Your laundry detergent may smell like daisies in the springtime, but despite its bright packaging and fragrant perfume, chances are, it has some pretty harsh chemicals lurking beneath the surface. So, can washing powder cause eczema?
What is Eczema?
Eczema can begin as a dry skin condition, but can evolve into so much more. At its most severe, you can find yourself stuck in a cycle of unbearable itchiness and awkward skin lesions.
The areas on the body that may be affected vary from case to case and they tend to change with age. The most common problem areas are:
- In infants - Legs, scalp and face
- In toddlers - Arms, legs and face
- In teens and adults - Hands, feet, knees, ankles, neck, elbows and wrists
Dry skin can definitely trigger eczema flare-ups, environmental factors can play a huge part. These may include:
- Clothing and other fabrics
- Heat and sweat
- Pets, pollens and other
- Dyes, fragrances, and other chemicals
So, given the last item on the list...
Can Washing Powder Cause Eczema?
It is typical for washing powders to be manufactured using a variety of ingredients which are potential irritants.
The dyes, preservatives, chemicals and fragrances often contained in your run of the mill washing powder has been known to cause skin irritation and rashes among children and adults. See our post on "Can Washing Powder Cause A Rash".
Sensitivities or allergies towards washing powder may arise at the point of first contact, or it may take a series of repeated exposure. However, once you have developed an adverse reaction or allergy, it will only take the slightest contact to trigger the irritation in the future.
Surfactants, which work to loosen dirt particles to allow them to wash away, will be present in most soaps and detergents. Certain types of surfactants can be quite harmful towards sensitive skin types.
Another culprit contributing to dermatological issues are artificial fragrances. Typically, washing powder companies use a proprietary blend of fragrances, not allowing for transparency of ingredients - and essentially making it impossible to know exactly what it's made of.
Along with the potential irritants already mentioned, some other hidden allergens in standard washing powder may be:
- Dyes and colours
- Solvents and thickeners
- Fabric softeners
As the name suggests, contact dermatitis is a skin condition caused by coming into contact with something which causes your skin to have a reaction - i.e. plants, soaps, or textures.
Washing powder has certainly been linked to Contact Dermatitis and the itchy, red rash it brings along with it. The rash may be confined to specific areas or can be widespread.
There are two types of Contact Dermatitis - Irritant and Allergic Contact.
Irritant Contact Dermatitis is a non-allergic skin condition - in fact, it is the most common one. If you suffer from this, it means an irritating substance has caused damage to your top layer of skin and left an itchy rash.
If you have developed Irritant Contact Dermatitis and its accompanying rash, from your washing powder, it is possible that you aren't allergic to any particular ingredient in the detergent.
On the other hand, Allergic Contact Dermatitis is caused by an allergic reaction, which is your body's way of producing an immune response to exposure to a substance you are allergic to.
Most of the rashes you may contract are not cause for immediate concern, and in fact, they can usually be treated at home by switching up some lifestyle factors or utilising simple remedies. Here's some more ideas from Eczema Association of Australasia Inc (EAA) on how to manage symptoms.
If you have developed a sensitivity or allergy towards a chemical irritant, the first step is to identify the issue. If you know you are displaying signs of allergies to particular ingredients or brands, you will be educated on which products to avoid.
To ease your symptoms, you may find relief from:
- An over-the-counter steroid cream with at least 1 percent hydrocortisone. This will aid in relieving the inflammation and itchiness
- Calamine lotion or another anti-itch lotion can be used to abate the urge to scratch and soothe your skin
- Antihistamines such as Benadryl can stop allergic reactions and alleviate symptoms
- A towel soaked in cold water, known as a compress, can ease itchiness and make your skin less tender
- Taking an oatmeal bath can work wonders for your skin. It works to soothe your skin
Avoid dyes and fragrances
Most rashes brought about by your choice of washing powder, can be prevented by opting for a laundry detergent which is free from artificial dyes and fragrances.
This is due to the chemicals and artificial fragrances, which many people have sensitivities to. By using an alternative which is natural, your skin will certainly thank you.
Rinse and repeat
By adding a second rinse cycle to your wash, you can eliminate any residue from the detergent from staying on your clothes. Using the hottest water temperature is also a great tip to note, as it kills any potential allergens.
Give your new threads a wash
When you purchase new clothes. Always give them a wash before you wear them. Many manufacturers use finishing sprays and other chemicals that can have a detrimental effect on your skin’s wellbeing.
Leave the fabric softener on the shelf
Using an alternative to fabric softener (which is essentially just extra chemicals), such as dryer balls, can soften your clothes without adding any irritants.
Baking soda and vinegar are a match made in heaven
These two ingredients make the perfect natural cleaning solution and can be added during the wash cycle to soften and brighten your clothes.
Wash your machine
It's important to show your machine some love, particularly if you have one member of the family with sensitivities and you are still using standard detergents for the rest of the family.
A hot water cycle with some vinegar and baking soda thrown in for good measure, can alleviate any chemical buildup or soap scum from your washing machine.
Natural stain removal is the way to go
Avoid potentially nasty chemical-based stain removers and replace it with a simple solution of baking soda, washing soda and water. Mix well and apply to the stain by scrubbing with a toothbrush.
Not All Washing Powders are Created Equally
At Hudstone, our washing powders are safe for sensitive skin conditions, and we have a carefully crafted sensitive blend which is very mild.
Many people ask us what we put into our laundry products, to make them so gentle yet effective in the fight against dirt.
We have absolutely nothing to hide, and can promise you that each and every Hudstone formula is safe for you, your family and the environment.
Introducing the Star of the Show
Our Hudstone Sensitive washing powder (Super Concentrate) contains alkaline mineral salt, nonionic and anionic surfactant.
We leave out all fragrances and essential oils from this blend, meaning it can do its job without posing any threat to your sensitive skin.
It has been lovingly created with the most sensitive of skin in mind, such as those with existing skin conditions and even babies.
We leave out all the nasty bits you would probably be sold in the supermarket chains, such as fillers, irritants and synthetic fragrances.
We put only the premium elements in, giving you a brighter wash each and every time.
We sell this powder in a quantity perfect for any lifestyle - from our 2kg pack (averaging 80 top loader cycles and 160 front loader cycles) right up to our 10kg pack (where you can expect a yield of 400 top loader washes and an epic 800 front loader washes).
We recommend pairing it with our all-purpose spray and pre-soaker, guaranteed to make even the toughest stains disappear.
Every product in our range is non-toxic, biodegradable, safe to use and environmentally friendly. We are suitable for vegans and we have never and will never test on animals.
Proudly Australian made and owned, at Hudstone, we have been operating for almost 40 years. If you have any questions about our products, please get in touch today.