7 Household Products You’re Using That You Didn’t Realize Can Trigger Inflammation
Inflammation is a bit of a health buzzword, but understanding all the different ways inflammation affects your health is still important. Dangerous household items aren't all toxic and immediately harmful; some cause inflammation you may barely notice. Doctors, however, are well aware of what ingredients to stay away from to avoid this.
It may not surprise you that certain household items are bad for your health. This connection, however, extends all the way to things as big-picture as inflammation. "Some household products contain chemicals that cause inflammation," Nate Masterson, health expert and head of natural product development for Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. "We know that some food causes inflammation, but a lot of people overlook the fact that environmental factors can also contribute to your inflammation, including household products." Things in your bathroom, your kitchen, your laundry room, and even your bedroom, could all be causing physical reactions that you may not notice on the surface.
Here are seven household items you didn't realize can trigger inflammation, according to experts.
1. Items Containing SLS
"This is the chemical that helps your household products to lather nicely," Masterson says. "You’re likely to find it in your shampoo, soap, and other cleaning products. Sodium lauryl sulfate is linked with oxidative stress and inflammation in the body." Finding good sulfate-free products can help you avoid this response.
2. Anything With Phthalates
Phthalates are a kind of chemical that make plastic harder to break and more pliable. They aren't something to completely freak out about, but they are a bit of an inflammation risk.
"This substance is often used as a solvent in your household products such as detergents and certain personal care products," Masterson says. "In fact, research shows that a higher level of phthalate concentration is directly related to an increase in inflammation." Checking the ingredient lists of your household items may be useful.
3. Plastics Made With BPA
BPA, or bisephanol A, is an industrial chemical used to make plastics and resins. You may know about BPA from seeing "BPA-free" water bottles, but this ingredient can actually be found in a variety of household items.
"Research shows that this chemical can seep into your food or drink from the container that’s made with it," Masterson says. "There is a known relationship between BPA and inflammatory markers, so try and stay away from household products that contain this chemical." You may want to take a quick glance at the ingredients list if you're worried about BPA and inflammation.
4. Fragrances In Laundry Detergent And Dryer Sheets
Even if you aren't allergic to laundry detergents or fragrances, the chemicals inside these items can be harming your body in more subtle ways.
"Fragrances added to laundry detergents and dryer sheets are high in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and some of these VOCs have been linked to increased cancer risk," Pam Machemehl Helmly, clinical nutritionist at Wellnicity, tells Bustle. "Typical symptoms associated with VOCs include headaches, nausea, and irritation of the eyes and nasal passages." Homemade laundry detergent or fragrance-free versions of commercial brands, can prevent inflammatory response.
5. Dusting Polish
Dusting polishes and sprays can be full of harmful ingredients that can cause inflammatory responses on your skin and elsewhere.
"Regular dusting polish contains a list of ingredients that have scored poorly on the Environmental Working Group’s product ingredient scores," Machemehl Helmly says. "Ingredients of dusting polish include petroleum gases, mineral oil and methylchloroisothiazolinaone. These ingredients may pose a greater cancer risk and also may contribute to hormone disruption." If you have asthma or skin allergies, Machemehl Helmly says, the risk is even higher. Homemade dusting polish or a more health-conscious brand may help you prevent an inflammatory response.
6. Air Fresheners And Air Cleaners
Allergy induced inflammation can happen after repeated exposure to allergens. If you have a slight allergy to air fresheners or air cleaners, this response could build up.
"Airborne allergens, such as air fresheners [...] are a huge trigger of allergy-induced inflammation," Susan Bard, MD, of Manhattan Dermatology Specialists, tells Bustle. "This can manifest locally on the skin as a rash or it can produce respiratory symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, sneezing and congestion, as well as itchy, swollen, watery eyes." Since chronic exposure can be dangerous, paying attention to these symptoms and talking to your doctor about them is important.
You may not realize that chlorine isn't only in swimming pools. Certain cleaning agents and disinfectants use chlorine, even in bathroom and kitchens.
"Chlorinated water may kill off pathogens, but it can also kill of the beneficial bacteria that help to keep us healthy," Machemehl Helmly says. Natural disinfectants, such as the Seventh Generation brand, may be safer. Gut inflammation is no joke.
The inflammation that can be caused by household products is often not serious, but switching to natural cleaning products isn't that difficult of a change to help protect your health. Whether you want to minimize your allergic reactions, protect the environment, or simply reduce the risk of long-term issues, being more aware of what is inside of the things you use around the house is generally a good thing.