Is Laundry Detergent Causing Your Child’s Skin Rash?
Find out the signs that your child’s rash could be caused by laundry detergent. And if so, how to soothe their discomfort fast!
The market is bubbling over with detergents for baby laundry, some claiming to be No. 1 with pediatricians or recommended by dermatologists. Washing children’s clothing and blankets in gentle, hypoallergenic detergent can help protect delicate skin.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
But when can you start washing baby’s items with the regular family laundry?
“There is no set time. It depends on your infant’s skin and family history,” says pediatric dermatologist Joan Tamburro, DO. “A child who has skin problems may be more prone to laundry detergent reactions. A family history of atopic dermatitis (eczema) also may put your infant at higher risk.”
For some kids, clothing or detergent can cause two types of skin problems:
If laundry detergent or fabric softener bothers your child’s skin, Dr. Tamburro recommends you:
The rash is probably not caused by laundry detergent if your child also has:
Hives (itchy, red welts) are usually due to a food allergy, infection, stress or other internal reaction.
“A quick way to tell if a rash is caused by detergent or something else is to check under your child’s diaper, where clothing doesn’t touch their skin,” says Dr. Tamburro. “If the rash is there, it’s not caused by detergent. Also, detergent-triggered rashes are typically worse on arms and legs, where clothing is tighter and rubs more on the skin.”
If your child’s itching is severe (such as waking them up at night, distracting them from other things), try an over-the-counter hydrocortisone ointment. If itching lasts for more than a week, or if it is accompanied by hives or breathing, stomach or intestinal trouble, see your doctor.