First, irritants are chemicals that literally irritate the skin by doing things like removing lipids by physically destroying the skin barrier. An irritant reaction can result in a physical breakdown of the skin barrier that is often followed by an inflammatory reaction. And second, allergens are chemicals that actually trigger an immune reaction to fight off the chemical. This then leads to inflammation and itching and certainly encourages the itch scratch cycle of eczema.
There are numerous allergens and irritants all around you every day and, if you are empowered with the knowledge of how to avoid them, your eczema will certainly improve and your skin will thank you.
Common irritants around the home include soaps, hot water, solvents, dust and other personal care products. Here is a list of common irritants in the home:
- Laundry detergent
- Fabric softener and dryer sheets
- Dishwashing liquid
- Bath Products
- Bubble bath
When using any of these household items, it’s always the best idea to wear rubber gloves whenever you make contact with these substances. And children should avoid them altogether.
I have spent hundreds of hours studying the entire world’s literature regarding allergens in atopic dermatitis. There is major debate about whether or not people who have eczema develop more allergic reactions that do people who do not have eczema.
What I found was very interesting. In most of the studies, people who had atopic dermatitis were more likely to be allergic to more than one chemical compared to people who did not have atopic dermatitis. In some studies, up to 90% of children who had atopic dermatitis were found to be allergic to at least one chemical when they were patch tested to the most common allergens.
Please be sure to talk to your physician or health care professional about your condition and how best to manage your symptoms. Keeping a personal journal will help you to identify your eczema triggers, so that you can avoid them in the future and manage your eczema more sufficiently.