What you wear can have an impact on your skin. It’s important to be aware of how your skin reacts to certain clothing and jewelry in order to avoid unpleasant rashes and infections. Below are just a few important things to consider.
Know the signs of a skin allergy
An allergy occurs when your immune system overreacts to a non-harmful substance. In the case of skin allergies, certain materials, chemicals or metals may be the trigger.
Skin allergy reactions can vary but will generally result in one of the following symptoms:
- Raised bumps (hives)
- Dry or cracked skin
Various antihistamine products exist that can help to relieve symptoms if you start to get a reaction. These include tablets and topical creams.
Of course, the best way to fight off a skin allergy is to avoid the trigger. Continuing to expose your skin to trigger substances will just cause continual reactions that may get worse. Rashes and dryness could also possibly lead to permanent scarring or infection if allowed to constantly flare up.
Clothing and jewelry is a common trigger, however it’s worth noting that there are other possible triggers such as makeup, pollen, perfume or soap. Rule these out before considering your clothing and jewelry.
When in doubt, stick to cotton clothing
You can develop an allergy to practically any material. A few common materials that people develop allergies to include:
- Formaldehyde resins
Synthetic materials are most likely to cause allergic reactions. Some natural materials can still cause irritation such as wool – rashes caused by wool tend to not be an allergic reaction but are simply the result of the material rubbing against the skin. Leather can also cause people to develop rashes, although it is rarer.
If you’ve been experiencing rashes on the skin and you can’t identify the material, consider whether it’s worth sticking to cotton clothing. Cotton rarely ever causes an allergic reaction in people and tends to be a safe bet.
Choose hypoallergenic metals
A lot of people develop metal allergies. Nickel is the most common metal allergy trigger – if you’ve got a rash on your stomach, it could be from a nickel button on your jeans.
Metal jewelry is a big trigger too. If you’ve experienced rashes around your neck where you wear a necklace or rashes around your ears where you wear earrings, consider whether your jewelry is to blame. It could be worth switching to hypoallergenic metals such as titanium. This is especially worthwhile when it comes to piercing jewelry – a titanium nose stud is less likely to be rejected or get infected than a steel nose stud (some of which may contain nickel). When it comes to pure metals, gold tends to cause less reactions than silver.
Avoid chafing from materials
Chafing occurs when a material continually rubs against the skin causing friction. This can result in rashes, cuts or even blisters. Shoes, bras, t-shirts and tight jeans are just some of the clothing that can typically result in chafing.
You’re most likely to experience chafing during physical activity. The combination of moisture from sweat and constant movement causes clothing to stick, slip and rub against skin. This can fortunately be avoided several ways:
- Dress in moisture-wicking fabrics when doing exercise. These help to expel sweat to the outside of the material. Moisture-wicking socks – commonly made of merino wool – are common when doing activities like hiking or running.
- Use talc to stop rubbing. Talc is known to reduce friction and is commonly used to prevent irritation from sweaty socks and bras.
- Place pads, plasters or bandages over areas that are prone to rubbing.
- Use anti-perspirant to reduce sweating.
Make sure clothing is clean
If bacteria is allowed to fester in clothing, it can increase the risk of a skin infection occurring. This is why you should always clean your gym clothing between uses. Many people do not realize that dirty gym clothing is often covered in bacteria (which is partly what causes it to smell) and should be washed before you put it on again.
Be wary of your choice of detergent
While washing your clothes can get rid of bacteria, you should be wary of the type of detergent you use. Certain detergents are known to contain chemicals that result in skin allergies.
Such skin allergies are sometimes difficult to diagnose. Many people assume that it’s the material causing them rashes and not the detergent that they washed it in. If you regularly experience skin allergy symptoms, try changing your detergent to see if it makes a difference. There are hypoallergenic detergents on the market that don’t contain common chemical triggers – these could be worth using.