How To Recognize and Treat a Laundry Detergent Allergy

Laundry detergent is a common household item. For some people, laundry detergent can cause an allergic reaction. Recognizing the symptoms of a laundry detergent allergy is the first step toward finding relief. Here is how to identify a laundry detergent allergy and what you can do to alleviate the symptoms:

Causes of Laundry Detergent Allergies

An allergic reaction can be caused by one or more ingredients in laundry detergent. These are commonly fragrances, preservatives, dyes, and surfactants. The severity of the allergy varies from person to person, with some experiencing mild symptoms and others experiencing a more severe reaction.

Symptoms of a Laundry Detergent Allergy

The symptoms of laundry detergent allergies can vary depending on the severity of the allergy. Here are some common symptoms:

Skin Irritation

One common symptom of laundry detergent allergies is skin irritation. This can manifest as itching, redness, and swelling.The symptoms may be localized to the area of the body that came in contact with the detergent or may be more widespread.

Respiratory Problems

Exposure to laundry detergent may cause respiratory problems, such as wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. This may be more common in people who have asthma or other respiratory conditions.

Eye Irritation

Exposure to laundry detergent can also cause eye irritation, such as redness, itching, and watering. This can occur if the detergent comes into contact with the eyes or if the person rubs their eyes after handling the laundry.

Diagnosing Laundry Detergent Allergies

If you notice any of the mentioned symptoms, you may have a laundry detergent allergy. You should see a doctor or an allergist for a proper diagnosis. The doctor will take a detailed medical history and perform a physical exam to rule out other causes of the symptoms. They may also perform a skin patch or blood test to confirm the diagnosis.

Treating Laundry Detergent Allergies

The best way to treat a laundry detergent allergy is to avoid exposure to the allergen. Here are some tips to help you avoid exposure:

Switch to a Fragrance-free or Hypoallergenic Detergent

If you have a laundry detergent allergy, switch to a fragrance-free detergent. Fragrances are a common allergen. Certain chemicals can also irritate those with sensitive skin.

Hypoallergenic detergents are designed for people with sensitive skin and are free from common allergens or chemicals known to irritate sensitive skin.

Rinse Your Clothes Thoroughly

Rinsing your clothes thoroughly after washing can help remove any residual detergent causing your symptoms. Use an extra rinse cycle to make sure that all the detergent is removed.

You may also consider cleaning the inside of the washer regularly to avoid any detergent buildup that could get on clothes after they’re rinsed.

Wear Gloves When Handling Laundry

Wearing gloves when handling laundry can help protect your skin from exposure to the allergen. Consider gloves that cover the hands as well as wrists to make sure your skin doesn’t come into contact with the clothes. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants may also be a good idea.

Avoid Fabric Softeners and Dryer Sheets

Fabric softeners and dryer sheets can contain chemicals that can irritate the skin and cause an allergic reaction. They may cause allergy symptoms to persist even when you’ve avoided contact with the laundry detergent. Avoid using the softener and sheets if you have a known allergy or if you continue to have a reaction when doing your laundry. 

Finding Relief

You can take several steps to reduce your risk of experiencing an allergic reaction, like switching to detergent without added fragrances or chemicals. By taking these steps, you can help keep your skin irritant-free.

If your symptoms persist despite these measures, or if you have a severe allergic reaction, seek medical attention. Your doctor may prescribe medications such as antihistamines or corticosteroids to help alleviate your symptoms.

Laundry detergent allergies are a common problem that affect many people. The symptoms can range from mild to severe. Recognizing any signs and symptoms is the first step toward finding relief. If you suspect you may have allergies, seeing a doctor or an allergist is a good idea for a proper diagnosis.

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