When I was four years old my family moved to S. Korea as tent-maker missionaries. My parents taught at an international school there, ministering to the students. Korean culture is a bit different about sanitation than Americans are. They are stricter in some areas, and much more relaxed in others. Well, my mom, now mom to three very young children in a foreign country was very protective. My brother, three when we moved, liked to touch everything and then stick his hands in his mouth. I was four, and my sister was only six weeks old! Besides, were we to get sick, there was the problem of communication with the doctors! (Which we were to discover later, resulting in a very cool and frightening story, but that story will have to wait for another time.) Therefore, from a very young age we were drilled in germ prevention. Hand-sanitizer was never far away, and woe be to you if you didn’t wash your hands before every meal and every time you went to the bathroom- or really at every opportunity.

After a decade of this constant training, it is very ingrained in me. Well, a few months ago my dad, sister, and I were waiting in the cell phone lot at the airport to pick up my mom and brother. It had been a long drive, and I went to use the porta-potty. Without thinking, I used the hand-sanatizer available and returned to the car. AHHHH! Oh, that BURNED!!! My hands itched, they burned, it was horrible! And there was nothing I could do about it because we were in the airport cell phone lot. (I did eventually empty a water bottle on it to rinse it off, which helped.)

chemical sensativity gollum screaming it burns us

At some point after that I was cutting up jalapenos. Now everyone knows not to touch their eyes at all for the next few hours after such an activity, but of course I repeatedly forgot (rubbing milk in my eyes actually helped in that situation). Oh well. However, it went way beyond that. My hand began burning. Not a normal reaction. I cannot verbally describe the agony. It was awful! And it just kept getting worse. In an effort to draw out the jalapeno residue I took a detox bath. I let one hand be submerged under the water (agonizing!), but I didn’t put the other one under, I wanted to hold my Kindle. (Believe me, I needed a distraction from the agonizing pain if I was to stay in the bath the proper time.) Laying in bed an hour later, I regretted the bath very much. It had only made it worse, especially for the hand that had been submerged. It was burning, it was pulsing, swelling, and it was hot to the touch. A bowl of ice water ended up helping a little, but I learned a lesson that day.

A few days after that, when my hand had barely stopped throbbing, I was faced with a pan that I just couldn’t scrub all the food out of. So I used some baking soda. Bad idea. It wasn’t as bad as the jalapenos, but it was definitely not an experience I want to duplicate.


Needless to say, I have had to rethink some of my habits recently. Instead of the well-disciplined hand washing, I have to do all possible to avoid using regular soaps. Of course, when I forget it is always up a mountain or something where there is no way to wash it off. πŸ™‚ Keeping a safe hand-sanatizer in my purse has been one step that has helped. Chemicals bombard us from all directions, and they are extremely hard to avoid on this planet. But why do they bother people who have mold specifically? Well, they bother others for various reasons, besides the fact that we were not created to be constantly breathing in care fumes and such. But most mold people have to deal with Multiple Chemicals Sensitivity (MCS) regardless. The reason is that our body has been so overwhelmed with trying to filter out the mold toxins, that we can’t handle any other toxins- even stuff that other people normally could- including chemical toxins. I mean, think of it this way: A blender can only handle so much stuff crammed into it until it either breaks of explodes. Sometimes I think we do both: break and explode. πŸ™‚


There are two main ways that we can get exposed to chemicals: through our skin- through touch, and by breathing it. Now this particular post is about exposure through touch, but I’ll explore breathing it some other time.

Now obviously, you can’t just not use soap- ewww! Plus, you really do need to wash yourself thoroughly often because of mycotoxins (which, again, I’ll address another time). Not to mention, how are you supposed to clean the shower? Or toilet? Or counters? What about hairspray, lotion, or shampoo? From lots of trial and error experimentation on my part, and other ‘moldy people’, I hope to share that in my next post. In the meantime, be careful and aware of what you touch. Thankfully, this is one symptom that should be obvious: chemical exposure to the skin.


2 thoughts on “MCS – “It Burns Us!”

  1. Most interesting. I thought a slight amount of burning from jalepenos was normal. Anyway, this post made me think about something. When I cut onions, my eyes burn really bad (I joke that I look heartbroken because I cry so much πŸ˜‰ ). I’ve said that I’m hyper-sensitive to the onion off-gas, but I never really thought about why…also come to think of it, it does seem to have gotten worse over the past couple of years. Interesting indeed!


    1. I think that definitely burning in the eyes is probably normal, but what I wondered was if MCS would make it worse? πŸ™‚ I definitely think so in the case of my hands with the jalapenos. πŸ˜€


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