Cosmetics and toiletries may contain preservatives responsible for a rise in skin irritations.
At least two chemicals found in shower gels, deodorants, hand lotions and washing up liquids are thought to be behind a rise in eczema.
The chemicals are also known to cause facial swelling, itching, hives and redness.
Dr John McFadden, consultant dermatologist at St Thomas’ Hospital told the Daily Mail: “We are in the midst of an outbreak of allergy which we have not seen before in terms of scale in our lifetime.
‘Many of our patients have suffered acute dermatitis with redness and swelling of the face.”
The British Society of Cutaneous Allergy wants ‘immediate action’ to protect people against commonly used chemicals methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI) and methylisothiazolinone (MI).
Skin researchers say the chemicals can cause itching, hives and redness. Researchers from Leeds Centre for Dermatology discovered a sharp rise of 6.2 per cent in sensitivity in contact allergy to the ingredients over the past three years.