Is your wool causing you to be Itchy? January 19 2015, 0 Comments

If I had a quarter for every time I heard “I can’t wear that, I am allergic to wool”, I would be rich.  Most people don’t understand that only a very small percentage of the world, 6 % to be precise, are actually allergic to wool.  The others, just have a skin irritation to wool.  And as us fibre people know, this certainly does not relate to Merino, one of the lowest and softest of the wools.  This is because of it’s low micron count.  Most wool clothing is very course and pricks the skin and bugs us so people assume they are allergic.  A lot of ski clothing is made of Merino wool and you would never even know it is wool.

Some people who have wool sensitivity are also sensitive to other rough fabrics. The quality and roughness of the wool will depend on how it was combed and spun. Wool combing removes shorter and weaker wool fibers. If this is not done properly, the weaker fibers will stick out of the finished product. These are the tiny strands that poke you, causing your skin to get irritated.

Dye and other cleaning materials – making wool products is a long and tedious process. There are many chemicals used to remove the oils, clean the wool and add coloring to it. Some people complain about wool allergies, not knowing that their allergic reactions were caused by the chemicals used to process wool. Both synthetic and organic dyes may trigger allergic reactions. Contrary to what most manufacturers say, natural dyes are not 100% safe.  Sometimes, if the wool is not processed well, there can still be vegetable matter in there that may cause an allergy.  And for others, it is the lanolin in the wool that they are sensitive too.  If you are allergic to lanolin, you will most likely not get itchy, but will actually get a rash.

To find out if you’re just sensitive to wool, try wearing a layer of clothing between your skin and the wool clothing. If you don’t experience any allergic symptoms, it’s clear that you only have a sensitivity. This also means that you can continue using products that contain wool, as long as it doesn’t come into direct contact with your skin.  If you had an allergic reaction, even if the wool didn’t come in direct contact with your skin, you should go to the doctor to have a patch test done. They will conduct a test using wool alcohols to determine if you really have wool allergy.

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