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Detergents

  • Lilla Landeck
  • Lynn A. Baden
  • Swen-Malte John
Living reference work entry

Abstract

Household, personal, and industrial products contain detergents which play an important role in everyday life.

The term “detergency” is used to describe the process of cleaning by a surface-active agent (surfactant).

The most important ingredients of detergents are surfactants which display surface-tension-lowering properties so water can expand to wet surface, increasing washing effectiveness. Chemically, surfactants are amphiphilic molecules with a lipophilic tail and a hydrophilic head. They are categorized into four primary groups according to the charge present in the hydrophilic head: anionic, cationic, amphoteric, and nonionic. In the current market of cleaners and cleansers, anionic surfactants are the most common ones.

Surfactants may be irritating to the skin. The order of irritant potential of surfactants is the following: cationic = anionic > amphoteric > nonionic; however, mixtures of surfactants may elicit unexpected reactions.

Considering the widespread use and applications of household and personal detergents, the frequency of side effects to the skin is relatively low in an occupational as well in a personal exposure.

Keywords

Detergent Soap Synthetic surfactant Personal cleansing Skin related side effects of detergents 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lilla Landeck
    • 1
  • Lynn A. Baden
    • 2
  • Swen-Malte John
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Dermatology, Ernst von Bergmann General Hospital, Teaching Hospital of the CharitéUniversity Medicine BerlinPotsdamFederal Republic of Germany
  2. 2.Centre Dermatology and Aesthetic MedicineNewtonUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Health Research and Education, Department of Dermatology, Environmental Medicine and Health TheoryUniversity of OsnabrueckOsnabrückGermany

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