Many people have skin allergies, we look at common culprits that cause allergies and how to counter the effects. 

Many people have skin allergies, we look at common culprits that cause allergies and how to counter the effects.

There's nothing fun about having an itchy skin, especially when you don't know where it's coming from. Here are some of the more well known sources of allergens. There are always alternatives, so if you're prone to allergies or have sensitive skin, try and avoid the triggers.

DID YOU KNOW? 'Allergic contact dermatitis' is the term used for a rash or irritation of the skin that happens when allergens (substances that the immune system reacts to as foreign) touch your skin. It's estimated that atopic dermatitis affects up to 3 percent of adults. 

Household Cleaners 

Many of the products we keep below the sink are culprits. These include solvents and adhesives. One of these, cyanoacrylate, is found in most superglues. Organic solvents, used to dissolve stains and grease or potent solvents like charcoal lighter fluid, paint thinner, furniture stripper, and nail polish although they are more like irritants, they often induce skin allergies. An allergic reaction will look like hives, or red patches that are usually very itchy.

Fragrance & Perfumes 

Allergies to perfumes and fragrances are on the rise. Fragrances are used in hundreds of products, from shampoos, soaps and body washes to room sprays, detergents and household cleaners. Look for fragrance free products and don't be misled by products labelled 'unscented'. Even those can cause allergies because they may have a fragrance in them designed to block scent. Some natural oils also cause allergic reactions so be aware of that too. 


A leading skin specialist says the most common allergy she sees is a reaction to nickel. Lots of jewellery products have nickel, even some gold jewellery. Look out for nickel in spectacle frames, metal fasteners ' buttons, hooks, press studs and zips, belt buckles and watch straps. Metals used in body piercings often have nickel. When purchasing products, see if you can see a nickel-free label. 


Latex is a milky fluid taken from rubber trees and processed into things like rubber gloves, balloons, condoms, rubber bands and various other products. If contact with latex makes your skin red and itchy that's a sign you could be allergic. Latex allergy can also manifest in more severe symptoms like itchy eyes, difficulty breathing and vomiting. 

Hair Dye 

If you have a reaction from hair dye you've probably come into contact para-phenylenediamine (PPD). This is normally mixed with peroxide to get a permanent hair colouring. Many people with a sensitivity to PPD will also be sensitive to ingredients found in semipermanent hair dyes. Henna found in hair dye and in tattoos is also another allergenic. It's important to test a small area if you think you might be sensitive.  

Poisonous Plants

Plants like poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac contain the oil urushiol, that can cause an allergic reaction. Not everyone will react to it though but if you are the include itchy skin, redness, hives, and blisters. Sometimes urushiol sticks to pet fur, firewood or shoes so look out for secondary contact with this substance. 


Bare skin against wool often reacts in a rash from the texture of the fabric. Fabric-related allergy is usually from formaldehyde resin. These are used to waterproof fabric and make them shrink and wrinkle resistant. They're often found in elastic too. If affected, you might experience burning eyes, skin rashes, and chest tightness. Look for untreated natural fabrics or those only lightly treated. You should be okay with pure cotton, polyester, nylon, and acrylic. Also be aware that it might be the softener or washing powder you are allergic to. 

Beauty & Body products 

Of course fragrance is an issue with cosmetics but preservatives are also a concern. Redness, swelling, and hives tend to happen in people with allergies to specific ingredients, like formaldehyde, parabens, and thimerosal. What many people don't look out for is the allergens in nail varnish that hasn't yet dried. It's a common cause of eyelid dermatitis. When its dry, it's fine but one should avoid contact with eyes until its completely dry. 

Creams & Potions 

Neomycin is the offender in antibiotic creams and ointments used for cuts, pain relief or ear and eye drops. If you are allergic or sensitive to neomycin you will get an inflamed rash wherever you've applied it.  Remember to tell your dentist and doctor to avoid products with neomycin. 


Some sun creams only become allergic when exposed to ultraviolet sun rays. That's because some are converted into allergens with sun exposure. This is known as a photocontact allergy, or photoallergic reaction. Avid sunscreens with PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid), benzophenones, oxybenzone, salicylates, and cyclohexanol. 

“Wellness Warehouse strives to help you live life well but because we are retailers and not medical practitioners we cannot offer medical advice. Please always consult your medical practitioner before taking any supplements, complementary medicines or have any health concerns and ensure that you always read labels, warnings and directions carefully, prior to consumption.”