If you suffer from dermatitis then you’ll be aware of how hard it is to find a soap that doesn’t irritate your skin. In this article we take a look at the problems with soap for sensitive skin.
What is dermatitis?
Dermatitis is the term given to an irritation of the skin, often caused by contact with an irritating substance. There are many different types of dermatitis, including eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis), contact dermatitis (irritation caused by touching something) and allergic dermatitis.
Dermatitis looks different on different people and as a result of different kinds of irritation. It can manifest as a rash, blisters, dry skin, itchy patches, or inflamed skin.
How do you manage dermatitis?
Most ways of managing dry, itchy skin involve avoiding whatever has caused your dermatitis, whether it was nickel jewellery or washing powder, and finding ways of soothing the uncomfortable symptoms while helping your skin to heal.
The front line of defence against dermatitis, whatever its cause, is the frequent application of emollients. Emollients are oils, ointments or creams that protect the top layer of skin from further damage, and lock vital moisture into the skin. The best emollients draw moisture into the skin and create a physical oil-based barrier over dry skin to protect it from irritants and from losing any more water to the air.
Problems with soap
The issue with using soap when you’ve got dermatitis - especially dermatitis on your hands - is that it can aggravate the condition, and in some cases, actually causes it.
That’s because normal household bar soap is highly alkaline, and can strip the oils from your skin, causing damage to the epidermis. It’s as if it’s working as a detergent not just to bind to dirt and grease, and wash them away with warm water, but it’s also binding to the natural oils (sebum) in your skin and washing that away too.
Add hot water (which can also affect skin) and the irritating fragrances and other additives most soap contains, and the simple task of washing your hands can be very hard on your skin.
What to use instead?
If you’re going to avoid standard soap, what can you use instead? Find a bar or a foaming wash that is:
- Free from dyes
Some soap-free bars contain extra oils to moisturise as you wash, but you can make sure your skin’s moisture levels are topped up by using an emollient after washing your hands.
Whichever cleanser you use, make sure you follow these three steps when washing:
- Wash in warm - not hot, not cold - water
- Pat (don’t rub) mostly dry with a soft, clean towel (a paper towel is deal)
- Apply a moisturiser immediately afterwards: an oil-based salve is the most effective choice
Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash
Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash is a good option for washing sensitive skin. It is free from the problematic ingredients listed above, and is fragranced by the essential oils that make up its preservation system. It uses gentle, 100% biodegradable plant-derived non-ionic surfactants which are made from soy, corn and coconut.
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.