Deodorants and antiperspirants are the most common cause of allergic reaction out of all cosmetics. They contain various chemicals that are linked to skin irritation and illnesses, yet many people are unaware of the risks. The majority of people use deodorant as part of their normal hygiene regime, but some struggle to find one that doesn’t irritate their skin, or they choose not to use conventional sprays and roll-ons, believing they could be putting their health at risk.

Common Causes Of Allergens In Antiperspirants

The active ingredient in most conventional deodorants is an aluminum-based compound that acts as a temporary plug in sweat ducts to prevent perspiration. This aluminum has been linked to causing contact dermatitis, a type of allergic reaction. The perfumes used in deodorants are another main ingredient that people are allergic to. Around 90% of deodorants contain perfumes and 4% of all people are allergic to them, making it very difficult for someone with an allergy to find a perfume-free deodorant. Other ingredients to be aware of include propylene glycol, an ‘carrier’ for active ingredients, parabens, lanolin and vitamin E, used as a moisturizer and antioxidant.

Treating Allergic Reactions

Contact dermatitis is the most common allergic reaction to deodorant, which will usually present in the area the deodorant has been applied, such as the underarm. It’s an itchy, bumpy and red rash that may blister, ooze, peel or flake. The main thing you can do to treat it is to stop applying the allergen. Ideally, you shouldn’t switch to a different deodorant until the skin has healed and calmed down and you may need topical corticosteroids. Patch tests can be done to identify what chemical has caused the reaction so that you know what to avoid in the future. Allergies can occur after years of using the same product, so you may be surprised that you’ve developed a reaction to your usual deodorant.

Skin Absorbing Chemicals

Allergic reactions are from the deodorant sitting on the skin, but some studies have found that the skin could be absorbing the chemicals too, leading to an increased risk of diseases. You apply products, like moisturizers, to your skin, so it makes sense to expect the skin to absorb other products that you put on it too. Ingredients linked to various illnesses include aluminum, parabens, propylene glycol, phthalates and triclosan, linked to conditions from central nervous system damage and early onset of puberty to Alzheimer’s and hormone-related cancers. Triclosan has even been classified as a probable carcinogen and is used as a pesticide, illustrating its threat to human health.

Switching To A Gentle Deodorant

While the majority of deodorants have the potential to cause allergic reactions and skin irritation, you can find ones that will be kinder to your skin. These will usually be fragrance-free and are often roll-ons instead of sprays. You can also get powdered and solid deodorants that are made with natural ingredients that can benefit the skin, such as essential oils for moisturizing and powdered herbs. Natural deodorants and allergen-friendly ones are more likely to be safer to use for those who are worried about the associated health risks as the chemicals that cause the allergic reactions and conditions are the same.

The risks associated with deodorants and antiperspirants aren’t as well-known as they should be considering the extent of them. Even if you’re not allergic to one of the ingredients, they could still be harming you and everyone should have the information available to them to make an informed decision.