Allergic reactions to clothes

Allergic reactions to clothes are very common. Up to a few hours or few days after wearing inadequate wardrobe an allergic reaction may occur in a form of an itch, redness, dryness or bubbles in the skin.

Cotton wardrobe is made of natural fiber, soft, and most rare of all clothes to cause allergic reactions. If however an allergic reaction to cotton appears, the most common cause is formaldehyde which keeps the cotton from deteriorating and parasites. Because of this it is not recommended to wear wardrobe that hasn’t been washed previously. The amount of formaldehyde is reduced by high temperature washing. Patients allergic to formaldehyde shouldn’t wear creasing resistant clothes, and that is most often a combination of cotton and spandex (lycra). It is preferred to have clothes that can be washed at high temperatures due to the presence of mites and dust, animal hair or pollen.

Wool fibers, synthetics, nylon can cause very unpleasant reactions. The cause can often be elastin, metallic dust remnants bonded during production process, soap retention or preservatives (substances used to maintain fiber properties during storage).

Wool can be an allergen by itself but much more common is the reaction of skin to the alcohol used to process the wool – lanolin. At the same time, wool is a material which retains a high amount of dust, pollen and similar allergens. People with sensitive skin can have an unpleasant reaction to thw wool in the form of prickles or an itch but that however is not a proper allergic reaction.

Silk very rarely causes allergies. It is light, transparent and enables good body temperature regulation to the skin.

Polyester is a synthetic fiber like acrylic, nylon, spandex. It is used in stockings, skirts, underwear and often causes irritation. Irritation can be caused by the material itself or pre-additions.

Factors that increase allergic reaction to clothing items are obesity, increased sweating, tight clothes and various types of skin damage.

To examine allergic reactions to aforementioned materials, patch tests are performed, whose interpretation requires 48h from the moment of placing the tests on the skin of patients back.