We have to wear clothes.
We have to eat food.
And when these items cause us discomfort of one sort or another it can make our lives not so fun!
Unless you are having difficulty breathing or having a bright obvious rash, it can be difficult to determine if you are actually having an allergic reaction or hypersensitivity irritation, which medically are different body responses.
I touched on that in a previous article and will delve into that more in future articles; but for our purposes today, it really does not matter what your medical diagnosis is.
What matters is: Are you loving the way your skin feels when in contact with this fabric fiber?
If you are not loving the way your skin feels, looks, responds, then that fiber is not for you!
Cotton is generally considered the least reactive fiber, and is most generally considered hypo-allergenic in it’s most base form. When people have reactions to cotton, and many other “natural” fibers, it might be a result of the chemicals used to process and dye the fiber.
Chemicals may or may not be an issue for you. For some people, it is a matter of social principal. However, I am NOT making any statements for or against the moral or social use of chemicals, dyes, synthetic fiber manufacturing, or environmental impact.
Chemicals are a fact of life. Some of them are man-made, some of them are naturally occurring.
You must make your own personal choices based on your body’s reaction to contact exposure, your gut instinct and your personal understanding and beliefs. I will not inflict my opinion as fact and attempt to impose them on anyone. I am here to share my experience with the way that my body reacts to different materials, and the things I learn about.
Even your organic and plant based dyes can be irritants for your skin. Even natural and plant based dyes need something to “set” the dye. While a mindful dying company, or indie dyer, might use very natural products to do that, you can still react if you are sensitive to an ingredient.
Most commercially processed fibers are washed in a concoction of chemicals to make them colorfast, wrinkle resistant and washable. Manufacturers are not required to list what those products are, which makes it difficult to identify exactly what you might be reacting to.
Two examples of chemicals used in processing fibers are:
- Formaldehyde: a naturally occurring organic compound used as a common precursor to more complex compounds and materials in manufacturing. The textile industry uses formaldehyde-based resins to make fabrics crease-resistant during packaging, storage and transport.
- Paraphenylenediamine (PPD): a chemical widely used in permanent hair dye. It is also used in some textile and fur dyes, dark colored cosmetics, temporary tattoos, photographic developer and lithography plates, photocopying and printing inks, black rubber, oils, greases and gasoline.
So, in general, my rule again, is, if you are feeling itchy or getting rashy, and having a layer between you and the item or wearing it loosely does not resolve the issue, then don’t wear it. Think about this especially with items you are making. You spend a lot of time in contact with the fiber during the stitching process, and if it is not making your skin happy, then let me help you re-think your future projects so you are excited about making, gifting or wearing your lovingly hand stitched projects.
I continue to seek out and carry a wonderful selection of allergy-conscious fibers at Perfectly Knotty. I have several new lines scheduled for 2018 and will be working to transition my online sales off of Etsy and have more of our yarns available for sale here on the website in 2018. It will be a slow process, and will start with a list of available brands and lines. I can process and ship phone orders anytime inside shop hours in the meantime!
In closing, here are some ideas for reducing some of the typical contact responses that are shared by DermNet New Zealand, an online library dedicated to skin conditions:
- Wear clothing that is made and dyed from natural fibers such as cotton and linen.
- Wear clothing that is light colored as these will contain less dye.
- Wear loose fitting clothing in hot/humid environments
- Avoid clothing that is labeled “non-iron” and “dirt-repellent” as it is likely these have been chemically treated
- Avoid clothing marked “wash separately” as this implies dyes easily bleed from the fabric, therefore onto your skin