Itchy skin reaction to fabric softener

Updated November 21, 2016

You wash your clothes with detergent to clean them. If you also use fabric softener as part of your laundry regimen, you could add chemicals to the clothes that can cause an itchy skin reaction called contact dermatitis.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis occurs when an irritating substance come in contact with your skin, irritating the tissue. It can occur when fabric softener left on clothes fresh from the wash comes in direct contact with the skin, states Clinical Allergy: Diagnosis and Management.


Symptoms of contact dermatitis triggered by fabric softener include red, itchy areas of skin called hives. The skin might also be swollen, says The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.


If you experience an itchy skin reaction to fabric softener, the best treatment is avoiding contact with that softener in the future. For immediate relief from hives caused by contact dermatitis, taking an antihistamine can help. Washing your skin in cool water with gentle soap can also soothe your irritated skin.

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