Eczema is a skin condition characterized by red, itchy, swollen patches that appear in response to a host of triggers.
In addition to practicing good skin care, you need to monitor these triggers to discover which ones cause reactions. Believe it or not, anything from airborne pollutants to chemicals in your laundry detergent can set your skin off.
While you might not be able to control triggers you encounter in public, you can make changes to the products you use around your home to reduce flare-ups.
Eczema and Laundry Detergent: An Itchy Problem
Though many studies show that reactions to laundry detergents are rare at normal levels of exposure, chemicals tend to build up in fabric over time.
This creates a cycle of repeated exposure that can lead to irritation, especially for babies and children whose skin is the most sensitive.
The cocktail of chemicals and enzymes found in most commercial detergents is useful for breaking up dirt and removing stains from clothes but is by no means the only way to keep your family’s wardrobe clean.
Scented laundry detergents can be especially problematic for eczema sufferers, so it’s best to seek alternatives that make use of more natural ingredients.
Choosing a Detergent
When selecting a laundry detergent for eczema, look for these elements to reduce chemical exposure and the related irritation:
- Plant-sourced or vegetable-based ingredients
- Fragrance-free rather than unscented
- Neutral pH
- Kid-friendly and safe for babies
An added bonus to purchasing these products is that many are biodegradable and aren’t tested on animals, making them good for the environment as well as your skin.
The Right Way to Do Laundry
No matter what detergent you use, it’s important that you follow proper washing instructions to ensure that your clothes not only come out clean but also free from any type of residue that might cause eczema to flare up.
Read the bottle on your chosen natural detergent and follow the instructions for how much to use in loads of varying sizes. Check your washing machine to ensure that you don’t overload it and that you select the correct cycle for the amount of clothes you’re washing. This ensures that all the clothes get clean without retaining excess soap. For added insurance against irritation, run an extra rinse cycle at the end of cleaning.
It’s important to put all clothing, including brand-new items, though this type of careful wash cycle before wearing them. New clothes often have chemical residues in the fabric and may carry other environmental contaminants from packing, shipping and simply sitting on store racks.
After making the switch to a new detergent, it may take a few wash cycles to remove all of the old soap that accumulated in the fabric. If you find that your skin is still irritated even though you’re using a natural product, wash your clothes again, being sure to rinse them well.
Changing laundry detergents will only help your eczema if you choose clothing made from gentle fibers that don’t scratch, rub or scrape your skin. Aim for 100 percent cotton whenever possible and avoid synthetics and itchy fibers such as wool or hemp. Seek out tagless brands and check seams for rough edges before buying.
Choosing these types of clothes and switching to natural, plant-based laundry detergents can help you and your family get relief from eczema and the related irritation. Focus on gentle products made with ingredients that aren’t created in labs to find the safest products and keep an eye out for any other chemicals around your home that may be triggering skin reactions.