Many times when a person breaks out into a red, itchy rash they place the blame on their laundry detergent. Laundry detergents commonly contain harsh chemicals, perfumes and dyes that can irritate the skin. Exposure to these substances can lead to a type of allergic reaction known as contact dermatitis. To properly care for the skin, it is important to determine whether the cause of the inflammation is an allergy or simply a rinse cycle that failed to remove all the soap from the clothing. Additionally, skin irritation can be caused by a number of other disorders such as eczema, psoriasis or dermatitis. Proper and effective treatment will depend on an accurate diagnosis.
Examine the irritation. Those who have detergent allergies typically suffer from itching, redness, inflammation or peeling where the skin has been in contact with the clothing.
Take an over-the-counter antihistamine or apply an anti-itch ointment to the affected area for temporary relief.
Re-wash the laundry using baking soda rather than detergent. Run the clothes through rinse cycle twice to ensure all traces of detergent are removed.
Wear the newly washed clothing and make note of any reactions where the cloth comes into contact with the skin. If the skin irritation disappears, there is a high probability of a detergent allergy.
See a physician--specifically, an allergist--for the administration of a scratch test. This is a medically accurate diagnostic procedure in which the skin is exposed to the suspected allergen, in this case a specific type of laundry detergent. The exposed area is then monitored for signs of an allergic reaction.