We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is an Irritant?

Niki Acker
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

In biology, an irritant is anything that causes irritation such as inflammation or pain. This may be chemical in nature, but it can also be mechanical, thermal, or radiative. Chemicals like the capsaicin in hot peppers, rough fabrics, friction, heat or coldness, and ultraviolet (UV) radiation are all examples of irritants. Irritants commonly affect the skin, eyes, or mucous membranes.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) defines an irritant as having a temporary and local effect. Contact with irritants can sometimes be avoided by wearing protective gear such as goggles or gloves, and the first line of treatment against irritants is typically flushing the affected area with water. If irritation persists, a doctor should be consulted. Though irritation is a temporary problem, some irritants can cause more long-term damage.

Irritants are not the same as allergens, though the two may overlap. Allergens cause an immune response, while irritants cause irritation through abrasion or by removing moisture from the affected area. The effects of irritants are limited, at least initially, to the area in direct contact with them, while an allergen can have more widespread or systemic effects. Finally, a certain amount of an irritant is required to have an effect, while allergens can typically cause a reaction in much smaller amounts.

One possible effect of contact with irritants is a condition such as eczema or irritant contact dermatitis (ICD), which affects the skin. Symptoms can include redness, rash, blisters, itching, swelling, dryness, and scaling. Many different factors contribute to the severity and duration of irritant contact eczema. These include the duration and frequency of contact with the irritant, the irritant's strength and amount, the sensitivity of the sufferer's skin, and environmental factors.

ICD can affect anyone, though those with atopic dermatitis and those who frequently handle irritants as part of their job are most susceptible. Young children can develop ICD around the mouth from dribbling or licking their lips frequently. Also, many people develop the condition in the winter as a result of cold, dry air.

When allergy is ruled out, ICD can be treated with compresses, emollient creams, and sometimes topical steroids or antibiotics for secondary infections. The patient should avoid contact with the irritant whenever possible, and should keep the affected area clean and moisturized. The skin can develop tolerance to some irritants over time.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Niki Acker
By Niki Acker , Writer
"In addition to her role as a The Health Board editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range of interesting and unusual topics to gather ideas for her own articles. A graduate of UCLA with a double major in Linguistics and Anthropology, Niki's diverse academic background and curiosity make her well-suited to create engaging content for WiseGeekreaders. "

Discussion Comments

Niki Acker

Niki Acker

Writer

"In addition to her role as a The Health Board editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range...
Learn more
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.