If you have days where you wish you could stop the itch from skin irritants in your home, and the visible or invisible rashes they cause, you’re not alone. Contact dermatitis—where your skin reacts to a substance either due to an allergy or an irritant, is extremely common. In fact, nearly everyone faces this issue at some point in their lives. 

Worse, chronic conditions like atopic dermatitis (a.k.a. eczema), have been steadily rising for decades. Imagine trying to sleep or concentrate when you have what feels like dozens of mosquito bites on top of a sunburn, and you’ll get a sense of what eczema can feel like. Not fun. 

And today, 10% of American residents report experiencing eczema in some form—and 1 in 4 developed it as an adult!

What’s to blame for all this irritation and itching?

Results of many studies, over many years, tell us that much of the blame goes to environmental factors. High on the list: chemicals in our home and workplaces, and irritants and allergens overall.

Interestingly, children born outside the U.S. have a 50% lower risk of developing atopic dermatitis; and that risk actually increases after they’ve lived in the U.S. for 10 years*. One of the main differences may be that many other countries have stricter regulations on a wide array of residential, commercial and industrial toxins.

We’re immersed in a chemical soup, so finding ways to avoid as many of the triggers bothering our skin as possible, can really help!

What are the skin irritants in your home to check for and avoid? 

In many cases, particular allergies or reactions can develop because of repeated use, or are associated with a particular person’s sensitivities. There are also products that are just downright dangerous and you must take extra care when using them. You likely know some of the main ones: bleach, ammonia, drain cleaners, paint and varnish or acids (including those in batteries). 

But there are likely to be many other substances known to be common skin irritants in your home — many you may NOT think of. Here’s a sampling: 

  • Soap—while most natural soaps are okay, even some fragrance-free soaps can cause problems, particularly if you wash your hands very frequently. Soap strips skin of oils it’s supposed to have, gradually causing the skin to crack and bleed 
  • Ethyl Alcohol—the active ingredient in many hand sanitizers.
  • Plants, like poinsettias and peppers, as well as the more infamous poison ivy and oak.
  • Bodily fluids like urine and saliva.
  • Isothiazolinone—an antibacterial found in many types of baby wipes and other personal care products.
  • Formaldehyde—a common ingredient in disinfectants and glues.
  • Hair dyes—and dyes used to color laundry and other detergents.
  • Rubber—from the insoles on your shoes to the mousepad under your wrist or the keychain in your hand.
  • Nail polish remover.
  • Perfume and scented soaps, deodorant, hair sprays etc.
  • Metals (e.g., nickel–commonly used in fashion or costume jewelry) 
  • Moisturizers.
  • Fabric softeners.
  • Dust mites—or, to be more precise, their droppings.

What’s your next step to stop the itch?

Because the cumulative effect of multiple chemicals can contribute to worse effects for your skin, do what you can to eliminate unnecessary chemicals like these from your home and personal care routine. (Of course, we recommend choosing natural and organic solutions, like those from Srida Herbals to care for your skin and hair!)

For more detailed information on how to stop the itch and manage skin irritants in your home:

  • In the U.S., The National Eczema Association provides helpful information on dermatitis. 
  • Also, the U.K.’s National Eczema Society has a handy PDF summing up many of the most common household irritants that trigger eczema, along with ways to counter them. 

*Silverberg JI, Simpson EL, Durkin HG, Joks R. Prevalence of allergic disease in foreign-born American children. JAMA Pediatr. 2013;167(6):554-560.