In this article, we look at the symptoms, treatment, and prevention of a polyester allergy.
What is a polyester allergy?
A person with a polyester allergy may experience a skin reaction when they come into direct contact with fabrics containing polyester. Polyester is a widespread synthetic fiber that is common in:
- home furnishings such as carpets, bedding, and curtains
- industrial fabrics
A polyester allergy is a type of contact dermatitis. There are two main types of contact dermatitis:
- Irritant contact dermatitis. This is the most common type, occurring when a substance irritates or damages the skin and causes inflammation. This reaction typically occurs within minutes or hours of the person’s skin coming into contact with the substance.
- Allergic contact dermatitis. This occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly reacts to a harmless substance, causing a skin reaction. This response often occurs several days after exposure to the allergen.
Polyester allergies are more likely to be due to irritant contact dermatitis.
A person can prevent reactions to polyester by avoiding direct contact with fabric that contains polyester. This may require finding alternatives to clothing or furnishings made from polyester. Alternative fabrics include:
Fabrics often contain a mix of different fibers, so it is essential to check the label before buying. For example, many cotton-based materials also contain polyester.
Many carpets also contain polyester, but it may not always be practical or affordable to replace these. However, a person can avoid direct contact with a polyester carpet by:
- wearing appropriate footwear, such as socks, slippers, or shoes
- putting down polyester-free rugs
- avoiding sitting or lying on the carpet
Informing an employer can also help reduce the risk of coming into contact with polyester. A person’s employer may take measures to replace polyester-based products with suitable alternatives. A doctor can provide written confirmation of a polyester allergy.
There are certain factors that can increase the likelihood of having a polyester allergy, such as:
- having other allergies
- having preexisting skin conditions, such as eczema
- having sensitive skin
- working with the skin submerged in water
- working in hot or humid environments
Polyester is a common synthetic fiber that manufacturers use in a range of fabrics, including clothing and home furnishings. For some people, coming into direct contact with polyester can cause a skin reaction.
The best prevention method for a polyester allergy is to avoid all skin contact with fabrics that contain polyester. This may not always be possible, but OTC and prescriptions medications are available to help manage symptoms.
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