Common skin irritants

Skin acts as the primary medium of defense against foreign bodies. Every day the skin is exposed to various types of irritants which may cause itching, irritation, swelling and breakouts. Skin irritation can be triggered by various factors like seasonal changes, allergies and chemicals. Diseases that are characterized by skin inflammation, redness, itching and rash resulting from direct contact with an external agent is collectively termed as ‘Dermatitis’. In some cases internal body conditions like stress, asthma, etc may also trigger occurrence of dermatitis. It is often difficult to rule out the cause for the irritation. Once diagnosed, the symptoms can be minimized by use of over the counter ointments or lotions. However if symptoms persist or become severe it is advisable to consult a dermatologist.

It is important to know about the common skin irritants and measures to keep your skin protected against them.

Following are a list of common skin irritants that affect the skin:

  • Cosmetics
  • Some people develop skin irritation after using deodorants, cosmetics and makeup items. Tips – use products which are free of fragrance and additives, check shelf-life of the product on label, keep make-up brushes hygienic and free of bacteria, test the product on skin before purchasing  

    • Clothing

    Certain fabrics can cause skin irritation because of roughness of the material, chemical additives or dyes in the clothes. Constant rubbing of skin against the fabric will result in rashes and to prevent bacterial infections always wear fabrics which allow the skin to breathe

    • Cleaning agents

    Cleaning liquids/soaps contain hazardous chemicals that irritate skin. It is advised to use protective gloves and skin friendly detergents/surface cleaners.

    • Plants

    Several plants like English/Poison Ivy, hot peppers, Colocasia (Elephant ear plant), Oak, Sumac, Euphorbia, etc can leave your skin red and itchy. The best prevention against these triggers is to keep your skin covered.

    • Sunscreen

    Suncreens contain specific chemicals such as para-aminobenzoic acid that could provoke allergic reactions in some people. If your skin is sensitive, try different sunscreens until you find a suitable one.

    • Heat

    Heat rash is a common type of skin problem that occur due to extreme hot conditions. Tips – avoid excessive sweating, keep body cool, take showers in cold water, wear loose-fitting clothes.

    • Insects

    Some insect/bug bites and stings can cause skin irritation. Tips – Use of ice packs on the area, consumption of oral antihistamine drugs if directed by physician.

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