Love The Skin You Are In
Lets learn about Clothing Dermatitis
DermNet New Zealand, a New Zealand based trust presents facts about the skin for consumers and professionals on their website DermNetNZ.org. DermNet presents authoritative facts about the skin for consumers and health professionals in New Zealand and throughout the world. DermNet covers hundreds of illustrated topics about skin diseases and conditions, dermatopathology, treatments and procedures. Trustees are renowned dermatologists.
DermNet throws light on “Textile Contact Dermatitis” and explains that textile fiber can be natural, synthetic or a combination of the two materials. Natural fibers include silk, wood, cotton and linen. Synthetic or man-made fibers include rayon, nylon, polyester, rubber, fiberglass and spandex.
Contact dermatitis is inflammation of the skin induced by chemicals that directly damage the skin and by specific sensitivity in the case of allergic contact dermatitis.
Allergic skin reactions to clothing is most often a result of the formaldehyde finishing resins, dyes, glues, chemical additives and tanning agents used in processing the fabric or clothing. Cases of allergic contact dermatitis have been reported for the following fabric additives.
- Formaldehyde resins used in fabrics to make them wrinkle-resistant
- Para-phenylenediamine (PPD) used in textile and fur dyes
- Azo and anthraquinone based dispersal dyes. These dyes are loosely bound to the fabric structure and can easily rub off onto the skin. They are rarely used in textiles nowadays
- Flame retardants
Other contact allergens that may be incorporated into the fabric of clothing and cause contact dermatitis include chrome, cobalt, latex and rubber accelerators.
Metallic fasteners and elastic in clothing can also cause contact dermatitis where they are in contact with skin. Metallic stud fasteners on blue jeans are a common cause of nickel dermatitis.
This is a very important information for sensitive skin people. DermNet website has various pictures of actual ailments (rashes, skin marks) they treated for various patients. I think that in an incredible information and work they are doing. Run by professional and renowned dermatologist, DermNet is a real example and informational source for us to learn and avoid chemicals in textiles. They mention the names of many chemicals proven to cause various skin ailments.
The website also states that these skin problems are more prevalent in women than men since women wear more “colorful” and fitted clothes. The allergies can happen within hours or till many days later.
They inform that the condition can worsen if the chemical coated fabric keeps rubbing against the skin in a sweaty, hot and humid places. It might lead a condition called intertrigo (rash in the flexures or body folds).
Obese and heavier people working in hot and humid climates can catch “textile contact dermatitis”.
To avoid this problem, DermNet suggest to wear natural fiber made clothes, wear loose clothes when working in hot and humid places, wear light color clothes and not to wear “non-iron” and “dirt repellent” clothes as they are coated with chemicals.
Washington State Department of Labor and Industries inform in a report that clothing can be a cause of occupational dermatitis. The source of dermatitis can be the fabric itself, chemical additives used in processing the fabric and hardware and fasteners. The physical or occlusive effect of clothing can result in dermatitis. Contaminated clothing from workplace chemicals, friction from clothing rubbing the skin, or heat retention from perspiration.
Textile formaldehyde resins are used in materials such as cotton or cotton/polyester blend fabrics to make the fabric wrinkle-resistant.
Allergic reactions to the dyes used in fabrics are more common than a reaction to the fabric material that has been dyed. Most reported allergic reactions have been to dispersal dyes with azo and anthraquinone structures. These dyes are loosely held on the fabric structure and easily rubbed off on the skin.
Prickly heat rash, miliaria rubra, develops when workers are not acclimated to hot environments. Fabrics that do not breathe, such as synthetic fabrics, or tight 3 protective clothing, can become soaked with perspiration.
Health Canada, a Canadian Federal department organization responsible for helping people maintain and improve their health throws light on sensitizers. They state “Sensitizers are materials that can cause severe skin and/or respiratory responses in a sensitized worker after exposure to a very small amount of the material. Sensitization develops over time. When a worker is first exposed to a sensitizer, there may be no obvious reaction. However, future exposures can lead to increasingly severe reactions in sensitized workers”.
Below are fabrics known to be sensitizers:
Silk is rarely a sensitizer.
Polyesters – Plastic or synthetic fibers as acrylic, orlon, polyvinyl resins or spandex are used in diapers, socks and girdles. The irritant may be due to mercaptobenzothiazole causing contact dermatitis, cause from the material itself, the dye or due to the finish of the fabric.
Spandex-This is a non-rubber, stretchable, polyurethane fiber which is used in various fabrics for stretch like women’s leggings, clothing for sports, socks, brassieres, and girdles. The sensitizer in these fabrics is mercaptobenzothiazole.
Formaldehyde-Formaldehyde and its resins are used in the preparation of fabrics, facial tissues, toilet papers and in certain types of clothes to make them wrinkle free.
Paraphenylene diamine is used in fur manufacture. This may act as a sensitizer.
Remnants of bar soaps or powdered soaps on washed clothing is an important cause of dermatitis especially the underwear.
Fabric may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about living a healthier lifestyle, but it definitely should be considered. Even many health conscious people don’t realize that synthetic fabrics are teaming with chemicals and dyes that cannot be washed out, making them a potential health hazard.
Be safe, wear safe.
- Main Image courtesy Pixabay.com