Laundry detergent allergies are more common than you might think, but you might not realize what’s causing your discomfort. This detergent stays in contact with your skin for longer than virtually any other product. Problems may start as a mild itch that you barely even notice, or an unexplained rash. Managing these allergies is easier than you might think, and only takes a couple of minor changes in your daily routine. I have extremely sensitive skin, and this is the process I went through to pinpoint my own laundry detergent allergy. As with any condition, consult with your doctor if your symptoms persist or if you have any concerns.
Be sure of the allergy source
You may be absolutely sure you have a laundry detergent allergy, but it’s still a good idea to double-check before going through the hassle of fixing the problem. Chances are, you’ll notice symptoms in various places all over your body, so it’s hard to determine exactly which substances touched where and when. Whenever possible, get an allergy panel test to either include or exclude potential allergens. In some cases, you can get allergy tests that involve specific ingredients so you know what to avoid in future laundry detergent purchases.
Pick high-quality laundry detergent
Fragrances are the most likely allergy culprit when you have laundry detergent allergies. Try to pick a detergent that’s either low-fragrance or fragrance-free. Check for laundry detergents that are marked “dermatologist recommended,” “dermatologist approved” or “skin friendly” to single out the ones with the fewest known allergens. These usually have fewer irritating ingredients or lower concentrations of ingredients that commonly cause allergic reactions.
Use homemade laundry detergent
Whether you can’t find a good laundry detergent for your needs or just want to know what’s really in your detergent, you can always make your own. This is particularly easy to do if an allergy panel narrowed down the precise ingredient(s) that cause your reactions, because then you just don’t use those. A lot of commercial additives in laundry detergents are aimed at obtaining a particular consistency, color, or shelf stability. They’re not required to get clothes clean. By making your own laundry detergent, you can simplify the recipe and alter it as needed for your particular requirements.
Reduce direct contact with laundry detergent
You can still find some relief from allergy symptoms even if you can’t change the type of laundry detergent you use right away. Cut down how often and how long you are in contact with the detergent. Use a little extra water to do an extra rinse on each load of laundry to make sure all of the detergent has washed away. If you use powdered detergent, rinse the scoop and keep it outside of the container so that powder doesn’t get on the handle. For liquid detergents, rinse the cap after every use, then wipe down the sides of the bottle whenever any detergent drips down the sides. Wash your hands immediately after you’re done adding laundry detergent to new loads.
These management techniques work best for generally sensitive skin, or in cases where the exact allergen hasn’t been determined. Note that these are only management suggestions, and only a doctor can offer a diagnosis or treatment for your specific allergies.