Surfactant-induced irritant reactions may be elicited by several endogenous and exogenous factors. Among these, surfactant concentration, and duration and frequency of exposure play important rotes. The study focuses on the influence of water temperature in determining damage of the skin barrier. 10 subjects of both sexes entered the study. 4 areas (4×4 cm2) were randomly selected on the volar forearm and were treated with a daily open application of 5% sodium lauryl sulphate for 4 days. The solutions were at 3 temperatures: 4®, 20® and 40 ®C. One site served as untreated control. On the 5th day, skin irritation was evaluated using transepidermal water loss (TEWL) measurements, erythema (a* value), skin reflectance (L* value), hydration (capacitance) and desquamation (stripping). The results show a significant effect of the solution's temperature in determining skin irritation (P < 0.001), Skin damage was higher in sites treated with warmer temperatures and a highly significant correlation (P < 0.001) between irritation and temperature was found. In conclusion, the study shows that water temperature during washing has an important effect on the onset of irritant contact dermatitis.