If the results of a patch test indicate sensitivity to a specific substance, our dermatologists suggest completely removing that substance from your routine. This may be as easy as avoiding a certain type of cleanser or changing your deodorant.
But some fragrances and preservatives are used in many products, which can make avoiding them a challenge. It can be overwhelming and time-consuming to read through long ingredient lists to identify which products are safe to use.
Our dermatologists can search a large database of common products and provide you with a list of options that are safe for you to use. Often, these products are available at drugstores and aren’t difficult to find.
In addition, dermatologists recommend taking simple steps at home to avoid common triggers such as hot and cold temperatures, irritating fabrics, and hot showers. Trigger avoidance may prevent symptoms from recurring or from getting worse.
Often, making changes to the temperature inside a home, school, or office helps control symptoms of eczema and dermatitis. Cold, dry air may cause skin to become cracked, scaly, and dry. Skin that lacks moisture is more vulnerable to irritation.
Using a humidifier in addition to maintaining a moderate room temperature—our doctors recommend 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit—during winter months may help skin retain moisture.
During the summer, heat and humidity can worsen eczema and dermatitis. Sweat makes skin itch and provides an environment for bacteria to grow, increasing the risk of infection. In warm weather, using an air conditioner to keep air cool and dry can help prevent rashes.
Showers and Baths
Long, hot showers or baths strip the skin of oils and moisture. Our dermatologists understand that most people prefer to bathe or shower daily but recommend short, lukewarm showers or baths. This prevents loss of the skin’s natural barriers against exposure to irritants and avoids stripping the skin of its natural oils and defenses.
Fragrances and Preservatives
Many common products contain ingredients that may cause allergic dermatitis. These products include perfumes and colognes as well as fragranced lotion, deodorants, soap, bubble bath, shampoo, conditioner, laundry detergent, and fabric softener.
Many of these products also contain preservatives to give them a long shelf life. Preservatives in cleansing wipes may linger on the skin if you don’t rinse after using them. Preservatives are also used in many fragrance-free skin care and beauty products, including foundation and lipstick.
Some brands of moisturizers and cosmetics have fragrance-free and low-preservative varieties, and these distinctions are usually marked clearly on the bottle or packaging.
Fabrics with rough textures, such as wool and tweed, can cause irritant dermatitis and make other types of rashes worse. Also, pigments in dyed fabric may be the source of chemical allergens that can cause contact dermatitis. Doctors recommend avoiding these fabrics and choosing light-colored or dye-free clothing made from 100 percent cotton or silk, which is less likely to irritate the skin.