Unexplained itchiness driving you to distraction? The answer could be lurking in your laundry basket.
Few things feel nicer than putting on a freshly washed pair of pyjamas, but a few days ago I did just this and almost instantly broke out in an unbearably itchy bout of hives.
In my search for the cause, I inspected the laundry detergent box – and it left me none the wiser. Amongst ‘other ingredients’, the vague list named:
- 15-30% Oxygen based bleaching agents
- 5-15% Non-ionic surfactants
- >5% Zeolite, Cationic surfactants, Poly carboxylates, Phosphonates, Soap
- Also contains Optical brightener, Perfume
For me, “oxygen based bleaching agents” and “optical brighteners” are far too vague, and clearly made-up ingredient names!
Now I know we’re not ingesting the stuff, but environmental triggers such as household products can cause serious flare-ups, as my sore and itchy back is proving.
For that reason, us sensitive skin sufferers need to know exactly what’s in the box.
Here’s what I’ve learnt about selecting more sensitive skin-friendly suds:
- Pick a liquid detergent over a powder, as it’s less likely to leave residues in your fabric.
- Choose a non-biological detergent as these are enzyme-free. It’s thought that enzymes can aggravate damaged skin and many report an immediate improvement after switching from biological.
- Use half of the recommend amount of detergent or opt for Eco wash balls instead.
- Use less detergent on garments and bed linen that is going to be in direct contact with the skin for sustained periods of time.
- Pick an un-fragranced detergent as artificial fragrances are one of the most common skin irritants.
- Opt for a long rinse cycle to ensure all detergent residues have been washed away.
- Don’t overload your machine as this can prevent thorough rinsing.