What is Spandex Allergy?


Spandex, also known as Lycra, is a synthetic fiber. Spandex can cause allergy, resulting in rashes, redness, itchiness and hives. The chemicals used in the processing of spandex are responsible for allergies. If an individual has spandex allergy, he/she should avoid spandex fabrics and switch to natural fabrics such as cotton.

Spandex is used in sock tops, bathing suits, lingerie straps and other elastic clothing. However, usually no clothing is made from 100 percent spandex.

Spandex allergy can result in redness, itchiness, hives and rashes. In severe cases, the skin can also break out in blisters.

What causes Spandex Allergy?
Spandex is made by processing chemical agents. These chemical agents are responsible for irritating the skin and causing allergies. Here are some of the chemicals present in spandex which can result in an allergy:

MDI: MDI is used in the manufacturing of spandex. It can irritate the skin and result in rashes and redness
TDI: TDI is another chemical which is used in the making of spandex and it can cause allergy
Manufacturers have to ensure that there is no residual and unreacted TDI or MDI. This can prevent an allergic reaction.

How to Prevent Spandex Allergy?

Switch to natural fibers such as cotton. You can also choose 100% cotton products
Avoid synthetic fibers as they are more likely to cause allergy
Be careful with clothing containing elastic as they may contain spandex
If you suspect you have an allergy to spandex, try eliminating spandex containing products. If your allergy subsides, avoid spandex products.

If you experience spandex allergy, do consult your allergist. You would be prescribed topical corticosteroids or antihistamines for treating the reaction.


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  • Mikee Mercader
Comments 18
  • Carolyn Pruitt
    Carolyn Pruitt

    I am realizing that a rash that develops on my ankles and lower leg is from when I wear hose which I am assuming contains spandex or elastic of some kind. Also, I think I am allergic to black dye in my casual pants which cause the same rash. I wonder if there are any hose that I will be able to wear.

  • Bonnie MC lafferty
    Bonnie MC lafferty

    After suffering a blistreing spandex latex allergy to those contents in my t shirt bra, I was considering a 100% cotten bra from Cottenique but it says elastic for comfort. why do they use elastic? I do non want an encore reaction. Did not order because of that

  • Robin

    I buy cotton tankinis for swimming at Decent Exposures.

  • George

    I think I’m allergic to bicycling shorts, bought 2 pairs of Castelli shorts. My thighs and quads broke out in a rash and hives. It has 19% Elastane, could this be the cause? Thanks.

  • Deena Erni
    Deena Erni

    After a year I have just found out that I have a Lycra allergy. It has gone on so long that just a few weeks ago I started having oozing blisters. Complicating the matter and key to-my”investigation is that I am a CPAP user and first started noticing how itchy my scalp was where the CPAP headgear touched my skin. I complained to several of the doctors I visited. They all said it wasn’t that because it wasn’t on my face. So now one year later, I called the CPAP company and asked what the components of manufacture were when they told me Lycra, nylon and a poly foam, I followed the path and here I am. I should have done my own research in the beginning. My problem now is how to fix the bra fastening. That’s where my itchiness is extreme. Bras are labeled 100% cotton—except at the fasteners at on my back.

  • barbara

    Is it possible to develop a sensitivity to spandex? it seems all of a sudden most everything i wear itches. like picking me as if i was wearing wool. very annoying.

  • John Matthew
    John Matthew

    Lycra is a synthetic fiber which is not bearable for everyone specially for those who has sensitive skin.

  • american

    Those synthetic fibers, when exposed to bleach, especially oxygen bleach, in detergent or in bleach product, break down and the affected pieces and fibers cause allergies or irritation in some people, and some more than others. The little pieces get loose and also get into both the washing machine where they can come out later and cause problems, and into other clothing. It’s likely that ozone in the dryer, exposure to UV light and oxygen over time, as well as to heat, do the same thing. I am beginning to understand, too, that men’s briefs have the same problem; there’s an actual rubber band in many parts of briefs. I just learned a couple new short sleeve shirts now are no longer 100% cotton, but have spandex in them. I suspect they never were actually 100% cotton in the past, and that even jeans that are supposed to be probably never were.

  • american

    I think the solution, as far as socks goes, is to get a sewing machine, find some true all-cotton, non-GMO, organic, unbleached cloth, and make crude socks out of whole cloth. Problem solved. I plan to do that, and to even try to fashion some sort of cloth shape that will work as a sock, no sewing involved except maybe hemming. To experiment in cutting a piece the right shape to just fold the foot up in it and stick it in the boot or shoe. The dream would be to find an old sock-making machine and similar cotton textile thread as mentioned above, and just make a living producing harmless socks. A person could easily sell all they produced, and this at decent not-gouging not-even-high price. Imagine a few of those machines, and a robot to take care of them around-the-clock, to boot.

  • american

    I know a co-worker who went through nine doctors before he found one who identified his foot skin problem as due to synthetic materials in his socks. I relate, very much. There seems to be a conspiracy by major retailers right now, trying to herd people into buying 8 dollar a pair diabetic socks with less synthetic material, and to sell more drugs for treating foot skin problems. When they put latex or natural rubber in a sock, you know they are out to cause a health problem in a high percentage of people. The textile industry are liars because they don’t understand the meaning of 100% cotton. They’ve regulated that to mean things like “100% cotton fabric”, then right under it “90% cotton, 10% olefin”, and you can hardly find pure cotton fabric. The retailers have the sock manufacturers putting just about as many different fibers as they can to catch as many people as possible with an allergy. Real cotton socks, all cotton, in the true meaning of 100%, used to be available, but not any more. They don’t last long, but they didn’t cause terrible skin problems. I believe that when an allergen is constantly irritating a foot, is when fungus can just move right in and take up residence. This is an industry-caused problem.

  • MrsS Watkins
    MrsS Watkins

    Looking for cotton swimwear

  • Anita Philbrick
    Anita Philbrick

    Be careful with Elasthanne also—it is just another word for Spandex and I am just on fire.

  • Ruth Hurley
    Ruth Hurley

    I have swelling in my ankles and have worn support hose off and on for the past five years. I always wore them when traveling on airplanes or sightseeing. Last month I developed a terrible rash and welts on my right leg and some on my left leg. After researching the materials used to make the stockings I realized I had an allergic reaction to the spandex. Now I don’t know how to handle traveling by plane or long hours of sightseeing.

  • Jane Nelms
    Jane Nelms

    I am allergic to wool, but thought I was buying nice soft clothing only to find out that it irritated my skin. Thinking that my clothing was pure cotton come to find out it has spandex, or polyester. It’s hard to find pure cotton any more. Looks like goodwill is going to receive most of my wardrobe !

  • Catharine Wallace
    Catharine Wallace

    It would be nice to find clothing with more natural fibres eg. Cotton, but where? Most manufacturers are putting more and more spandex/lycra in our clothing. Too hot in summer! Too cold in winter! Not climate clontrolled! Let alone all the chemicals that goes into making these toxic man-made fabrics. The manufacturers and clothing industries jusst don’t get it! I guess they have suffered with allergies/skin irratations. All they seem to think about is the cheaper to make, the more profits they receive! Wrong!!

  • jimmie montoya
    jimmie montoya

    i have purchased several itemswith 3% and 7 %spandex it took just a few weeks until i was itching not knowing what ws causing it i was prescribed a med for Yeast Infection, wrong it only got worse, it took 3 weeks of agonising ittching, blisters, burning to finally find out it is an allergy to Spandex, from now own i am an all cotton girl

  • Taffy

    We need to get educated!
    Our world is full of toxins!
    I usually always try to buy cotton clothing.
    I bought several pieces of yoga clothing this winter made from nylon and spandex, they seemed comfortable and warm, but I’m itching with hives, like crazy.
    Would have been better off buying only 2 pieces of made cotton or silk items for the same price and spared myself the suffering.

  • Christine Rallis
    Christine Rallis

    Wouldn’t it be nice if there allergy warnings were required on labels. I’m soooo itchy !

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