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Polyester allergy: Symptoms, treatment, and prevention

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:

  • clothing
  • 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:

  • cotton
  • linen
  • wool
  • silk
  • spandex

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.

Contributing factors

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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