For some, wool clothes and garments are a lifesaver, especially during winter, since they are warm and, in some cases, water-resistant. Conversely, for others, even the sight of a woolen garment sends body shivers due to the itchiness, rashes, skin inflammation, and respiratory problems that it causes.
But what do you do once your body has a wool allergic reaction? There are effective home remedies for wool allergy that will be discussed below. What about the causes and symptoms of wool allergy? Let us find out.
What Causes Wool Allergy?
The wool fabric itself rarely triggers an allergic reaction. However, there are certain components in the wool material that causes wool allergy.
As a result, wool can cause an allergic reaction to wool in various ways, including:
1. Through the Lanolin Component
The main cause of wool allergy is the lanolin component, also called wool grease or wool wax. It is a waxy substance found in sheep’s wool whose function is to condition it.
As a waterproofing substance, its primary role is protecting the sheep’s skin and wool from the environment and climate. For instance, it sheds off water from sheep’s skin.
Wool clothes contain high amounts of lanolin oil. Therefore, if you put on a wool cloth and suddenly get itchy or develop a rash, that could mean you are allergic to lanolin oil in the wool garment.
2. Wool As An Allergen Carrier
Wool clothes can be the biggest carriers of allergens, such as cat dander and dust mite allergens, especially if not frequently cleaned. Consequently, when the woolen garment comes into contact with your skin, it will likely trigger an allergic reaction; wool allergy.
3. Bristly Woolen Fibers
Some woolen clothes may contain coarse fibers that prink on your skin, causing skin irritation. The presence of bristly fibers in woolen clothes is mostly a result of poor wool combing and spinning.
The tiny wool strands primarily affect people with sensitive skin.
4. Symptoms of Wool Allergy
You can identify an allergic reaction based on certain signs and symptoms. The symptoms usually appear on your face, arm, hands, and feet. They may occur after a few hours of contact or after a couple of days.
Here are the main symptoms of wool allergy:
If you are sensitive to the lanolin component in the wool, you will likely get irritated along your throat or airways, sparking a cough.
Irritated Skin and Rashes
This is the leading and initial symptom of wool allergy. Since the wool comes into direct contact with your skin, it will likely cause skin irritation, itching, and rashes. Symptoms could also develop into small red itchy bumps.
The wool allergy could be exhibited in your respiratory system. It could be nasal congestion, sneezing, or a runny nose.
If the wool allergy reaction intensifies, you may experience itchy eyes, under-eye swelling, and conjunctivitis (eyes turning red).
Woolen garments can spark an allergic reaction, especially if you have sensitive skin. When the wool comes into direct contact with your skin, it triggers contact irritation that could also trigger eczema. So, if you suffer from eczema, you must avoid woolen clothes.
Home Remedies For Wool Allergy
a) Avoid Woolen Fabric Products Containing The Allergen
The initial remedy to take is to avoid wearing woolen fabrics that trigger the allergic reaction. In this case, you would want to avoid wearing woolen garments containing the lanolin component.
If you have to use a woolen cloth, make sure it is made of high-quality wool, preferably merino wool, and most importantly, does not contain any chemicals used in conventional wool products.
But even so, put on a thick underlayer between the woolen fabric and your skin to avoid contact.
b) Avoid Products Containing Lanolin, Such As Ointments
Do not use cosmetic or pharmaceutical products containing wool wax as an ingredient. Some products refer to lanolin as wool grease, wool fat, Amerchol, Aloholes lanae, Anhydrous lanolin, etc.
Before buying any of these products, check out its label to rule out a wool wax ingredient.
c) Cold Presses
Did you know that cold presses help relieve your itching skin, not to mention the red bumps emanating from the allergic reaction? You only need an ice pack wrapped in a cold, moist cloth. Gently wrap the ice pack or a damp cloth on the affected area.
The cold, moist compress soothes your skin, breaks the itching cycle, and hinders skin inflammation.
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d) Take A Baking Soda Bath
If the above methods don’t work, try to take a bath (not your ordinary bath but a baking soda bath). Due to its alkalinity, baking soda will not only relieve you of skin itching and inflammation but also soothes your skin.
Pour quarter cup of baking soda into lukewarm water in the bathtub. For best results, add colloidal oatmeal. The oatmeal forms a skin barrier that locks in moisture and hydrates your skin. What’s more, it comprises anti-inflammatory properties and alleviates skin irritation.
Soak in the tub water for 10-15 minutes and towel dry. Then gently apply moisturizer to your body with special attention to the affected areas.
e) Wear Cotton Fabrics
Avoid putting on clothes with thick or coarse fabrics. Instead, wear loose, cotton clothing. Cotton fabric is an all-natural material. Besides, it features hypoallergenic properties, therefore, cannot trigger any skin irritation.
Moreover, the cotton fabric is breathable, not to mention an excellent water absorber. Thus, it does not cause skin irritation but instead minimizes the severity of the irritation.
Furthermore, the cotton clothes you choose should be smooth-textured hence easy on your sensitive skin.
Lanolin, a natural wax oil found in wool, is the leading cause of the wool allergic reaction. Other possible causes of wool-related irritation include coarse wool fibers poking through your skin or pet dander and other related allergens stuck in the wool fabric.
Wool allergy causes skin rashes, irritation, inflammation, runny nose, and nasal congestion, to mention a few. Luckily, we have learned some effective home remedies that relieve your body from wool allergy.
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