What causes irritant contact dermatitis?
If you’ve ever experienced a burning, stinging or itching sensation after cleaning, chances are you’ve come into contact with a substance that causes irritant contact dermatitis – also called eczema. Fragrances can sometimes irritate sensitive skin, and these ingredients can be found in many household cleaning products like soaps, detergents, and disinfectants.
Who is affected?
Those with atopic eczema are most at risk, but anyone could develop a rash from cleaning products. Even weak irritants can cause problems after frequent use, so the more you clean the more you’re at risk. However, learning how to spot them on your products’ ingredients lists will help you know when to pull on a pair of gloves, or better yet, avoid them altogether.
Some common skin irritants to look out for
These following ingredients can cause skin irritation. Keep an eye out for these substances, and try to avoid products that contain them.
- Fragrances – these can cause irritation to those with sensitive skin. Look for words such as “parfum” on ingredients lists as they indicated a fragrance has been added. Essential oils are another to look out for as they can have a strong scent.
- Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) – this surfactant is often used as a cleaning agent in sprays and laundry and dishwasher detergents to remove dirt.
How to avoid skin irritation
If you’re concerned about a reaction to cleaning products, then perhaps it’s time to switch to products that are specially formulated for sensitive skin, with no fragrance or colourants. Neutral Liquid Detergent contains no perfume but still does the job effectively.
If you’ve suffered from skin irritation or have sensitive skin, then check the ingredient labels on your cleaning products for anything that might be an irritant. Switching to brands that don’t use common skin irritants – such as Neutral 0% – could make a difference.