Threatening Threads: How to Tell If You’re Allergic to Your Clothes

Think about your favorite clothing item and what makes it your favorite. It’s likely your favorite not just because of how it makes you look but also because of how it makes you feel.

Unfortunately, this may sound odd, but many people are allergic to clothes — whether it’s the material itself or the detergent used to wash them — without knowing it.

If you frequently break out in rashes, your clothes may be the culprit. We’ve compiled a guide on how to tell if you’re allergic to your clothes.

Let’s dig in!

Signs You’re Allergic to Clothes

As with many other kinds of allergies, allergy symptoms related to clothing can be mild, occasional or even severe. It all depends on the types of triggers you’re dealing with.

Here are several indicators that you’ve got a clothing allergy:

  • Watery eyes stemming from inflammation
  • Runny nose due to breathing in the airborne chemicals in the detergents used
  • Skin redness
  • Skin lesions and blistering due to the merging of metallic particles with sweat
  • Itchy and scaly skin, along with inflammation and swelling
  • Hard and cracked or even peeling skin surfaces
  • Hair follicle inflammation due to clothes contamination
  • Skin acne
  • Warm skin

These symptoms are a telltale sign of a condition known as allergic contact dermatitis. However, another type of this condition exists — one that isn’t associated with allergic responses: irritant contact dermatitis.

Let’s take a look at these conditions, which can be hard to tell apart.

What Is Allergic Contact Dermatitis?

Allergic responses take place when people’s immune systems start to fight against whatever they perceive to be harmful.

For you, a material like latex, rubber or wool may trigger this type of allergic response. You can find these materials in the following types of clothing items:

  • Waistbands
  • Shoes
  • Shirts
  • Pants
  • Gloves
  • Bras

Yet another allergen that may affect you is nickel — a metal you can find not just in jewelry but also in various fashion accessories.

For instance, earrings usually contain nickel, as do snaps, zippers, buttons and belt buckles.

If you are allergic to nickel, you may notice that your symptoms worsen during the hotter summer months, when you tend to sweat a lot.

What Is Irritant Contact Dermatitis?

Certain chemicals and materials can cause the skin to be irritated without necessarily leading to allergic reactions. This is why you’ll likely hear more about irritant contact dermatitis than you will allergic contact dermatitis.

If you suffer from irritant contact dermatitis, latex or wool may be the culprit. However, the below items more frequently cause this condition:

  • Soap
  • Laundry detergent
  • Fabric softener
  • Clothing dyes

Other strong acids and chemicals may cause this condition as well. But the reality is that just about anything can start to irritate your skin if you’re exposed to it for too long — even water.

What Reaction Are You Experiencing?

So, how exactly do you know whether you’re suffering from irritant or allergic contact dermatitis?

The best way to find out is to have a consultation with your dermatologist.

While talking to your dermatologist, give him or her all of the information you can about the following:

  • The skin lighteners you use
  • The products you use to care for your skin
  • Your pets
  • Your job
  • Your hobbies
  • Your health history
  • The cosmetics you use
  • Your clothing
  • Your detergents

Your dermatologist may decide to perform what’s called a patch test to determine what chemical or material is causing your issue.

Performing a patch test involves applying small quantities of possible irritants to the skin. Then, you wait several days to see which materials have caused you to have an allergic reaction.

How Do You Treat the Issue?

If you’re allergic to clothes, the best way to address the issue is to avoid whatever material is causing your problem.

For instance, if your nickel zipper is the culprit, replace it with one made from nylon. Meanwhile, if your bra’s latex is causing you irritation and redness, search for a bra made from a material that is not rubber, like spandex.

As soon as you quit wearing the material that’s been irritating your skin, you should notice your skin clear in around one to three weeks.

You could also ask your doctor about corticosteroid creams or moisturizers that may be helpful for relieving your symptoms, such as itchiness and rashes.

Antihistamines may also come in handy, as they are among the most effective tools for eradicating common symptoms of allergies in general.

How Else Can You Control Clothing-Related Allergies?

To avoid clothing allergy issues, we suggest wearing cotton — for example, the soft cotton-blend-material joggers offered by Size Up Apparel (you can read more here about these trendy yet comfortable sweatpants). Cotton has a reputation for being less likely to cause a clothing allergy, so it’s a smart choice.

Also, don’t forget to wash any new clothing items you buy before you wear them. Along the same lines, be sure to wash your clothing items before you use them again.

In addition, use only water and soap when washing your clothes. Try to avoid using fabric conditioner or detergents containing harsh chemicals, like perfumes.

Another wise move? Get rid of your old clothing items, as they might have accumulated mites and dust over time.

How We Can Help

We offer a wide range of tips and advice regarding everything related to health and beauty.

For instance, we provide guidance on how to take care of your skin, including how to make it look and feel rejuvenated. We also go over various treatments that can bring your hair back to life.

Through our site, you can additionally find out how to style your hair using a flat iron or hot rollers, for example. We furthermore offer an in-depth look at what laser hair removal involves.

Get in touch with us to find out more about what you should do if you’re allergic to clothes and how else you can take care of your skin and hair during the coming fall and winter seasons.