IS MY LAUNDRY DETERGENT RESPONSIBLE FOR MY ITCHY SKIN?

DERMATOLOGISTS WEIGH IN

As if laundry day wasn’t annoying enough, can your detergent be to blame for your newfound itchy skin? We ask a dermatologist to help us figure out if our laundry detergent can actually affect our skin. Find out her answer below!

Laundry days can be viewed in a few different ways and a few different attitudes. Some of us—myself included—react to laundry day with a dramatic shrug and a “why me” complaint, as we lug our overflowing laundry baskets to our neighborhood laundromat. Others, are excited to get the job done so that they can dive into their freshly-scented sheets and wear their favorite pair of underwear again. And then there are those who might dread laundry day for a different reason: their skin.

If you’ve ever felt itchy or uncomfortable in your clothes or sheets post laundry day—or even worse: if you’ve ever had a vacation ruined because you experienced a reaction to the hotel sheets and towels—chances are, your laundry detergent—fabric softener, dryer sheets, etc.—could be the culprit. According to board-certified dermatologist and Skincare.com expert, Dr. Dendy Engelman, “It is possible that you could be allergic to certain chemicals or a fragrance in the detergent.” It may also be that your washing machine is not going a great job at rinsing your clothes, leaving product residue on your newly rinsed lights, she adds. Fortunately, there are a few ways to take care of this laundry mishap.

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If your clothes have not been rinsed properly, Dr. Engelman suggests rinsing them twice to make sure all detergent residue is removed from clothing. If the irritation continues, she says that it is possible you may have contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis is a skin irritation that occurs when your skin has an allergic reaction to something that it comes in contact with.

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To minimize your chances of contact dermatitis, Engelman suggests using a dye-free, fragrance-free detergent and fabric softener. “Oftentimes it is scent and dye that cause the problems and the majority of laundry detergents and fabric softeners include them—even some products marketed for baby laundry,” she says. So, when shopping for a laundry detergent—or fabric softener for that matter—be alert and look for detergents labeled fragrance-free and dye-free. Engelman says that another great way to avoid contact dermatitis is by sticking to one detergent. “Don’t buy whatever brand is on sale,” she warns, “ as changing detergents may make it harder to figure out what is causing the skin problem.”


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