Did you know that shampoo is a leading cause of dermatitis? And if you suffer from the condition on a regular basis, your shampoo could be doing you more harm than good. We look at why shampoo is so problematic and how to find one that works for your skin.
What is dermatitis?
Dermatitis is simply the term given to an irritation of the skin, whatever causes it. Dermatitis can be caused by all sorts of things, from metals against your skin, the laundry powder you use, dust in the air or plants you touch accidentally. Eczema is one form of dermatitis, although it’s a chronic version which tends to come and go in flares, rather than a case caused by something like an irritating fabric or household chemicals.
Dermatitis can get worse in winter, and it can be hard to pinpoint exactly what caused any particular flare-up of itchy, inflamed skin.
Can shampoo cause dermatitis?
Sometimes the culprit for a flare up of dermatitis is unexpected! But shampoo is actually a leading cause of skin irritation, and not just on the scalp. Hair products can be responsible for itchy, dry skin on the face, around the eyes, on the neck, and on the hands, as well as itchy, flaky scalps (one kind of skin irritation of the scalp is known as seborrheic dermatitis), so if you’re getting dermatitis consider whether it could have been caused by your shampoo.
The reason shampoo is so problematic is because most shampoos contain not just one but multiple irritants for sensitive skin. These include scents and scent-masking ingredients, lathering agents, preservatives, stabilisers, emulsifiers and softening agents.
Significant culprits for dermatitis in shampoo
- Fragrance (also known as parfum, perfume or scent)
- Sulphates (sulfates) such as sodium lauryl sulphate, sodium laureth sulphate, aluminium lauryl sulphate etc.
Other ingredients that can cause problems for sensitive skin include:
- Cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB)
- methylchloroisothiazolinone/methylisothiazolinone (MCI/MI),
- dimethylol dimethyl [DMDM] hydantoin
- diazolidinyl urea
- Imidazolidinyl Urea
- Iodopropynyl butyl carbamate (IPBC)
- methyldibromo glutaronitrile
- propylene glycol
Finding a good shampoo for dermatitis
The good news is that even just stopping using an ordinary shampoo with all its various irritants can improve things for many people. Your new shampoo doesn’t need to be actively treating the inflamed skin of your scalp or face, it just needs not to contain irritants.
However, taking all these different problematic ingredients into consideration can leave you with little choice if you’re suffering from a dermatitis flare. Your mission to find a neutral, non-irritant shampoo is likely to be focussed on checking ingredients lists for sulphates, fragrance and harsh preservatives, but this will become second nature the more you do it.
Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash
with calendula & chamomile, is a good option for washing sensitive skin. It is unfragranced, free from the problematic ingredients listed above, and uses natural essential oils as a chemical-free preservation system. It uses gentle, 100% biodegradable plant-derived non-ionic surfactants which are made from soy, corn and coconut rather than sulphate-based detergents.
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.