Detergent allergy often develops abruptly after a phase of prolonged exposure. Nevertheless, an individual can also use a certain product for years without any issues before developing the detergent allergy symptoms.
The symptoms of this allergy typically arise from direct exposure to the skin with the laundry detergent or lingering soap residue on clothing or bedding. Determining a diagnosis can be difficult if the individual already has allergic reactions to various ingredients in cleaning products. The adverse reactions usually arise after contact with abrasives, perfumes, bleaching compounds and other components present in detergents.
Potential reactions to detergent allergy
The skin that was exposed to detergent starts to itch in patches. This might indicate allergic contact dermatitis from the detergent. Once the body wrongly perceives an ingredient in laundry detergent as a threat, it triggers an inflammatory response by releasing histamine into the bloodstream.
As a response, localized itchiness develops. By ensuring that exposure to the detergent rather than fabric abrasion causes the itchiness, it will lead to a correct diagnosis.
The detergents might contain several ingredients where many are capable of triggering allergic reactions in some highly sensitive individuals. The dyes, fragrances and preservatives are known to trigger most of the reactions. Other possible allergenic components include petroleum distillates, ammonia, synthetic surfactants and polymers. In some individuals, they can suffer from stinging or burning sensation as well.
What are the inflammatory symptoms?
The itchy skin might start to swell which leads to warmth, elevated rash and redness. Once the inflammation spreads, the symptoms of detergent allergy can develop in other areas as well. It might be hard for the individual to determine when he/she was exposed to the allergens since the detergent residues can linger in clothing and these can be stored in closets for a long period of time.
There are also some ingredients such as optical brighteners that only trigger an allergic reaction once they get in touch with the skin that eventually receives sunlight exposure. Take note that this might trigger severe rashes including sore hives or blisters. The blisters filled with fluid eventually drain which oftentimes break the skin and crust over.
The itchy, reddened, stinging eyes can also affect individuals with detergent allergy. The direct handling of laundry detergent can cause the skin symptoms on the hands while contact with the eyes can trigger allergic conjunctivitis.
The diluted or liquid detergents can splash or migrate from the hands to the eyes. Individuals who are sensitive might suffer from an allergic reaction in the eyes from contact with the soap residue from pillowcases or washcloths. The irritation of the mucous membrane of the eye increases the fluid production which results to additional symptoms such as overflowing tears.