Skincare & Detergents

Research suggests that 20% of all cases of contact dermatitis are caused by synthetic fragrances


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Skincare & detergents

In order to identify possible triggers of your eczema, it is useful to know how the condition affects your skin. The skin needs a certain level of moisture, fats and oils to lubricate the skin, retain water and keep the skin plump. It has been identified that eczema sufferers often don’t produce the levels of fats and oils that are needed to maintain healthy skin.

When the skin doesn’t contain the right level of moisture, gaps may appear between the cells, allowing germs, bacteria and allergens to get through and cause the irritation, and you get the classic eczema symptoms of itchy, red, inflamed, cracked and sore skin.

Irritation is further exacerbated by using harsh chemicals on the skin, such as astringent toiletry products, which can strip the skin of its natural oils aurtnd cause fher aggravation to already sensitive skin.

Soaps, Shower Gels, Bubble Baths

Soaps, wash products and liquid cleansers can all strip oils from the skin and reduce the effectiveness of the skin barrier. Unless you replace the oil by using a moisturiser after washing, the water from the skin begins to evaporate.

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) is often used in skincare products to create a foaming or lathering effect when used with water. SLS is a synthetic ingredient that can make the skin more susceptible to irritation. A study by Bath University showed that aqueous cream containing sodium lauryl sulphate (regularly prescribed by GPs for the treatment of eczema) reduced the thickness of healthy skin in volunteers by more than 10% in just 4 weeks and increased water loss.


Preservatives like methylparaben or butylparaben are used in skincare and cosmetic products to extend their shelf-life and inhibit the growth of bacteria. These preservatives can cause skin irritation though and lead to inflammation so it is best to avoid them if possible. There are plenty of naturally derived preservatives available, so look for products that use ingredients like essential oils, neem oil or grapefruit seed extract.


Synthetic fragrance is a known skin irritant, and a common element in many skincare and cosmetic products. It is thought that 25% of the general population have a sensitivity to fragrance, and is believed to account for as many as 1 in 5 incidences of contact dermatitis.


The skin on your hands is thinner than that on the rest of your body. As a result, the regular exposure to water, detergents and the elements can quickly cause the skin on your hands to become sore, itchy and inflamed. Try to minimise your exposure to harsh chemicals like washing up liquids, hand soaps and household cleaning fluids by opting for natural alternatives or wear rubber gloves when cleaning the house and washing up.

Top Tips

Your skin comes into contact with potential allergens hundreds of times a day. Washing your hands, showering, doing the washing up, cleaning the house and doing the washing.

Common triggers for eczema are products containing detergents, soaps and perfumes.