If you start sneezing, coughing, or developing a runny nose for no known reason, consider a laundry detergent allergy as a potential cause. Some people may consider the pollutants in the air but may not feel the chemicals in their favorite laundry soap.

What Causes a Laundry Detergent Allergy?

Many laundry detergents contain chemicals that can cause a reaction in people sensitive to the ingredients. These products often include fragrances you may be allergic to, preservatives, and dyes.

The fragrances are usually either citrus-based or floral-based. Once the bottle is opened, the chemicals react with oxygen in the air to release the scent. Surfactants are another ingredient in many laundry detergents. They break up dirt and remove it from the clothing. Stain fighters and fabric softeners are examples of surfactants. Many chemical fragrances and surfactants can cause allergy-like symptoms in individuals.

How Do I Know If I'm Allergic to Laundry Detergent?

People with an allergy to laundry detergent often develop a rash on their skin from contact with clothing or bedding that has been washed in the product. It can cause contact dermatitis. Signs include redness, itchy skin, blotches, and skin that feels hot.

It can take a few hours or several days for your skin to react after exposure. The symptoms may continue for several days after you stop using the detergent. Because of the extended timeline, it can be challenging to diagnose the cause of your reaction. A doctor can perform a patch test on your skin to determine what irritant is causing the issue.

Chemicals in detergents may irritate the cells in your lungs. The substances may lead to asthmatic symptoms and other issues, such as itchy or watery eyes. This type of allergy is more likely caused by the fragrances in the detergent.

Why Is a Laundry Detergent Allergy Harmful?

People who have a more severe laundry detergent allergy will often experience more significant symptoms. You may feel itchy all over and be uncomfortable when the fabric of your clothing is touching your skin. Symptoms may worsen in the winter when you wear more clothing or sleep under blankets.

You may also notice that the symptoms worsen over time. This can happen because your immune system is constantly under attack since you can't escape the detergent in your clothes. The rash may spread, and the itching may worsen after extended use of the laundry detergent.

If the fragrances are causing asthma-like symptoms, you may experience difficulty breathing. If your laundry detergent allergies affect your breathing, consider visiting a doctor as soon as possible.

How Do I Avoid Irritating Laundry Detergents?

Once you determine that your laundry detergent is causing an allergy, consider several steps to fix the problem. Stop using the detergent right away. It may take a few days or even weeks for your skin to clear up, but you may notice an improvement.

As you look for a new product, read the ingredients listed. Some products will say they're hypoallergenic. They may specify that they are designed for sensitive skin or babies and pets.

If you're allergic to fragrances, shop for unscented detergents and fabric softeners. For skin allergies, choose products that contain natural ingredients. Magnesium oxide removes sweat and body odors from clothing. Aluminum oxide removes chemicals like perfumes and urine from laundry. Zinc oxide is helpful in getting rid of smoke and similar strong odors.

You can also reduce the amount of detergent used in each wash, which may help lessen the irritation to your skin. Run the laundry through an extra rinse cycle to help remove any laundry residue. Be careful about following home remedies, such as adding vinegar to the laundry. Some detergents prevent the vinegar from being effective. It can also cause the fibers to break down, allowing the clothing to wear out faster.

Choose the Right Laundry Detergent Today

If you've noticed you are experiencing skin irritation and can't figure out any other culprit, consider the laundry detergent you're using. Replace it with a natural product and see if your irritation goes away. Don't ignore a laundry detergent allergy; find a high-quality, natural replacement.