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April 14, 2016 | Dermatology
Your skin is the largest organ of your body, and it’s also the only one that’s visible to everyone else. What you put on your skin is just as important for your overall health as what you put in your mouth.
If you’ve been dealing with dry, irritated skin, dermatitis, acne, or eczema, you can give your sensitive skin a break and restore a healthy glow by avoiding the following common household items.
1) Deodorant and Fragrance-Infused Soaps
Many of the most popular bar soaps are full of fragrances and other ingredients that can dry out or irritate your skin. Avoid deodorant and scented soaps both in the shower and on your face. Choose unscented and fragrance-free brands like Dove, Neutrogena, Aveeno, or Oil of Olay.
For your children, look for non-lathering cleansers and washes made especially for sensitive skin. Surfactants, the foaming agents in soaps and cleansers, strip oils from the skin and cause drying. It’s very important to choose unscented baby products to avoid irritant dermatitis in young children. “Although parents may love that ‘new baby smell’ that many baby powders and lotions contain, even that added fragrance can cause allergic reactions in children,” confirms Revere Health board-certified dermatologist Brian Bradshaw, MD.
2) Harsh Laundry Detergents
Many detergents contain fragrances and other skin-irritating ingredients. The National Institute of Health reports that approximately 80 percent of contact dermatitis in the U.S. is irritant and about 20 percent is allergic, with detergents and soaps topping the list for most common causes.
If you have severely irritated skin, double rinse your clothes and wear waterproof gloves when using detergents. If you’re really sensitive, opt for plastic or vinyl gloves because latex can cause a skin reaction in some people.
Be careful with spot removers that contain irritating ingredients such as ammonium hydroxide and sodium hypochlorite.
3) Fabric Softeners
Both liquid fabric softeners and the sheets placed in the dryer are full of harsh ingredients and chemicals that irritate your skin when you rub against the clean clothes.
4) Perfumes and Colognes
Many people experience irritant or allergic contact dermatitis when exposed to a perfume. The reaction may not happen with the first exposure, but after repeated applications of your favorite cologne on your sensitive neck and behind your ears, you might start to notice a reaction.
5) Scented Bath and Body Products
In addition to the irritating fragrance, oil-based beauty and bath products can block your skin’s pores. Moisturizing creams and lotions that contain pore-clogging sulfates, silicones, mineral oil, coconut and cocoa butter can lead to an acne breakout.
Choose non-comedogenic, oil-free, and unscented cosmetics, toiletries, and sunscreens and a gentle, non-abrasive facial cleanser that does not contain alcohol.
6) Chemical House Cleaning Products
Many of the products you use to clean your home and keep it germ-free are very harsh on your skin. Exposing sensitive skin to these agents can cause contact dermatitis.
Read labels. If you see warnings like, “Use in a well-ventilated area,” you know that the cleaning product contains skin-threatening ingredients. Here are a few of the most common offenders:
While “Green” or “all natural” cleaners won’t necessarily prevent dermatitis, they are typically more mild and gentle on your skin. You could even try your grandmother’s favorite cleaning product: baking soda.
7) Rough and Synthetic Fabrics
Most synthetic fabrics are treated with chemicals and dyes during and after processing that can really irritate your skin. Polyester and spandex are especially challenging. Scratchy, rough wool and canvas fabrics are also harsh when worn against sensitive skin. Wear a long sleeved cotton t-shirt under your favorite wool sweater.
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.