One of the most common culprits behind an allergic reaction on the skin are from using laundry detergent. And, it’s often the last thing that’s considered when someone is experiencing a reaction. Still, many laundry detergents are filled with all kinds of irritants and common allergens, so the next time your skin is reacting, you should consider the formula you’re using to clean your clothes.
Fortunately, there are a lot of laundry detergents out there these days, many of which are free of the most common allergens known to cause skin reactions. Let’s help you figure out why these reactions occur, and the best ingredients to avoid moving forward.
Can Detergents Provoke Allergic Reactions?
Yes, laundry detergents can and often do cause allergic reactions of the skin. And, it’s easy to understand why, when you consider all of the ingredients that are in many commercial laundry detergents. Ingredients like synthetic fragrances and dyes are the most common culprits, but still, a person can be allergic to just about anything. And, as a sidenote, too, many detergents contain toxins as well, like formaldehyde (a known carcinogen), and endocrine disruptors, i.e., phthalates.
Of course, washing machines should, ideally, rinse all of the detergent away so that it’s no longer on your clothes. But, of course, trace amounts get imbedded into the fibers of your clothing, and if you use more detergent than necessary, even more of the formula will remain on your garments. Once you wear your freshly washed clothes, the ingredients in the detergent are making constant contact with your skin, and that’s where an allergic reaction can occur.
Identifying Laundry Detergent Reactions
It’s pretty easy to know if you’re dealing with an allergic reaction. Typically, you will develop some kind of rash, which can be flat or raised. Any new redness on the skin that doesn’t go away within a few minutes can indicate that you’re dealing with a reaction.
In most cases, you will notice your skin itching or burning, but that’s not always the case. Don’t assume it’s not an allergic reaction just because you’re not feeling an itching or burning sensation.
In more severe cases, you may break out into hives, which are small, raised bumps covering a part of your body. This means that the allergy is strong enough that the area has become extremely inflamed.
Also, keep an eye out for eczema, which is the result of skin inflammation that causes flaking and peeling. Eczema can be more gradual in terms of its onset but can also indicate an allergic reaction.
Now that you know what an allergic reaction looks like, let’s talk about how to know whether or not laundry detergent is the culprit. Obviously, if the reaction is only occurring after switching to a new detergent, that’s a dead giveaway. And, if it only happens when you wear freshly laundered clothes, that’s another big clue.
How Long Does It Take for an Allergic Reaction from Detergent to Go Away?
In most cases, the reaction will start to calm down once you’re no longer using the detergent. While the symptoms can linger for days, up to 2 weeks or so in extreme cases, the reaction should start getting better instead of worse. The skin may begin to peel days later if it was really inflamed, so don’t be alarmed if that happens.
Of course, if you’re still dealing with symptoms after you’ve switched to a different detergent, or identified the allergen itself, then you may want to see an allergist or a dermatologist in the event that there’s actually another culprit behind the issue.
Dealing with Laundry Detergent Allergies in Children
Children’s skin can be particularly sensitive – especially the skin of babies. Their skin hasn’t been exposed to as much of the environment as the skin of adults, and can therefore, be more reactive to new ingredients – especially the harsher chemical ingredients found in many laundry detergents.
If your child is dealing with an allergic reaction, we recommend treating the symptoms and identifying the culprit as soon as possible. You can ease their skin inflammation and irritation with a topical product meant to calm down the reaction.
Why Do the Ingredients in Laundry Detergent Matter?
At the end of the day, your laundry detergent’s ingredients matter a lot, and not just because of their potential to cause an allergic reaction. Like we said, laundry detergents are often filled with chemicals that are known to be toxic to the human body, including known carcinogens that can be cancer-causing.
On top of that, many laundry detergents are filled with ingredients that are harmful to the environment. These ingredients end up making their way into our soil and water sources, which can be harmful to a number of species, while introducing toxins into our surroundings which make their way back into our bodies.
The key is choosing a good laundry detergent brand that goes above and beyond to use the cleanest ingredients possible. At Grab Green Home, we offer a variety of detergent products, all of which are environmentally friendly, cruelty-free, nontoxic, and free of common allergens like dyes and synthetic fragrances. You can see that our products are EPA-approved, meaning that they’re made under the strict standards of the Environmental Protection Agency.