Some of you might understand when we say there are many substances that you come in contact every day causing skin irritation. Skin irritants could be a chemical, a surface, or substance to which you develop irritation or itch when in contact with your skin.
You may have anything from a mild redness to frustrating swelling and itching to a severe case of blisters or sores. The skin is your primary layer of defense and so it often takes the first blow against irritants in the world around you.
Many common household items, from soap and cosmetics to lime juice, can cause skin irritation. Chemicals and other irritants are so common, in fact, that many people don’t pay attention to minor skin rashes that come and go. A little knowledge about common skin irritants will go a long way toward solving the problem.
Some of the household skin irritants are:
Washing too much can lead to dry, chapped skin. Eventually skin can crack and bleed. Soap removes natural oils from the skin, and can also cause problems for people who are allergic to certain ingredients and fragrances found in a lot of soaps.
Wool is notoriously itchy, and some people are genuinely allergic to it. Other fabrics can also cause problems, like formaldehyde resins used on some fabrics can cause a variety of allergic reactions including dermatitis. If you suspect that certain articles of clothing are causing irritation, cotton and cotton poly fabrics are usually a safe option.
Clothing Detergent and Fabric Softeners
People with skin allergies can be sensitive to the chemicals and fragrances contained in clothing detergent and fabric softeners. Some companies offer versions of their product that are free from fragrances and other allergens.
Products ranging from all-purpose cleaners to dish detergent and toilet disinfectants can cause problems if they come in contact with your skin. EHC recommends that you wear protective gloves while using cleaning products and always make sure the area where you are using cleaners is well ventilated.
Latex is a natural rubber found in many household gloves. Some people are hypersensitive to latex, and should avoid any contact with the material.
If your skin stings or burns when you apply a facial cream, you should consider avoiding the product. Common irritants in facial creams include ascorbic acid, paraban preservatives, and alpha hydroxy acids. Wrinkle creams, skin peels, and cleansers can all be major skin irritants.
Most of us are familiar with the red, itchy rashes caused by poison ivy, but there are other plant irritants that can lurk in your yard. Poison oak and poison sumac are two other common offenders. All three contain urushiol, which triggers an allergic reaction.
Allergies to nickel are relatively common. Nickel is found in watchbands, zippers, costume jewelry, and other common items.
Some chemicals in sunscreens can irritate the skin or cause allergic reactions. The most common reactions are to sunscreens that contain PABA-based chemicals, so it is a good idea to seek out an alternative.
Most air fresheners interfere with your ability to smell by coating your nasal passages with an oil film, or by releasing a nerve-deadening agent. Known toxic chemicals found in an air freshener: Formaldehyde: Highly toxic, known carcinogen. Phenol: When phenol touches your skin it can cause it to swell, burn, peel, and break out in hives. Can cause cold sweats, convulsions, circulatory collapse, coma, and even death.
It is a very volatile chemical, it is very damaging to your eyes, respiratory tract and skin.
It is a strong corrosive. It will irritate or burn the skin, eyes and respiratory tract. It may cause pulmonary edema or vomiting and coma if ingested. WARNING: Never mix bleach with ammonia it may cause fumes which can be deadly.
Carpet and Upholstery Shampoo
Most formulas are designed to over power the stain itself, they accomplish the task but not without using highly toxic substances. Some include: Perchlorethylene: Known carcinogen that damages liver, kidney and nervous system. Ammonium Hydroxide: Corrosive, extremely irritable to eyes, skin, and respiratory passages.
Most products contain chlorine in a dry form that is highly concentrated. It is the primary cause of child poisonings, according to poison control centers.
Most drain cleaners contain lye, hydrochloric acid or trichloroethane. Lye: Caustic, burns skin and eyes, if ingested will damage esophagus and stomach. Hydrochloric acid: Corrosive, eye and skin irritant, damages kidneys, liver and digestive tract. Trichloroethane: Eye and skin irritant, nervous system depressant; damages liver and kidneys.
Petroleum Distillates: Highly flammable, can cause skin and lung cancer. Phenol. Nitrobenzene: Easily absorbed through the skin, extremely toxic.
Mold And Mildew Cleaners
Chemicals contained are: Sodium hypochlorite: Corrosive, irritates or burns skin and eyes, causes fluid in the lungs which can lead to coma or death. Formaldehyde: Highly toxic, known carcinogen. Irritant to eyes, nose, throat, and skin. May cause nausea, headaches, nosebleeds, dizziness, memory loss and shortness of breath.
Oven Cleaner – Sodium Hydroxide (Lye)
Caustic, strong irritant, burns to both skin and eyes. Inhibits reflexes, will cause severe tissue damage if swallowed.
Toilet Bowl Cleaners – Hydrochloric acid
Highly corrosive, irritant to both skin and eyes. Damages kidneys and liver. Hypochlorite Bleach: Corrosive, irritates or burns eyes, skin and respiratory tract. May cause pulmonary edema, vomiting or coma if ingested.
Most pesticides have ingredients that affect the nervous system of insects. Dimpylate: Better known as Diazinon, extremely toxic. Impairs the central nervous system. Chlorinate Hydrocarbons: Suspected carcinogen and mutantagen. Accumulates in food and in fatty tissue. Will attack the nervous system. Organophosphates: Toxic and poisonous. If you can smell it, your lungs are absorbing it.
Car Wash and Polish – Petroleum Distillates
Associated with skin and lung cancer, irritant to skin, eyes, nose and lungs. Entry into the lungs may cause fatal pulmonary edema, most marked Danger, Harmful, or Fatal.
If by accident, you have consumed or ingested any of these products, call for a doctor immediately.