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Frederick Swanson, M.D.
JAMA. 1956;162(5):459-461. doi:10.1001/jama.1956.72970220001006.
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The use of cleansing agents on the skin is designed to remove all exogenous agents deposited on its surface as well as some of the materials that have been produced by the skin itself (e. g., sebum, sweat, and scales). The conventional cleansing agents, namely, the toilet soaps, fulfill these requirements in an eminently satisfactory fashion on most normal skins. On skin that is abnormally dry, sensitive, or diseased, however, the common toilet soaps not infrequently cause irritation and produce a sensation of excessive dryness, burning, and also, at times, itching. These undesirable effects of soaps on sensitive and abnormal skins are in part, at least, attributable to their alkalizing action in aqueous solution. Since soaps are salts of the weakly ionized fatty acids and the strongly ionized alkalis, an alkaline solution always results on hydrolysis. This alkaline solution is generally well tolerated when soaps are used within reason on


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