What is a Wool Allergy?

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Wool Allergy

Wool is a clothing material derived from sheep. It contains natural oil called lanolin, which is the cause of many people’s wool allergies. People who show allergic reactions to lanolin in wool will also exhibit the same reactions when exposed to other products that contain lanolin.

Wool Allergy Symptoms

• Skin Irritation – because wool products often come in direct contact with the skin, the most common symptoms are rashes and hives.

• Eye irritation – real wool allergy can also affect the person’s eyes. This can come in the form of redness, itching and puffiness of the eyes.

• Nasal Problems – runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion and other respiratory problems are also symptoms of wool allergy. This may be due and other chemicals present in the wool.

Wool Sensitivity

Although a lot of people are sensitive to wool, medical experts agree that real wool allergy is rare. Some of the people claiming to have wool allergy just have sensitive skin.

It’s important to know whether you have wool allergy or wool sensitivity before getting any treatment.

Wool Allergy Test

1. 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 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.

2. 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.

If true allergy to wool fabric is so uncommon, why does your skin become itchy and irritated when you wear it?

It appears that people who develop skin irritation when they wear wool are reacting to the coarseness of the wool fiber rather than anything inherent to the wool itself. People who have certain types of skin problems such as eczema, which makes their skin more sensitive, commonly experience wool sensitivity. Wearing a coarsely textured wool sweater with its long, prickly fibers can activate nerve fibers on the skin and cause itch and even pain, while you may be able to wear a soft, very finely woven wool fabric without any problems.

One of the best ways to determine if you have a true allergy to wool is to try wearing an item made of very soft, finely woven wool. If you don’t experience irritation with this type of wool fabric, you most likely have wool sensitivity rather than a true allergy to wool.

What can you do if you have wool sensitivity and still want to wear wool?

Shopping for fine grades of wool without any prickly fibers to irritate the skin can make a difference for some people. Many people who experience itching and skin irritation when wearing coarse wool sweaters can wear soft cashmere sweaters without a problem. Unfortunately, these finer wools come with a higher price tag, but may be worth the extra money. Don’t assume because some wool sweaters irritate your skin that you can’t wear any type of wool at all.

Another option if you have wool sensitivity is to buy wool that’s lined with another, non-irritating fabric such as cotton or silk. This is relatively easy to find when shopping for pants, but may be more of a challenge for sweaters. For sweaters, try wearing a shirt underneath made of a non-irritating fabric. Avoid wearing turtle neck sweaters since the thinner skin in the neck area can be especially sensitive to coarse, prickly fibers.

Don’t give up on wool if you have wool sensitivity. With a little experimentation, you may be able to wear those chic wool fashions after all.

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