Is Your Laundry Detergent Causing That Skin Rash?

We have wonderful detergent powders and liquids for our washing today that provide stain removal, whitening and brightening up our colors. Many of these detergents contain harsh chemicals that can cause allergic reactions to the skin. Should you find you are experiencing skin irritations or allergies, you are one of many who experience such problems.

Reading this guide will help you to alleviate some of these problems by identifying the various skin irritants caused by detergents and what’s more, we can certainly assist you in identifying the type of rash. At the same time, we’ll offer some great shopping ideas on what types of detergents treat your skin and clothes gently.

Jumping the gun a little, we can help you identify these laundry detergents and related rashes.

How to Categorize these Skin Blemishes
Irritating red swollen and ugly detergent rashes look similar to and can be confused with atopic dermatitis (commonly known as eczema). You need to identify that it is being caused by your detergent or is a condition caused by your clothes or the material they are manufactured from. Many man-made fibres today can produce red itchy skin or even rashes especially if in areas where they can rub against the skin.

What are the origins and causes of detergent rashes?
Many reasons can bring about skin irritations when subjected to harsh strong detergents. Many people can experience these irritations just by touching a strong bleach or detergent. Detergents are full of allergens or antigens similar to those in the food we eat.

Allergens and Harsh Substances
The immune system quickly senses an allergen which is often a fragrance or fabric softener found in most detergents and depending on a person’s sensitivity to the substance it can produce a visible skin problem such as a rash or hive-like swelling. Studies show that 1% of the population show visible reactions to perfumes, etc. Some detergents, whilst enhancing the look of our clothes, can cause other problems such as dermatitis of which there are many forms.

Contact Dermatitis
Certain chemicals or so-called harmless substances added to the detergent that can give rise to immediate skin problems are known as contact dermatitis. This is usually quickly countered by removing any exposure to the substance. However, this is not always the case. If, for example, a person has an existing allergy or is sensitive to a substance, it may take some time to manifest itself, sometimes as long as 72 hours. This type of allergy is known as allergic dermatitis which gives a delayed response.

Symptoms of a Detergent Rash
Luckily, we can assist in identifying a detergent allergy as it is normally quickly revealed. You may experience different symptoms, however, some of which are:
Itchy, burning reddish skin
Dry or cracked patches of skin
Blisters which may occasionally ooze
Reaction in the eyes such as swelling or over-sensitivity to the sun
Irritation in the genital area
And possible more……

Identifying a Detergent Rash
This is a difficult task as the rash may be caused by several things combining with a washing powder or liquid. A detergent rash for example can be seen in places where the material is tight or rubs against the skin, including in armpits or between the legs. Anywhere where skin touches skin, a rash may form. In the case of children, the incidence of “diaper rash” is frequent and can be caused by a detergent. It is a fairly common rash seen under the diaper and maybe the fault of the detergent.

If a rash is seen on the skin of a side sleeper, it may well be the detergent in the pillowcase. Of course, it may not be the detergent at all, simply a case of not rinsing the pillowcase properly leaving a detergent presence in the material. If not the case, then a dermatologist can perform an “allergy test” for you to identify the cause.

Ruling Out Your Detergent Problem
If you can say with certainty and rule out your detergent as the cause of the rash, then one needs to look elsewhere. Consider the following:

Spider or similar bug bites, nappy/diaper rash
An allergic reaction to beauty products or medications
Cleaning materials or a bar of plain soap
Chemicals in rubber, latex gloves or similar elastics
Coming into contact with poisonous plants and nettles
Dyes in clothing
Hay fever including common infections such as chickenpox, measles and more
Sunscreen materials, wet wipes of which there are many types and all contain some cleansing chemical or liquid soap, baby wipes
Strong household cleaners

If you can rule out the above, then some form of action needs to be taken:
Contact your doctor or dermatologist immediately depending on the seriousness of the problem.

Should you decide to try home remedies or additives to your detergents, make sure you try a sample patch on the person’s skin or wrist area and observe the reaction. Do not spend too much time on these home remedies, treating washing powders, etc. if they don’t seem to work. Rather, contact your physician.

Some Home Treatments Can Help, For Example
Tip 1 You can always try a cold compress on the affected area. Try an ice pack with some material between the pack and the affected area whilst holding it to the rash to see if the itching or pain is relieved to some extent. This also helps to limit blood flow to the affected area. In the case of swelling, a cold pack can reduce the swelling straight away giving some immediate relief.

Tip 2 Another age-old treatment is an oatmeal bath, which can help. Try to obtain colloidal oats as these are more dissolvable in the water. Fill a warm bath and dissolve the oats in it. Skip the breakfast ones. The antioxidants in oatmeal and anti-inflammatory properties can surely help a rash. Stay in the bath for at least 30 minutes and observe the result.

Tip 3. Coconut oil is another remedy. Today, coconut oil is found in many hand soaps for its clean fresh smell so you may have it in your bathroom or kitchen. It possesses many healing properties such as curing rashes. If you can obtain virgin coconut oil, this has antibacterial, healing, and anti-inflammatory qualities. Try some on the affected areas of the skin.

Tip 4. You could always visit your pharmacy. A friendly chemist is always a good reference and is always there to assist. He can point you to the best OTC (over-the-counter) medicine for a rash. Probably an ointment is best which you can use at home. In all probability, this will turn out to be the less expensive option but can be effective. Most creams will moisturize the skin whereas detergents remove the moisture leaving dry skin in most cases.

Tip 5. An inexpensive treatment oil is Aloe Vera which is also a home treatment and relatively less expensive. Even health professionals recommend applying Aloe Vera to rashes. Aloe Vera has soothing properties and can assist with irritation and pain caused by a rash. Use it as a moisturizer also.

You can try preventing detergent rashes and we have some tips for you here
Tip 1. Change your detergent but first try a hypoallergenic detergent. Some companies manufacture hypoallergenic detergents.

Tip 2. Try rinsing your clothes a few times in plain water with no additives. If using a washing machine do an extra rinse cycle. It may remove any trace of detergent that was not removed in the first cycle.

Tip 3. White distilled vinegar can be used in place of the usual fabric softener so on the rinse cycle, add a capful of this distilled white vinegar which is easily obtainable from your local store. This will also help you to remove any residue and it will also soften clothes as well.

Tip 4. We mentioned other makes of detergents, however, a good idea is to try using less. Many people use detergents to excess and this can be the cause of rashes. So, before trying other makes, use less than the recommended amount or less than you normally use. It may help.

Tip 5. If you are not in the habit of using a moisturizer try some before you dress for the day. A body moisturizer well applied over your body can help. It is kind to the skin and will act as a barrier between you and your clothes. Observe the difference, it may be an answer.

Tip 6. Dry your clothes well and if the climate is humid try using a clothes dryer. The best drying agent is the UV light from the sun which kills bacteria and germs.

Tip 7. Wash carefully before you wear new clothes as there are often manufacturers stiffeners in the material or residues of dye material. This may help if you find new clothes irritate your skin.

Tip 8. Try not to use perfumed or scented products. From experience, we know that fabric softeners and stain removers are attractive due to their lovely aroma. However, synthetic chemical fragrances can cause rashes. Rarely do manufacturers use natural scented additives due to the nature of the chemicals used in the detergent. Try using essential oils to add a dash of fragrance, they are great and natural.

Tip 9. Try to use only one detergent rather than go for specials in price and quantity. It is surely tempting to buy the cheapest; however, cheapest is not always best.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How long can a detergent rash persist?
Continued exposure to the source once identified, i.e. laundry detergent, can cause the rash to remain. However, a change to a hypoallergenic detergent should see the rash disappear within two to four weeks. Applying a known rash treatment can help and become unnoticeable quicker.

Can an unclean washing machine be the cause of a rash?
Very definitely. Many of today’s washing powders work effectively in a cold wash cycle and this does little to remove the germ. A hot water cycle can eliminate germs. Using cold washes continually means your machine can harbor germs. It is recommended that a hot water cycle is used now and again which will eliminate bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus which is common in the upper respiratory tract. This type of bacteria, easily spread by touching, is a common bacteria found in washing machines, for example, and can cause minor skin irritation or rash. To eliminate the chance of this bacteria being present in a washing machine, it is suggested that the machine be cleaned monthly.

Is there an allergy-free detergent on the market?
Yes, there are such detergents on the market, but it’s not to say you will be 100% safe from skin rashes. Usually, a hypoallergenic detergent has been dermatologically tested but there is no guarantee that you are safe from any laundry detergent. Different people react differently when the skin is exposed to some or another chemical substance; however, it is highly unlikely that a hypoallergenic detergent will cause a rash.

Do bio-detergents cause allergies?
Generally speaking, bio-detergents are safe although the powerful enzymes may cause an allergic reaction to people with sensitive skin, but are usually safe for general use. Researchers found generally that bio-detergents containing enzymes carry a slight risk of irritant or allergic skin reactions. If you buy a bio-detergent, the risk of developing rashes is minimal.

Do non-biological detergents cause allergies?
The use of non-biological detergents, which do not contain enzymes but do employ powerful stain removers are usually hypoallergenic and are dermatologically tested. These are especially safe for delicate baby skin.

Can my detergent suddenly cause allergies?
At any time, the use of a detergent can unexpectedly reveal an allergy. If you particularly use one brand of detergent, it still does not mean to say that you cannot develop a problem although it is best to stay with that brand.

Medicinally speaking the adult body can identify an allergic reaction to some or another product and will create histamine resulting in a rash. If this happens suddenly, it may be best to try another brand of detergent and check carefully for any reaction.

Go Away Rash
Experiencing the onset of hives suddenly showing on the skin or the sudden suffering of allergies because of your laundry detergent may be quite normal. Chemical enzymes in any detergent may cause itchy, irritated or dry cracked skin. The best way to try to alleviate this problem is by changing to a hypoallergenic or a dermatologically tested detergent.
If nothing seems to alleviate this problem, you cannot go wrong by using a good moisturizing cream. There are options here as some may contain coconut oil which is a great calmer. If the rash persists or worsens the best course of action is to consult your physician.

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