Textile contact dermatitis: Is linen your way out?

Do you suffer from itches and rashes when you wear some fabrics? If you can relate, there’s a high likelihood that you may have textile or clothing dermatitis, which affects more people than you know. While some people are okay wearing pretty much anything and can barely feel the effect, some people’s skins react to fibers, dyes, resins, and other chemicals used in most of the clothes available in the market.

Why do you have textile contact dermatitis?

Here’s the thing- almost any fiber can cause a rash or other adverse reaction. However, some materials tend to be rougher and more laden with chemicals, making them more culprits than others. Take an example of a fiber that does not breathe well, forcing sweat to remain on the skin surface, irritating the skin’s pores. You would likely end up with a rash at the end of the day.

At other times, the chemicals in the clothes are to blame. Did you know that some manufacturers use formaldehyde and other strong chemicals in their clothes? In their defense, they do this to give their clients dirt-repellent and crease-free clothes that require minimal maintenance. However, to a person with textile contact dermatitis, such chemical use only adds insult to the injury. That’s why you might take off your clothes and realize you’re red and the skin looks inflamed. In some cases, your skin can also take on the color of the clothes.

Can it get worse? Yes! If you wear a chemical-laden material with poor breathability that clings to your skin, you will combine two dermatitis triggers. The material will rub on you, irritating your pores, and at the same time, will bar sweat from leaving the skin’s surface. For someone who already suffers irritation from one of these triggers, this would be pretty uncomfortable.

How can you Deal with Textile Contact Dermatitis?

Luckily, you do not have to resort to ointments and creams in most cases. Your relief can come from simple measures such as:


You have to take the irritant out of the equation. For example, if you’ve been wearing a lot of polyester of late and have noticed that your skin is not doing well, it’s time you gave your skin a break. Figure out what’s changed in the last few days or weeks that could have triggered the reaction, and you’ll be one step closer to relief.

Dye Avoidance

See those bright colors that often call to you? Usually, manufacturers achieve these hues by combining a load of chemicals during the manufacturing processes. An easy way to avoid coming into contact with the chemicals is by choosing lighter-colored clothes as they will have fewer dyes. Alternatively, you can research the company and figure out how they make their products. If they advocate for sustainable manufacturing, you should be safe.

Label Checks

Always read the label of the material. For example, a label that says ‘wash separately’ implies that the garment has a lot of dye, indicating a high chemical usage. Other labels to avoid include dirt repellent, wash and wear, no-iron, and permanent press.

Natural Fibers

Did you know that natural fibers are ideal options when treating textile contact dermatitis symptoms? These loose garments enable your skin to breathe, thus enabling sweat to evaporate, leaving the skin’s pores clear. Making the switch to such fibers might be all you need to bid your rashes adieu.

Why Linen?

Not only is linen a proven hypoallergenic material (goodbye irritation), but it is also breathable and wicks moisture away from the skin without getting wet. It can carry up to 20% of its dry weight in water and still feel dry on the skin. Its proven positive effects on people with allergies have made it a good choice for clothes and bedding.

Moreover, it is one of the most sustainable fabrics on the planet. It uses very little water when growing and does not need fertilization during its active growing phases. That means no pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides go into its cultivation. As icing on the cake, manufacturers such as LinenFoxClothes.com enhance this sustainability by using only organic flax in their clothes. They also embrace clean manufacturing processes, ensuring that the end product is free of irritants.

And finally, linen is durable and will serve you for a long time. When you eventually do away with it, it will naturally degrade, giving back to the environment, unlike other fabrics that ruin the ecosystem.

Detergent Checks

You might think that the material is to blame while, in fact, you’ve changed your detergent or bleach in the last few days or weeks, and it could be triggering the skin reaction. Many people have spent money on ointments, thinking they had a skin condition, only to realize that their detergents or fabric softeners were too strong for their skins. Have you changed your washing cycle of late?

Should you Seek Medical Advice?

In most cases, the rashes and itching go away once you eliminate the triggers. However, some people require creams and antihistamines to bring down the inflammation. If you still don’t see a positive change in your skin after trying all the above tricks, it may be time to call the doctor.

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