From reddened skin to itching and burning sensations, the common symptoms of skin irritation are an important sign that you need to quickly identify and remove the irritant from your environment. If you ignore the first symptoms, repeated exposure to the most common skin irritants can cause allergies or contact dermatitis.

Discover the most common skin irritants, from clothing to cosmetics and find out how to avoid the unpleasant effects of a skin rash before allowing it to develop into a serious condition.


Up to 20% of children and 3% of adults suffer from eczema caused by fabrics. Called atopic dermatitis, this condition is usually caused by wool and other rough fabrics. The best way to avoid it is to stick to cotton and cotton polyester when it comes to your clothing. Even when the fabric itself doesn’t cause irritation, the dyes and other chemical substances used in processing fabrics can cause trouble. If you have sensitive skin, you should also avoid any fabrics that dry slowly and aren’t breathable.


Itchy and dry skin can be a result of washing your hands too often. Soap is one of the most common skin irritants, whether the reaction is caused by fragrances, dyes or washing too often and stripping away the natural oils on your skin. Rinsing thoroughly is very important, but if you can also find plenty of soaps and body washes designed for sensitive skin.

Dryer Sheets

When you suspect that clothing is causing a rash, don’t rule out dryer sheets. They can often be the main cause of rashes, causing redness and itching. Switch to liquid fabric-softeners, and choose a fragrance-free product if you want to minimize the risk of any further irritation on your skin.

Household Cleaners

From dish detergent to furniture polish, most household cleaners contain strong chemicals that can have a negative impact on your skin. Among the most common skin irritants, you can also find window cleaners and bathroom disinfectants. To minimize the risk, always wear gloves when handling them and make sure you properly air every room in which you use them.


Whether they’re in perfume or other cosmetics, fragrances can be responsible for allergies that are very difficult to identify correctly. Once a dermatologist confirms that your trouble is caused by one of the more than 5,000 fragrances used in a wide range of products, you might need to go completely fragrance-free, both for cosmetics and household cleaners.

Facial Creams

When it comes to facial creams, one of the most common skin irritants, it can be quite difficult to decide when redness is a rash or simply proof of a products delivering its promised benefits. AHAs like malic acid and glycolic acid, used in many creams can cause temporary discomfort and reddened skin, but a burning sensation is never normal. Other troublesome ingredients in facial creams include parabens and ascorbic acid.

Laundry Detergents

Fragrance-free detergents aren’t completely odorless, but they’re much less likely to lead to rashes and eczema caused by prolonged exposure. Before deciding that your skin troubles are caused by laundry detergents, make sure your clothes are properly rinsed in the washing machine. Even dye-free and fragrance-free detergents can be harsh on the skin if they’re not correctly rinsed out.


While harmful UV radiation also has negative effects on unprotected skin, even sunscreen is one of the most common skin irritants. If you already know your skin is sensitive, read the ingredients on sunscreen carefully and stay away from para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA). Stick to PABA-free sunscreens and you’ll be a lot less likely to develop rash and other skin problems caused by sunscreen.

Cosmetics Preservatives

When dyes and fragrances aren’t the problem, preservatives in cosmetics can also irritate your skin. Of course, the dangers of avoiding additives and preservatives in your cosmetics is a shorter shelf life. Luckily, keeping most cosmetics refrigerated is a good way to compensate for the use of less preservatives, since they’re one of the most common skin irritants.

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