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The Dirty Dozen: The 12 Most Common Skin Irritants

5. Heat

Hot weather, especially during summer months, can aggravate skin problems related to sweating. You might notice redness or chafing in certain areas, like the underarms, belly folds and groin, says Belsito.

6. Latex

Some people are hypersensitive to latex, a natural rubber found in everything from gloves to condoms. If you are sensitive to latex, you may experience welts under a bra strap or elastic waistband. Also, people who are allergic to latex may cross react to tropical fruits such as bananas and kiwis.

7. Fragrances

Fragrance allergies are really common, says Newburger. But there are some 5,000 fragrances that use many different combinations so it may be tricky to weed out the offending chemical. Some people might develop a skin rash or hives from musk, while others react to vanilla scents.

8. Facial Creams

Facial skin with its deep pores is very easily breached, says Newburger. That's why you should take extra care with your creams and skin care products if you experience stinging or burning when applied. These products may include wrinkle creams, cleansers, and skin peels.

Check the labels for some common irritants such as ascorbic acid, paraban preservatives, and alpha hydroxy acids such as glycolic acid, malic acid, and lactic acid.

9. Plants

Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac are three of the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis in the U.S. They all contain an oil called urushiol, which triggers an allergic reaction, typically an itchy rash.

A mild reaction might last 5 to 12 days, while a more severe reaction can last 30 days or longer. Most people don't deliberately expose themselves to poison ivy, oak, or sumac, but you need to learn how to recognize them to avoid contact.

10. Food

Food allergies can certainly cause skin reactions ranging from hives to rashes. But even handling certain foods can cause skin irritations. If you happen to have cuts or cracks on your hands, handling acidic foods or spices can be irritating.

One lesser known phenomenon is when lime on the skin reacts with sunlight and causes severe blistering burns. You'll see this in the summer months when people are mixing up margaritas with lime on the beach, says Belsito.

11. Nickel

Nickel is a common allergy. It can be found in costume jewelry, watchbands, zippers, and other everyday items. Newburger says some individuals with severe allergies even have reactions to vitamins and the hardware used to repair a limb fracture.

12. Sunscreen

Sunscreen usage is recommended to protect your skin from harmful UVA and UVB radiation, but certain chemical agents in sunscreens can cause a rash or allergic reaction. The most common allergic reactions occur with sunscreens that contain PABA-based chemicals, so you may want to find a PABA-free alternative if you develop an allergy.

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Reviewed on September 13, 2011

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