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Laundry detergents and fabric softeners are chemical products for washing and softening clothes. However, they do accumulate in clothes with repeated washes.
The chemicals in these washing products are then slowly released. When they come in contact with the skin, these chemicals behave as irritants and can worsen eczema symptoms.
These chemical agents can trigger eczema symptoms such as itch, dry skin, inflamed lesions and skin rashes.
By design, laundry detergents use chemical agents that are not easily broken down. They also contain chemicals that are known oxidizers. Oxidizers are included to help remove tough stains that stick to clothes fabrics.
However, by nature these chemicals are toxic. For example, oxidizers can increase oxidative stress in the skin. They directly damage skin cells, change the pH of the skin and trigger inflammatory reactions.
The enzymes included in these detergents are also just as dangerous. These are the same digestive enzymes required for degrading proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Therefore, these enzymes can destroy the lipids and proteins that make up the skin.
While laundry detergents are meant for washing and expected to be removed after rinsing, fabric softeners are designed to coat the surface of cloth fabrics with a layer of chemicals.
The chemical layer provided by fabric softeners leaves clothes smoother and softer while also preventing static cling.
However, that same layer can directly irritate the skin. Common chemicals used in fabric softeners have been linked to multiple health problems. For example, chloroform, formaldehyde and benzyl acetate are known carcinogens.
Why Detergents and Fabric Softeners Are Bad for Eczema
- They are left as residues in clothes even after repeated rinsing
- They contain toxic chemicals that can directly irritate the skin
- They can dry out the skin by absorbing moisture from it
- They release oxidizing free radicals and enzymes that destroy the tissues of the skin