How Laundry Detergent Can Cause Contact Dermatitis

How Laundry Detergent Can Cause Contact Dermatitis

People who work in the laundry business are exposed to many different products, and some of those can cause contact dermatitis. Laundry detergents are one example of a product that may cause this type of skin reaction. This article will explain what contact dermatitis is, how it’s caused by laundry detergent, and why it’s important for launderers to be aware of this risk factor.

What is Contact Dermatitis?

How Laundry Detergent Can Cause Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is an irritation of the skin caused by contact with a substance. Contact dermatitis can be caused by many different substances, including laundry detergent, household cleaners and cosmetics. Anyone can develop contact dermatitis; however, it’s most common in people who have dry skin or eczema.

Contact dermatitis may present differently depending on the person and the substance that causes the reaction. Common symptoms include redness, itching and swelling of affected areas within 24 hours after exposure to a trigger substance.

What Contact Dermatitis looks like?

How Laundry Detergent Can Cause Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a condition in which the skin develops an itchy rash after coming into contact with an allergen, such as laundry detergent. The rash usually develops on the face, neck and upper body but can occur anywhere on the body. Contact dermatitis may look like other skin conditions; however, it typically develops within 24 hours of exposure to an allergen and lasts for several days before disappearing completely.

A person with contact dermatitis may experience some or all of these symptoms:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Blisters

What are the types of Contact Dermatitis?

How Laundry Detergent Can Cause Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is sometimes caused by laundry detergent. This can happen if the clothing you are wearing has come into contact with excessive amounts of the laundry detergent and your skin comes into contact with it as well. There are many types of Contact Dermatitis, but the most common types are allergic and irritant contact dermatitis.

Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when your body produces an antibody called Immunoglobulin E (IgE) in response to something that is foreign to your body; once this happens, a substance called histamine is released into your bloodstream which causes inflammation and swelling in any area of your skin that has been exposed to the allergen. This reaction usually happens within 24 hours after exposure, but may take longer depending on how much exposure there was and how sensitive you are.

Irritant contact dermatitis occurs when something causes damage or irritation to the outermost layer of skin (epidermis), causing chemicals from these damaged cells being released into surrounding tissues.

How Laundry Detergent can cause Contact Dermatitis?

There are many chemicals in laundry detergent that can cause contact dermatitis. The most common chemicals that can cause contact dermatitis are the following:

  • Triethanolamine, which is a chemical used to create an alkaline environment and make the product less acidic.
  • Fragrances can be made of numerous different chemicals and fragrances include limonene, chloroform, ethyl acetate, benzyl alcohol and more. While some people may not have a reaction to these ingredients because they’re used in so many products but others may have an allergic reaction to them.
  • Fabric softeners often contain quaternary ammonium compounds (QUATS) like methyldibromo glutaronitrile or polydimethylsiloxane which act as antistatic agents on fabrics causing them to repel dirt particles from clothing so that you don’t need as much washing powder which means it’s cheaper for companies selling detergents/softeners etcetera.

Read Also: Best Laundry tips that most people are not aware of

What are the treatments of Contact Dermatitis?

There are a few things you can do to reduce the symptoms and shorten the duration of contact dermatitis.

can laundry detergent cause contact dermatitis

  • Avoid exposure to the allergen: If you think that your laundry detergent or softener is causing your rash, stop using it. You may need to replace those products with something else for a while until the rash goes away.

can laundry detergent cause contact dermatitis

  • Use a moisturizer: This will help keep your skin hydrated and heal any dryness that’s making your skin sensitive. Moisturizers can also help prevent further irritation from occurring, which will make it easier for your body to fight off whatever is causing the rash in the first place.

can laundry detergent cause contact dermatitis

  • Use a corticosteroid cream: Corticosteroids are medications used for inflammation or swelling in response to injury or infection (eosinophilic cellulitis). They work by slowing down immune system activity at sites where there has been damage such as an infected wound (cellulitis) in order to reduce swelling there so that healing can occur without pain being caused by too much pressure on surrounding areas due to high levels of fluid build up during recovery periods after initial infections have been cleared out by antibiotics/antifungals etcetera.

Also Read: Humidity and Allergies


Contact dermatitis is a common skin condition that affects millions of people every year. It causes itchy, red, inflamed skin that can be painful and uncomfortable. The most common cause of contact dermatitis is laundry detergent or fabric softener, which often contain harsh chemicals that can irritate the skin when they come into contact with it. If you suspect that your laundry detergent may be causing your symptoms, talk to your doctor about switching to products without these ingredients.


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