View Full Version : Anyone else allergic to soaps and shampoos?

09-24-2007, 08:17 PM
My allergies started about 6 years ago. I became allergic to latex gloves. Then it was antibacterial handsoap, detergents, lotions, shower gel, the lather strip on razors, shaving cream, etc. Now I'm allergic to shampoo. I could tolerate the other things - I now use Dove or Ivory soap, vinyl gloves, fragrance free detergent, etc.

Now I have to give up good smelling shampoos? Aye, aye, aye. I've used a fragrance free- lather free type shampoo before but it's just no fun! I was wondering if anyone knows of any good hypo- allergenic shampoos that might smell nice.

ETA - It's my fingers and hands that break out from the shampoo.

09-25-2007, 07:02 AM
Sorry to hear you are having so much trouble. My DD has the same problem with soaps. Unfortunately I can't help too much with shampoo; she is only 7 and has long, thick hair so usually I still wash it for her. I use Aveda shampoo for her, though, and on the occasions she washes her own hair she hasn't had any problems, so maybe that is an option? It smells good. I know my SIL uses Arbonne products on my nephew who also has a lot of skin problems, but I'm not sure if they make shampoos.

There is someone else on the boards who also has handsoap allergies - I think it is Robyn1007. Maybe she has some helpful suggestions.

09-25-2007, 07:22 AM
Do you think it's the fragrance causing you a problem, or the petroleum-based "stuff" that ends up in those products? I'm wondering if trying an all natural, plant-based product would work? For instance, a lot of the Lush shampoos are plant-based (maybe all of them). And truly, a shopping trip to Lush is no punishment--except maybe to your bank account! :o

I've been moving toward a lot of chemical free and cruelty free products, and I'm finding that I don't get the skin irritations and dryness I got with more traditional products. For instance, I just got 7th Generation dish soap, and I can wash dishes all day (which I have PROVEN) without my hands drying out. FWIW, I can't use most public-restroom soaps. My hands get so dry that they hurt, and it only takes a couple of minutes after washing.

PETA has a list of cruelty-free products (http://www.peta2.com/STUFF/s-cf.asp), which also means mostly plant-based products. While I'm not a huge fan of PETA and disapprove of their tactics, the list is a starting point for me as I try to make healthier choices for everything I bring into my home. It might be worth a look.

09-25-2007, 07:22 AM
Have you done any research to try to figure out exactly what ingredient(s) you are allergic to in the shampoo? I am guessing that it is probably one or two different additives.

I had to figure this out with some OTC medications I was taking. I was getting hives with almost everything--ibuprofen, tylenol, iron supplements. I knew, after awhile, that I couldn't be allergic to all of those things. I created an EXCEL spreadsheet and put in all the inactive ingredients in each product. After awhile the "culprit" stood out. Now I can take all of these medications if I can find a formulation that does not contain the offending additive.

I realize that with shampoo this will be very difficult because they have TONS of ingredients in them. But it might be worth your while. Find 2-3 brands that you really react to. Then find a brand that you do not react to. Put all the ingredients and see where the difference is. If you are lucky, some offenders will stand out. Then you can just search for a product that doesn't contain those things.

09-25-2007, 07:27 AM
Hi Jessnc, This sounds very challenging, indeed. Have you talked with your doctor? There are many cross-sensitivities to latex proteins, and I wonder if you are impacted by this. My sense is there may be ways to treat this a bit and also products that your doctor may recommend that are not necessarily found in traditional retail stores.

Although I don't have allergies, I have very fair, sensitive skin, and I purchase many of the products that I use from my dermatologist. Best wishes, Kim

09-25-2007, 08:12 AM
I have eczema and I am currently in denial about some sort of shampoo/soap allergy:o I use Aveda shampoo and conditioner, and I just can't face the fact that I may suddenly be allergic to it and that is what is causing the recent horrible breakout on my hands. But I've stopped using almost everything else that could be the problem and it still hasn't gotten better. Dove soap is what I've used forever, and I use their hand soap in the kitchen. The other thing that might be causing my current problems is the Dove body wash that I use at the gym. I'm going to avoid that this week and see if it gets better.

Sorry - I don't have any great recommendations. For me it's just a process of trial and error to find out what I'm allergic to. Like the old soap that they had in the restroom at work didn't bother me, but they switched to a foam a couple of months ago and that makes me itch. Elidel is my best friend some nights.

09-25-2007, 08:33 AM
I haven't read all the details of the responses but wanted to post a couple of ideas. Since my allergies are pretty sporadic and really just cause dryness/itching I haven't gone to the lengths of having an allergist look into it except that a couple of years ago I had some allergic reactions in my hands. Here's a thread (http://community.cookinglight.com/showthread.php?t=64117&highlight=itch+hand%2A) where I posted about it and I went to an allergist then. We never could figure out what was causing it so I carried an epi-pen and benedryl every where I went but since I haven't had those reactions in awhile who knows.

I haven't had shampoo reactions but I recently started using Whole Foods 365 brand biodegradeable shampoo in Lavender scent and noticed they also have an unscented version. It might be worth a try and then you could compare the ingredients in one you've reacted to and this one if you don't react and at least narrow down the possibilities. It was ridiculously cheap as well.

Good luck, I know how frustrating it can be!

09-25-2007, 03:43 PM
Arbonne does sell hair care products. I don't use them but did do a search.
I never really thought about looking for hypo allergenic detergents, shampoos etc. I do try and find things that are hypo-allergenic to clean my face as I do have an occasional problem with different products. I'll go do another search.

09-25-2007, 03:57 PM
Since I hit 40, I have become sensitive to many products.
It could be that I developed pollen allergies and my immune system is on hyper-alert or it could be that my skin is drying out more and so there is less protection from the elements.

I use trial and error because I can be using something with no problems and then one day...ACK. Eye cream was like that for me. When my eye area looked like I had 3rd degree burns, my derm. said it was allergies. I discovered the culprit and I had actually used it for over a year!

Even if I spray perfume, the alcohol/fragrance gives me a big, red welt that fades over the day. :(

I don't suppose my 5 cats (I have cat allergies) are helping this condition at all.

09-25-2007, 04:02 PM
While doing a search on this I seen so many products that I have never even heard of and would never be able to find myself so I am not going to suggest any products but did think of asking if you have talked to a pharmacist at your drug store? They may be able to help in recommending a product to try. I also noticed Kim mentioned your doctor which wouldn't be a bad idea either as they could probably give you a lsit of products to use, or even a dermatologist.

09-26-2007, 05:43 AM
Thanks for all the suggestions everyone! I think the first thing I'll try is the Aveda shampoo that clairea reccommended only because I can just go to the grocery store and pick it up.

I have been to a holistic doctor before and that helped significantly with some of my allergies, but it is very, very expensive.

I have great medication that my dermatologist prescribed a while back. I don't have a derm doc down here yet. Within the next couple months or so I hope to be going...

ChristineVA - that spreadsheet idea is fantastic. As soon as I'm feeling patient I should do that :) It would be beneficial to me to know what triggers my eczema.

Food is a big trigger for me too. If any kind of food juice touches my hand I'll start to break out. I was eating a Wendy's chicken sandwich the other night and I got itchy from the juice that dripped onto my hand. Ugh - it's so frustrating sometimes. I always have to wear gloves when handling food.

I'll have to look into Arbonne as well. Thanks again everyone!

09-26-2007, 06:22 AM
Hi Jessnc,

Here are a couple of links that touch on the subject of cross sensitivities and allergy to latex proteins...I share this not to alarm, but to inform. If any of the products you are using have an extract of one of these food items and even though it is all "natural," you run the risk of making a bad situation worse...Allergy to latex proteins can be very serious...even life threatening.

Best wishes, Kim



09-26-2007, 01:05 PM
I have very mild soap/shampoo sensitivities compared to what you and others have described. I just thought I should warn you that one of the worst rashes I've ever had from soap was from a free sample of Arbonne body wash I received at a party. I use Aveda's Rosemary Mint shampoo and love it. I hope you're able to find something that works for you!

09-28-2007, 10:36 AM
I can only use Dove soap - the plain white bar. I am allergic to all other soaps. I do not have a problem with shampoos, but I do need to shampoo first, then wash my body! I am allergic to so many products, makeups, lotions, laundry detergents, and on and on.....Good luck, Debralynn

09-28-2007, 06:00 PM
I am anaphlactic to latex. I also have a few crossover food allergies because of my latex allergy--hazelnuts, bananas, apples, and oranges!

I am allergic to the sodium laurel sulfate in soaps and shampoos. I use Aveda which is available at Aveda salons. (they sell it in small sample sizes to try it out) Beware of their products because many do have fruit extracts.

I use Avalon Organics lavender hand soap. I find it at Trader Joes.

I hope you can find products that work for you, JessNC. Wendys has started putting MSG in some of their chicken products, so that might explain your reaction. I don't think it's in their 99 cent chicken nuggets, but I've had bad reactions to their chicken strips and crispy homestyle chicken sandwich.

09-29-2007, 02:33 PM
I hope you can find products that work for you, JessNC. Wendys has started putting MSG in some of their chicken products, so that might explain your reaction. I don't think it's in their 99 cent chicken nuggets, but I've had bad reactions to their chicken strips and crispy homestyle chicken sandwich.

Ew MSG! How unnecessary. I'm pretty sure my reaction was to juice from the tomato on the sandwich. But it's good to know about the MSG thing.

I accidentally read Aveda as Aveeno... duh - no wonder I couldn't find it at Walmart! I'll check out their website because I don't think there are any Aveda stores remotely close to where I am.

Now for a brief rant..... I bring my own soap to work (Dove) and use my own soap dish to keep it in. I leave it at work, obviously. I use soap til it can't be used anymore. Just because it is smaller than it once was doesn't mean that it doesn't clean. My soap bar recently broke in half but it still worked just fine - it wasn't teeny tiny or anything. I went to the restroom the other day and someone had thrown my soap away! I was so steaming mad. I can't not wash my hands and my only other option was to use the liquid soap that turns my fingers into an itchy, oozy, terribly uncomfortable mess. I know who cleaned the bathroom and I have to ask her not to throw my soap away again. If she had the problem I have she wouldn't have considered throwing it away. Grrrrr.

09-30-2007, 01:52 AM
I'm from Raleigh but moved away after I got married.

Cary has a Trader Joes--which I'm sure you've heard us talk about on here. They have a ton of organic hygenic products that aren't expensive. I buy my handsoap in a bottle there--less than $3, the same product is $6 at a local big box grocer. They also have a good, cheap shampoo and conditioner that are lavender, but if you have colored hair, like me, it will totally strip the color right out.

My favorite product is their SHAVE shaving cream for women. It's about $2.50 for a huge tube and is sooo thick and creamy. Your legs will feel soo soft. I stock up on the tubes when they are in stock because it's so popular sometimes they sell out. I keep 3 bottles in my bathroom. Trader Joes also has cheap nuts, vinegars and oils.

Cary will also have an Aveda if you want to try their products as well. The mall might have an Aveda store.

10-01-2007, 08:31 PM
My kids and I get excema, and use as many fragrance free products as we can. We all get flare ups if we use regular perfumed soaps.

We like Eucerin Gentle Foaming Cleanser for our body soap, and use Eucerin Aquaphor and Eucerin moisturizers, including one with spf30 for a non-sport sunscreen. These are available at a good price on Drugstore.com

I have also purchased some liquid hand soap from vermont(which was great, but dried into a glob at the end, and would cause nasty squirts on your shirt and face- but the first time my cracked fingertips healed), and a sport sunscreen called Vanicream from this local allergy product store called Aller-G. Here is there website for online purchases:

Aveeno has also been a good product line for us IF it is one of there less scented varieties like the baby sunscreen.

Dove sensitive was recommended by our pediartrician, but it has too much fragrance for my taste, and we want no fragrance.

Cetaphil and the no-name versions at drugstores are also good choices for us.

We use all free and clear deterg. (He), and used to use an unscented He detergent from Sears, usually online purchased.

We use 7th gen. dish soap too.

Shampoo is a toughie, we have used a shampoo from Aller-G but it didn't foam nice, so that is the one fragranced product we use...probably not a great idea!

We love perfume, and use it sparingly on special occasions sprayed on our clothes not our skin.

I also used to use ivory pump soap and dishwashing soap, but it is pretty harsh as compared to my currently used soaps.

I hope some of this helps.