pool and sunscreen

7 Sources of Skin Irritation

pool and sunscreen

CC Image courtesy of Malia via Flickr.

Your skin is the largest organ of your body, and chances are good that you’ve experienced some irritation, blisters, or sores on your skin before. Skin acts as the body’s first level of defense against pollutants and germs, so it makes sense that the skin is often irritated. If you’re not using an organic salon product to deal with the irritation, it will likely get even worse.

Dermatitis, from the Greek word for skin, is a term that covers a wide range of inflammation. Some dermatitis conditions are caused by internal factors, such as hereditary genes combined with a chemical process. Eczema is a hereditary skin disease that is triggered by allergies, asthma, or stress. Other dermatitis conditions, however, are caused by an external allergen. This could be anything from a mosquito to a brush with poison ivy. And because your skin comes in contact with so many substances throughout the day, it’s often difficult to pinpoint the source. But having healthy skin doesn’t need to be a stressful journey. In this article, we look at the eight most common sources of skin irritation.


The most common examples of rash-inducing plants are poison ivy, sumac, and oak. None of these are life-threatening, though they are miserable to deal with. A person’s skin may develop red, itchy blisters which can last up to three weeks. If the rash is severe or occur in delicate areas such as the face, a dermatologist might prescribe a steroid to reduce inflammation and try to restore healthy skin.

Bugs and Insect Repellents

While insect bites can itch strongly, sometimes the repellents can cause troubles of their own. Some insects intend to draw out your blood, such as mosquitoes, ticks, and bedbugs. Others, like bees and ants, are simply defending their territory. Your genetic predisposition will determine whether these bites are minor irritations or extreme rashes. And when you use a bug repellent, be sure to wash it off thoroughly once you go back inside. The safest way to ward off bugs is to wear protective clothing; if the bugs are gathered thickly, you can even spray a layer of repellent over your clothes.

Household Cleaners

Most bottles of household cleaners contain warnings to avoid contact with the eyes and mouth. This means they can also cause irritation or rashes on the skin. Drain cleaners, dishwashing detergent, toilet bowl cleaners, glass cleaners, and all-purpose cleaners can all have detrimental effects if used frequently. To best avoid these side effects, switch to an alternative cleaner or wear thick rubber gloves while cleaning.


Though using sunscreen is always a good choice, sometimes its ingredients can cause skin irritations or rashes. The FDA has approved at least sixteen compounds as safe blockers of UV rays, which means manufacturers have a lot of choices. One of the worst allergen substances in sunscreen is para-aminobenzoic acid, also called PABA. If you experience a rash after using sunscreen, switch to a version without PABA, which may solve the problem. You may also want to ensure that your sunscreen interacts well with any salon products you might be using for makeup, since the ingredients of many cosmetic items can work against each other.

Laundry Detergent

The soap itself won’t irritate healthy skin, but prolonged exposure will. This happens when the soap isn’t properly washed out of your clothing, leaving remnants that will rub on your skin. The most common examples of this are dyes and fragrances, which are always difficult to rinse out. In response to these allergies, laundry detergent manufacturers are beginning to offer dye-free and fragrance-free options. If you suddenly develop a rash or skin irritation without an obvious cause, your first step should be to switch laundry detergents.

Shaving and Hair Removal

Rashes that occur here are usually called razor burn, and they result from not having enough shaving cream on the skin. The razor blades will scrape off the top layer of skin, leaving a rash. Waxing may cause some irritation on the skin for a few hours, but the inflammation can be reduced with odor-free lotion. Depilatory methods are also available, which are hair removal creams. However, some users have experienced itching, burning, blisters, and peeling. If you choose a depilatory cream, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.


You can hardly avoid using this substance, but you can be sure that it’s good for your skin. Your body might develop an allergy to the soap, which will cause a rash to break out. Or the soap might be stripping your skin of too many healthy oils, which are needed to keep the skin soft and elastic. If you do experience an allergic reaction, consider using a mild cleansing product instead. An organic salon product might be the perfect solution to the bad reaction.

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