuals with advanced chronic kidney disease (corresponding clinically to stage 4 or stage 5 chronic kidney disease1). Such individuals have approximately 30% or less of their original normal kidney function.  If you have any questions about whether you have such a chronic reduction in your kidney function, you should discuss it with your doctor.”

The entire warning and discussion of it can be found at: which is on the website of the American Society of Nephrology.

If you’d like to do more research yourself, take note that I got very few hits when I used ‘Chronic Kidney Disease and deodorant,’ but quite a few with ‘CKD and deodorant.’

On another note entirely, I’ve been talking quite a bit about SlowItDown, my project to bring CKD education by trained educators on a monthly basis for free to any community that needs it.  This is all part of my passion to spread this information, as are the Facebook pages and twitter accounts for SlowItDown and What Is It and How Did I Get It? Early Stage Chronic Kidney Disease. Come to think of it, so is this blog.Book Cover

I did tell you that when I researched inexpensive CKD information for readers in Germany and India who requested it, my book was the first item on both lists, right?  I’m pretty sure I told you that when a nephrologist from India contacted me for ways to get the information into his destitute patients hands, I figured out I could send him the first issues of the blog – which were the book – for him to translate and leave in nephrology offices and clinics for the patients to read or have read to them.

Amazon is starting a really helpful program for their Kindle. (By the way, although I am an aficionado of REAL books, I also have already worn out one Kindle.) If an author chooses, you can buy a greatly reduced in price edition of the digital book when you purchase a print copy of the book.  I chose it. As it stands now, the print book is $12.95 and the digital edition is $9.95.  Once the program is in place, the print book will still be $12.95, but the digital edition you can buy when you purchase the print book is only $2.95.  Many thanks to Amazon for yet another way to get the word about CKD out to the people who need it.Kindle

Until next week,

Keep living your life!


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