4 Facts about Textile Contact Dermatitis
Textile contact dermatitis or clothing dermatitis is described as skin manifestations or an irritation which is caused by wearing clothing or fabrics that come in contact with the skin. The source of this particular problem may be the cloth material used which results as a reaction to textile fibers. This type of contact allergy is caused by chemical additives that are normally used in processing the cloth or fabric. The most common chemical additives can be found in finishing agents as well as in textile dyes.
Causes of Clothing Dermatitis
The usual causes of clothing dermatitis include natural fibers such as cotton, silk, linen and wool while textile fiber can be synthetic, natural and in some cases a combination of both. Synthetic fibers include nylon, rubber, rayon, polyester, spandex and fiberglass. Studies have shown that all kinds of fibers can cause allergic contact dermatitis but it is a rare occurrence for all fibers to be the main cause of the condition.
This type of skin condition happens when your skin reacts to a specific substance which can either be an irritant or an allergen. Irritants are substances which damage the skin while allergens are substances that can result to abnormal reactions in the body. Being allergic to clothing is usually acquired through dyes, glues, formaldehyde finishing resins, tanning agents as well as chemical additives. Allergies can also be developed over time due to common exposure; for example, a nurse who has to use latex gloves almost everyday can develop a severe allergy to latex.
Other causes include the following:
- Para-phenylenediamine or PPD which is used in fur dyes and textiles
- Flame retardants
- Rubber accelerators, latex, chrome or cobalt that are incorporated in clothing
- Metallic stud fasteners or elastic in clothing
- Soaps or detergents
Symptoms of Clothing Dermatitis
The most common symptoms of textile contact dermatitis include itchiness, redness and scaling. These symptoms most commonly appear within hours after contact with the allergen; however, there are also cases wherein the symptoms will only appear after a few days.
The areas of the body that are usually affected by textile contact dermatitis include the popliteal fossa or popliteal (back of the knee), buttocks, armpits, groin area, crooks of the arm and in areas which are in close contact with clothes. Symptoms of this skin irritation will worsen if there is constant rubbing within the affected area and when the environment is humid or hot. There are also few cases which involve bacterial or yeast organism infections.
Common Contact Dermatitis Cases
This type of skin irritation is actually more common in women than in men. There are a few reasons why this condition will usually affect women, one of which is their choice of clothing. People who have sensitive skin or atopic dermatitis are also more susceptible to this.
The best way to determine if you are suffering from this condition is to go through an allergy test such as patch tests in order for the attending physician to properly asses your situation.
Treatment and Prevention of Contact Dermatitis
If you experience the first signs of textile contact dermatitis, then it is best to remove your clothing right away. You may also need to purchase medicinal treatment such as over the counter ointments and creams that contain mild topical steroids like hydrocortisone 0.5-2.5% (a doctor's consultation will be necessary for this). These creams and ointments can provide temporary relief and can also help control redness, itching and swelling. In cases that are more severe, oral antibiotics or prescription steroid cream may also be prescribed by physicians.
The best way to prevent clothing dermatitis is to check the labels or tags of clothes before buying them. Go for natural cloth or fabrics to lessen the possibility of irritants. If you are unfamiliar with their fabric materials, then take the time to research online or just ask the store clerk for assistance. Another way to avoid clothing dermatitis is to wear natural fabrics with little or no dyes. You must also always wear proper clothing and avoid skimpy clothes, especially when you are residing in humid or hot environments. Lastly, it is also very important to properly wash your clothes so they will be free from any remnants of soaps or detergents.
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