You are currently viewing Wool is not an allergen and does not have to irritate skin

While at a fiber fest recently I had someone stop by at my booth claiming she was allergic to wool. Although the belief that wool can cause allergic reactions has been proven not to be true, many people still hold on to the belief that can. She then suggested that it possibly she didn’t have an allergy but rather skin irritation whenever she wore wool. Skin irritation due to wool is a frequent occurrence when wearables are made from wool that is too coarse for wearables. You see, it is not the “scales” on wool that cause skin irritation but rather the girth of the fiber is to blame.
I suggested that my garments would not cause her to react and to prove it she agreed to wear one of my scarves while she toured the event. Four hours later she returned with great surprise. The wool scarf had not caused irritation at all. On the contrary, she reported that she liked the softness and found it very soothing.
Recent research has uncovered why our perception that wool can be perceived to cause allergic reactions is false.
A major study, conducted by an expert group of allergists, immunologists, and dermatologists from across the globe, reviewed the past 100 years of research to assess claims that wool causes allergy. The study concluded that there is no evidence that wool is an allergen, but it can irritate!
The study found that any skin irritation caused by wool garments was due to the incidence of coarse fibers protruding from the fabric and that this cause is independent of fiber type. Skin irritation can just as readily be caused by coarse synthetic fibers, such as acrylic and nylon, as by coarse wool fibers. But superfine and ultrafine Merino fibers bend easily, causing minimal or no skin irritation. Several other recent studies have come to the same conclusion.
In addition, this most recent research is of high relevance to allergists, dermatologists, physicians and to consumers. Research is showing that superfine wool base-layer garments to be beneficial to people with sensitive skin, such as eczema sufferers. Because of this, wool can actually be beneficial for eczema sufferers.
There are mathematical equations that help determine at what point a fiber will begin to be a skin irritant. But let’s not go there.
Toss out the belief that “barbs” cause irritation and embrace the fact that wool wearables, when appropriate wool coarseness is taken into consideration, will not irritate skin and can actually help healing for some.

Debunking the Myth of Wool Allergy

Sources of information

Debunking the Myth of Wool Allergy: Reviewing the Evidence for Immune and Non-immune Cutaneous Reactions. Michaela Zallmann1,2, Pete K. Smith3, Mimi L. K. Tang2,4,5, Lynda J. Spelman6, Jennifer L. Cahill7, Gabriele Wortmann8, Constance H. Katelaris9, Katrina J. Allen2,4,5 and John C. Su1,2,4,5,is%20independent%20of%20fibre%20type

Article by Kati Fritz-Jung Region 18