Soaps are used in a wide range of commercial products including laundry detergents, industrial cleansers and shower and bath products. Most soaps contain fragrances and chemicals that can trigger allergies, with symptoms ranging from respiratory reactions to skin problems. A person who suffers from soap allergies will need to find hypoallergenic alternatives.
Soaps have been around for thousands of years to help people clean and avoid odor problems. The Babylonians made soaps as early as 2800 B.C. to clean textile fibers before they wove cotton or wool into cloth. The Romans made soap out of goat's tallow, causticized wood ashes and salt. These soaps were made from oils and natural products. Today, most soaps are made from detergents derived from petrochemicals.
People can have allergic reactions to bar soap, liquid antibacterial soap, bubble baths, shampoos, laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid and car-washing solutions. The majority of soaps contain chemicals such as formaldehyde, phenol, phthalates and glycerin. They also usually contain fragrances, as manufacturers and consumers want products that smell good. People react in different ways to the chemicals and pungent scents.
People who are allergic to soap can develop skin rashes, itching, bumps, exzema and other irritation from the soaps they use to bathe, wash dishes and wash clothes and linens. Contact dermatitis is one type of allergic reaction that usually occurs within 30 minutes after touching a product. Redness, scaling and blisters can appear on the skin.
People with severe chemical allergies may develop wheezing, shortness of breath, asthma and bronchiospasms from commercial soaps. They also may suffer from headaches, dizziness, nausea, sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, blurred vision, diarrhea and even flu-like symptoms. Prolonged exposure can affect a person's ability to work or live in an environment where people use cosmetics, perfumes, cleaning agents or deodorizers. Eventually, the person may develop multiple chemical sensitivities. This is a debilitating autoimmune condition where people have trouble functioning around soaps and chemicals.
People with soap allergies need to replace these products to avoid more severe reactions. With the advent of the green movement, plenty of hypoallergenic or environmentally safe soaps are on the market. Find a bar soap that you can tolerate and buy perfume-free laundry detergent and dishwashing liquid. It may take a little experimenting, but most people can solve a soap allergy problem eventually.