Some mothers develop contact dermatitis in their breasts during the early weeks of breastfeeding as their bodies adapt to frequent contact with a baby’s mouth. Oftentimes, women use pumping bras that can be detrimental to their skin without them knowing. But these hardships do not necessarily mean a mother has to stop breastfeeding.
Clothing allergy or textile contact dermatitis is common for many. However, the cause of such skin condition is not actually brought about by the clothes we wear but rather due to the materials and substances embedded within the textile. There are also other possible reasons why individuals suffer allergies from clothes.
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.
Here at Cottonique, you can definitely be safe from textile contact dermatitis through our selection of allergy free clothing. Browse through our products here!
Allergic reactions or dermatological problems due to certain types of clothing are actually a common concern. However, many may misdiagnose their skin problems and will not think that the cause can actually be found in their clothes. These mysterious rashes and itches in the body can be very annoying so it is very important to properly pinpoint the cause in order to resolve it.
The allergic reaction caused by clothes usually results in a skin inflammation which is otherwise known as textile contact dermatitis. Other symptoms include rashes, prickly skin, visible redness, itchiness and scaling just to name a few. Some of the symptoms may manifest just within a few hours after contact while there are also instances wherein the reaction may appear after a few days or so.
The usual areas of the body which are normally affected include the backs of the knees, buttocks, groin area, armpits or at the crooks of each arm. Dermatitis or skin irritation may even worsen when there is constant rubbing by the fabric or when the wearer sweats a lot due to hot or humid environments.
5 Clothing Allergens
Formaldehyde is used to prevent cotton fiber from being attacked by parasites. It is also added to strengthen the cotton material against deterioration. This resin is actually quite important especially in conventional clothing materials since it can make the clothes resistant from wrinkles. However, clothes which have been processed with formaldehyde are one of the leading causes for skin allergies or irritation.
If you are not too sure if the clothes have been processed with formaldehyde, then the best solution is to wash them first before using. This is quite effective especially for new clothes straight out of the racks. The amount of the formaldehyde resin is greatly lessened through high temperature washing. By washing new clothing, you can also get rid of pollen, dust, animal hair or mites. If you are allergic to formaldehyde, it is best to check the label and avoid creasing resistant clothes which are usually a combination of spandex (Lycra) and cotton.
Wool Based Clothing
Wool is not really the problem but the issue lies in the process by which wool was manufactured. The method usually utilizes lanolin, a type of alcohol. People who are prone to allergic reactions or those who have sensitive skin may experience a nasty reaction to the wool. The usual symptoms include itchiness or formation of prickles.
If you really need to buy clothing made from wool, always check the label and see if there are any indications that lanolin was used in the process. It can also help if you conduct further research and search for other clothing materials that are similar to wool minus the allergens.
Most people will not wash newly purchased clothes before wearing them. But if you are prone to skin allergies, it is best to wash the clothing first before using. There are reports which state how numerous clothing companies coat clothes with although most companies which practice such do claim that they only use a negligible amount of formaldehyde. To be on the safe side, make sure to wash new clothes first and ensure that you use skin friendly detergent.
Some people are also allergic to dye in general due to the presence of paraphenylenediamine or PPD. Although all colored clothing definitely contain a fair amount of dye, black dye contains more PPD compared to other dye colors. PPD can cause severe skin reactions especially to people who are susceptible to skin allergies. If you are allergic to PPD, then it is best to pick other colors like neutral ones or even just plain white colored clothes. You may also find a clothing line which does not use PPD on their dyed clothes.
Latex is an important material in many clothes since it is used for elasticity purposes. Unfortunately, some people can get allergic to latex and even the elastic in the underwear. Being allergic to latex can be very challenging since many clothes use this type of material. If you are seriously allergic to latex even through minimal exposure, then it is best to consult a dermatologist so they can recommend any topical ointment or perhaps any preventive measures to avoid allergy attacks caused by this clothing material.
Picking out clothes is more than about fashion or comfort. People who suffer from skin allergies should take notice of even the little details in order to prevent any allergy attacks. Minor allergies can be treated with over the counter medications but it is still highly advisable to consult a dermatologist for serious concerns.
There may be many other reasons why you may be allergic to a specific type of clothing. For this reason, we recommend practicing the philosophy of “Prevention is better than cure.”