Popular shampoos, conditioners and soaps are a major cause of eczema, and around 2 per cent of the whole population could be allergic to the toiletries.
The culprit seems to be the fragrance, linalool, which is used in most toiletries, washing-up liquids and household cleaners. It could be responsible for many cases of eczema, and it could also be affecting the overall health of others who are allergic to the chemical.
Researchers from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden found that between 5 and 7 per cent of the 3,000 volunteers for the study were allergic to air-oxidised linalool once it had been released from its container. Lead researcher and dermatologist Johanna Brared Christensson says that it is reasonable to assume that at least 2 per cent of all people could be allergic to linalool.
The same study also found that linalool is a major cause of eczema, and is the third major cause of the skin condition after nickel and cobalt, found in imitation jewellery.
(Source: Contact Dermatitis, 2009; 60: 32-40).