Bleach allergy & rash

bottles of cleaning product. bleach. disinfectant. image by L. Shat from

Bleach is an allergen contained in many household cleaning products. As with many cleaning products, bleach can cause an allergy that produces a rash or rash-like symptoms. This allergy, however, can be avoided and treated, and there are also alternatives to bleach.


Bleach is a chemical that will alter the chemical bonds of an item in a way so that it absorbs less visible light or none at all. Bleaches come in many different packages. Sodium hypochlorite, lemon juice and sulphur dioxide are all examples of bleaches. Bleach is used in many ways: to clean clothing; to disinfect and kill germs and bacteria; and to lighten the colour of hair, teeth, skin and food. An example of an everyday item made possible by bleach is white paper.

Allergy and Rash

Bleach is one of the most common allergies found in homes all over the world. An allergy is a reaction the human body has to foreign proteins. The reaction causes histamines to be released. Commonly, a bleach allergy will cause swelling, inflammation and redness at the site of contact. Painful itching may also occur. Scratching the itch will make the pain and allergic reaction worse. The cause of bleach allergies is unknown but it is suspected that frequent exposure to bleach may be the culprit. Those in the housekeeping and laundering industry, and homemakers are at high risk for bleach allergy.


Preventing an allergic reaction to bleach is the best solution to the problem. The best way to do so is to stay away from any bleaches. This means keeping away from most common household cleaners and detergents. There are also options for those affected by a bleach allergy. Cooling lotions, such as those used for poison ivy, can help combat the reaction, and ice packs may help as well. If the reaction is severe, one should seek professional medical attention and may be prescribed a steroid to reduce inflammation.


Those with an allergy to bleach should avoid certain chemicals. Chlorine is a popular additive in many household cleaners. Chlorine is a lung and eye irritant, and can cause toxic fumes when mixed with ammonia or acid-based cleaners. Phosphates are minerals that act as water softeners and are frequently contained in automatic dishwasher detergents. Alkylphenols are found in some laundry detergents, disinfecting cleaners, all-purpose cleaners, spot removers, hair colours and hair-care products, and spermicides. These chemicals may trigger a bleach allergy.


A less volatile alternative to harsh bleaches is available and can be made at home. The ingredients are 12 cups of water, 1/4 cup of lemon juice and 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide. Mix the ingredients together. As a washing powder, 2 cups should be added to every wash load. Use it in a spray bottle as a household cleaner. Not only is this recipe less-toxic, it's also cheap and environmentally friendly.