Many common hygiene and beauty products like soaps, shampoos, conditioners, and antiperspirants contain ingredients that trigger two different types of skin reactions.  One type, “irritant contact dermatitis,” actually damages the skin by causing burning, itching, and stinging wherever the product touches the skin.  Severe reactions may also develop blisters.  The other type of reaction is called “allergic contact dermatitis,” which causes systemic reactions that involve the body’s own immune system.  Swelling, redness, and hives can appear on areas of the body that have had no direct contact with the offending product.  It is often difficult to tell the two types of dermatitis apart, but an allergist can prescribe treatments that minimize physical discomfort and can help identify reaction triggers.

P.S.  Fragrances that are added to hygiene products may cause reactions in some sensitive individuals.  Buying products that are “fragrance-free” may help.

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