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Pediatrics and Neonatology

Irritated skin on your child? It can be your detergent

Have you noticed that your little one has irritated skin and you don't know why? Find out if detergent is the enemy of your baby's skin

Irritated skin on your child? It can be your detergent

The skin is the largest organ in our body; it is also the most exposed. Children's skin, especially babies', has special characteristics that make it more vulnerable. Therefore, babies and children are more susceptible to skin irritations and infections.

Irritated skin can be caused by different factors, the most common is detergent. The market is full of detergents for baby clothes, some claim to be number 1 used by Pediatricians or recommended by Dermatologists. Washing children's clothing and blankets with a mild, hypoallergenic detergent can help protect delicate skin.

But, when can you begin to wash the baby's clothes together with the rest of the family's?
There is no exact. It depends on the skin and family history of the baby. A child who has irritated skin problems may be more prone to laundry detergent reactions. A family history of Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema) can also put the baby at greater risk.

Types of Reactions

For some children, clothing or detergent can cause two types of skin problems:
This red and itchy rash usually occurs immediately, for example, as soon as your child puts on a wool sweater. The irritation disappears quickly when the irritant is removed.
Allergic contact dermatitis
This also appears as a red, itchy rash, but usually not with immediate contact. If your child is allergic to laundry detergent or fabric softener, you may not notice redness or itching for up to a week. The immune system may take a while to identify allergens.

Your baby may be exposed to a substance several times before it shows a reaction.

How to stop eruption?

If the laundry detergent or fabric softener bothers your child's skin, it is recommended:

Use detergents and fabric softeners without dyeing or fragrance.

Often they are the scents and dyes that cause the problem of irritated skin. Most laundry detergents and fabric softeners include them, including some products marketed for baby clothes. Therefore, be alert. Look for detergents without perfume or colorants.

Stay with a detergent.

Do not buy just any brand that is available. Changing detergents can make it harder to find out what is causing the skin problem.

Rinse the clothes twice.

Make sure you remove all detergent residue from your clothes.

Wash before use.

Not all children can wear clothes directly from the store. The skin of some children is irritated with new clothes. Wash off chemicals before putting clothes on your child.

Do not use bleach or stain remover.

These products can be very aggressive both with the clothes and the skin of your child. If the clothes have stains that seem difficult to remove with regular detergent, it is best to scrub them with hot water and a neutral soap before putting them through the washing cycle.

Remember that these tips do not apply only to your children's clothes; you should also use them for everything that comes in contact with your child's skin such as sheets, stuffed animals, bath towels, and blankets. 


When the itching is more than superficial

Most skin problems are not related to detergent. Allergies to food, medicines, plants, or insect bites can also cause itchy skin rashes.

The rash is probably not caused by laundry detergent if your child also has:


  • Respiratory problems, such as wheezing or cough
  • Eyelids or swollen lips
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Urticaria (itching, red welts) is usually due to a food allergy, infection, stress, or other internal reaction.

A quick way to know if a rash is caused by detergent or something else is to check under your child's diaper, where the clothes do not touch the skin. If the rash is there, it is not caused by the detergent. In addition, rashes caused by detergent tend to be worse on the arms and legs, where clothing is tighter and rubs more the skin.

If you have noticed that your child has irritated skin, some other abnormal signs in its skin, or any of the mentioned symptoms, do not hesitate to consult your Pediatric Dermatologist. He/she will make a diagnosis to identify the cause of the symptoms and prescribe the appropriate treatment. 


When consulting your Pediatric Dermatologist, please try to keep a detailed record of your child's reactions, family history, symptoms, and duration, and mention if your child is taking any medications.

BlueNetHospitals - Hospital Los Cabos 
BlueNet Hospitals