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Living With MCS: Being Accommodated

Symptoms    Family Living    The Life I Lost    Coping    Being Accommodated    Reflections   

This page assumes you are past doubting the reality that chemical exposures are crippling your friend, spouse, sibling, etc. This page assumes you are ready and willing to learn how to be in their company without harming them.

If you have a very close companion, family member or friend with this illness the best thing to do is to be chemically free in your daily life. This will make all interactions possible with the added bonus of improving your own health at the same time.

The main principle to keep in mind:
avoid petrochemicals and chemical fragrance.

This is more involved than it may sound as fragrance is not limited to perfumes, far from it. If you read the list below you will see what you are using daily that adds to chemical exposures for you or people who are near you.

You will need to visit a health food store for safer alternatives to scented products, or look online at and click "Unscented Products". Try Karen's or other sites like it by googling for other natural non-toxic personal product sites. Not all alternatives work for everyone with MCS, so you may want to ask them about particular needs.

So here we go...
Eliminating Triggers for the MCSer in Your Life:

When you go to an MCS person's home, please be very respectful of their personal items and their homes. Much time and care have gone into making them safe for this illness. It is very difficult for someone with MCS to find, create and keep a home that has truly clean air that doesn't create pain or other symptoms. You could contaminate the only bit of breathable air space they have in their lives, and you could cause a setback by not checking first about what substances you bring in if you enter their homes. See also the Safe Living resources.

Remember, clean doesn't smell.
It's not that you will not be clean, instead you will be arriving with safe alternatives. The main point here is to be synthetically chemically blank or neutral. The biggest rule of order here is to avoid chemical fragrances which are omnipresent in the common public.

Commom Mistakes to Avoid
  • Do not assume if a product says "natural" that an item is safe.
    (Patchouli, for example, or tea tree oil or other essential oils are very potent and cause breathing distress to many within moments.)
  • Natural does not mean fragrance free.
  • Avoid mint candy or gum, as these can be painful scents.
  • Your clothing is a sponge for the scents in public places.
    Be careful not to go through all this trouble and then run into the bank (for example) right before you arrive to see the MCS person.
  • Likewise, avoid bringing in computer bags, purses, grocery bags, and other porous items which have recently been in a public space.
  • Don't go to all this trouble and then drive over in a car with an air freshener, that will undo all your careful planning.
  • Avoid exposing them to fresh newsprint, Xeroxed papers, carbonless papers, newly printed photographs, or freshly printed papers.
  • Avoid bringing markers, white-out pens, hand sanitizers, alchol handiwipes, and the like.

  • Wear no clothing that has been treated by dry cleaners, with fabric softeners or with dryer sheets.
  • Buy something new if necessary and launder with the detergents below.
  • If you do buy new clothes, do not use machines that have had fabric softeners or dryer sheets in them.
  • If you have no access to a truly clean washer and dryer, wash by hand.
Use non-fragrant detergents such as:
  • Dr. Bronner's Unscented Baby Castile Liquid Soap
  • Country Save
  • Earthrite
  • Ecover
  • Seventh Generation
  • Granny's Old-Fashioned Concentrate
  • Planet (all phosphate- and fragrance-free products)
  • Arm and Hammer Baking Soda Detergent
  • Easier to find "regular" detergents include All-Free, Cheer-Free, or Tide-Free.
    Note: Although these products are at least free of fragrances, they do contain other petrochemicals such as dyes and enzymes which and are not the "best" choice for trying to reduce your own toxic exposures.

    Though listing ingredients is still not required by law, there has been enough growing public pressure that now several other detergent manufacturers are beginning to create and list "no enzymes" on certain products. For example, Seventh Generation now has a "Sensitive Care" or "Delicate Care" (pink label) detergent that has no enzymes, which some highly reactive people can tolerate better than the regular "Free and Clear" (blue label). "All-Free" has no enzymes, however it contains other petrochemicals.

There is also the option of wearing something that the MCS person has washed for you. Many keep several safely laundered large hoodies and sweat pants in various sizes for visitors.

When you do have some successful outfits for visiting, bag them separately to keep them from picking up fragrances of your "normal" fragrant life you encounter between visits. Make sure you wash with plain soaps when changing from regular outfits to the bagged safe ones, or you transfer chemicals.

  • Tom's Fragrance Free Deodorant Soap Bars
  • Sirena Pure Coconut Oil Soap
  • Neutrogena Fragrance Free Soap
  • Basis soap
  • Liquid Glycerine soaps (Tom's or Body Works from Canada)
  • Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil Soap
  • Syracuse Soapworks, Fragrance Free
  • Dr. Bronner's Baby Supermild Soap (not any mints)
  • Dr. Bronner's Unscented Baby Castile Liquid Soap

Shampoos & Conditioners
  • Pure Essentials Fragrance-Free Shampoo and Conditioner by Earthscience
  • Elysian Dream Natural hair Products
  • Fragrance Free Magick Botanicals Shampoo and Conditioner(though theres no fragrance, these may bother some due to other ingredients.)
  • Stonybrook Botanicals Fragrance Free, Unscented
  • Karen's Naturals
  • Janice's Fragrance-Free Shampoo & Conditioner for MCS'ers
  • AFM's Safe Choice Shampoo and Body Wash

  • Mineral crystal stones (or spray) - least toxic choice
  • Queen Helene, Unscented Deodorant - does contain the petrochemical propylene glycol, but it is unscented
  • le Stick French Green Clay Deodorant (Unscented)
  • Baking soda
  • French clay powder
  • Corn Starch
    (great for powder unless you have a problem with yeast infections since corn can "feed" the yeast!)

Avoid fluoride - it's toxic and doesn't help cavities anyway
  • Tom's of Maine
  • Weleda
  • Tea Tree Oil Toothpaste - various brands
  • Jason's (contains no sodium laurel sulfate or propylene glycol!)
  • Baking Soda
  • Nature's Gate Creme D'Anise

Face Creams and Body Lotions
Avoid "Quaternium-15", which releases formaldehyde!
  • Alba Botanica, Alba,Original, unscented
  • Plain Almond oil or Olive oil
  • Kiss My Face Fragrance-free Olive and Aloe Moisture Lotion
  • Granny's Old Fashioned Moisture Guard
  • Nature's Plus Vitamin E Cream
  • Nature's Gate, Fragrance-Free Moisturizing Lotion
  • Cocoa Butter, plain or with almond oil only
  • Any fragrance-free moisturizer from regular stores would be better than scented moisturizers.

  • Aubrey Organics Ultra 15 Natural Herbal Sunblock
    (check labels- those with apple essential oils, with a scent, will bother many with MCS)
  • Mountain Ocean Sun Screen
  • Jason's Fragrance Free
  • Kiss My Face Sun Screen
  • Physician's Formula

Avoid these, period. Most hair sprays contain nerve gas and propane or butane (yes, the stuff that goes into your gas heater and lighters!) and are VERY toxic.
  • Homemade Recipe for Hair Gel:Dissolve 1 package of unflavored gelatin (not "Jello"!) in 2 cups of hot water.Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator.
  • Plain Aloe Vera gel
  • Naturade Hairspray "Aloe Vera 80" is tolerable to some MCS patients.
    Many need to use the kind without alcohol.
  • Or simply cut get a hair cut that does not require sprays.

Shaving Cream
  • Kiss My Face
  • Plain Aloe Vera Gel can be used for after-shave
  • Homemade Recipe:
    1/4 Cup Pure Aloe Vera Gel, 1/4 Cup Pure Coconut Oil, 1/4 Cup Vegetable Glycerin, 1/8 Cup Pure Castille Soap, Liquid.
    Stir gently together and either put in a spray bottle or apply by hand.

More Info

Here's another explanation of how to be safe to visit someone with MCS:

See also Safe Living for more resources and information.

How to Live with Someone with MCS

My name is John, and I have spent the past four years learning how to accommodate Angela's new condition of Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. I did a lot to help her stop her initial suffering. Here is a narrative of some steps I took, as a believing and caring spouse to make life easier, healthier for both of us and close friends who began to embrace living without chemical offenders.

The first important thing I did for her, was to belive her. Imagine saying to someone that you have a headache or even cancer, and have that person doubt you. Believing was the key, and then taking action to remove the culprits kept our relationship possible. People who do not have the disability of Multiple Chemical Sensitivities may find it hard to know what might cause distress to someone who does. After all how can you change something you don't see or detect? If you believe and listen, this is a great first step.

I built safe containment areas. Angela could stay behind these, which were absolutely not traveled in by others and would remain totally free of fragrance or chemical invasions of any kind. After trying to make trip outside she could always come back to a space she knew to be safe, to slowly lose the pains of venturing out.

We also purchased Austin air filters for the upstairs rooms which would filter any outside chimney smoke or laundry exhaust from nearby neighbors. I made her food so she wouldn't need to venture out of what proved to be a safe and pain-free breathing space.

After a few months of this, she became strong enough to venture out to the rest of the house.

Then I built some safe boxes for the laptops in the house. Since she was only experiencing small controlled moments in the outside world, the internet brought her the world safely. The box I created was made from a friends gutted airstream trailer's aluminum, with a fan exhausting the fumes out an open window in the back. The finished product is on the Coping page.

I changed all my personal products to fragrance free products. This was just a matter of changing my habits and purchasing a different brand. It is actually easier that it sounds on first read of all the lists above. Now that my world is void of chemical fragrance, I have become VERY aware of the loads of fragrance in the air. Some people have their dryer sheets, their lotions, their make-up and hair products all competing for what we inhale. I have noticed that I get headaches in the presence of fragrances. What started out to be an accommodation for Angie, turned into a benefit for me. I am happy to have made this change for my own health.

After speaking with close friends, I began orchestrating safe large gatherings with other friends who have also joined in buying chemical free products. We have also driven some distances to to gather with chemically damaged folks, and even then, there are some who cannot tolerate something and must don their respirator. Each person with this disability was thrown into it by a different chemical overload, and therefore has difficluties processing different triggers.

Doing a great job of avoiding the chemical triggers that make someone with MCS symptomatic will make for a great visit.
When accommodated, this part of the population will just blend in with the crowd.
It is possible, and very worth it!


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