unable to wear any kind of clothes of any material due to sensitive skin

by mohamed
(chennai, tamilnadu, india)

when i am wearing any kind of shirt or any clothes in my upper part of the body i am getting heartburn problems if i am not wearing any clothes i am normal i tried all types of clothes including cotton i don't know what to do please suggest me some good ideas what actually happens is my stomach starts to bloat then i get chest tightness or irritation and the other day i get constipated to have a good sleep i used to apply balm on my chest, nose to have good sleep the symptoms is just like or same as heartburn but only i get when wearing a shirt

My reply

Hi Mohamed, thank you for writing. Have you asked your doctor or health care practitioner about this very painful symptom? It sounds like you may be experiencing clothing allergy symptoms.

Many fabrics are treated with chemicals, dyes pesticides, formaldehyde and formaldehyde resins. Darker colored dyes tend to cause more allergies.

Clothing may also have residues of soaps which can cause an allergic reaction. Also some clothing contains latex, rubber or spandex which some people are allergic to.

You can learn more about clothing allergies at this Clothing Dermatitis site.

Another possibility is that you may be allergic to dust mites or animal dander that settles into clothing. The easiest way to avoid this is to only use freshly washed clothing.

Do you notice any pattern in your symptoms? I recommend that you start a journal that details your symptoms and each type of clothing you are wearing.

Then you can begin to notice a pattern. For example, do your skin rashes happen more with newer clothes? Or clothes of a particular fabric or color? Or clothes washed with a particular soap? Pay attention to all the details so that you can find out what your body is reacting to.

Clothing That May be More Irritating

Yes, some people think that cotton, natural fabrics or organic can be the least irritating for a clothing allergy, however even organic cotton may be treated with formaldehyde, chemical finishes or contain dyes that could be causing a reaction.

Also, if the cotton contains traces of bleach, soaps or other chemicals this may also cause a skin rash or allergenic reaction as you described.

The Dermatology Online Journal
recommends that you avoid rayon, cotton polyester blend and corduroy fabrics which can have more chemicals.

Clothing That is Less Irritating

It is very complicated to find non-irritating clothing if you have a textile allergy. Try looking for chemical free clothing rather than 100% or 100% organic clothing, since this does not guarantee that you won't be exposed to allergens.

Some of the fabrics which seem to provoke less of an allergic reaction may surprise you...

Silk is often well tolerated by people who are sensitive to other fabrics. It is natural but very expensive.

Surprisingly, 100% polyester clothing is sometimes less irritating. I've found this for myself, and it is also more affordable! This really depends on the individual clothing though.

Other choices are more natural but may be less convenient. For example, if you don't mind ironing, choose 100% linen or 100% cotton fabrics that wrinkle easily! This means they don't have chemicals added to them to remove the wrinkles, which requires a little more time.

Wool can be scratchy, but may provide some relief from the worse of your clothing allergy symptoms. It can be expensive, and you will need to find washable wool.

If you like jeans, some denim fabrics may be relatively free of allergens.

Some people deal with a clothing allergy by using less irritating fabrics and washing their clothes in a hypoallergenic laundry detergent or laundry soap.

Then they soak the clothes for a few hours or overnight overnight with a few drops of lemon or white vinegar. Then the clothes are washed again without soap. You may want to try this first, in case you are reacting to the soaps used to launder the clothes.

I've also discovered that washing clothing and fabrics with zeolite helps to remove chemical residues.

One last thing, I've learned a lot about this recently and some people who start reacting to chemicals experience the problem getting worse even if they remove the chemical exposures. If this is happening for you, please see my experience at When Hypersensitivity Goes Too Far.

Please let us know what you learn Mohamed, and I will continue to add to this page as I learn more about this subject. You can leave a comment on this page. Does anyone else reading this have experience with clothing allergy or clothing dermatitis?

Comments for unable to wear any kind of clothes of any material due to sensitive skin

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Mar 15, 2015
I updated this page
by: MySensitiveSkincare.com

I just updated this page with some new things I've learned, as I went through a severe bout of chemical sensitivity last summer. One thing I learned is that adding a small amount of powdered zeolite to my laundry helped to remove chemical residues from clothing and fabrics. I also have used this to remove chemical odors from carpets. Blessings, I hope everyone finds a good solution for clothing allergies.

Mar 14, 2015
father's allergy to clothing
by: Marjorie

My dad's dermatologist identified his allergies as the formahyde, found in permanent press. Also nickel, potassium dia., cobalt, and other things. He said to were all cotton clothing made in the USA. He said the clothing made in China and other countries contains nickel and other irritants. It is very difficult to find this at a reasonable price.

Oct 26, 2014
Annoying types of materials to wear
by: K.G

Glad to know I'm not the only one who suffers with wearing certain types of material.

The worst being 100% cotton (or so they say) shirts and a combination of Cotton/Polyester sweatshirts. After a while of wearing these, I get goose bumps/itchiness on the lower parts of my arms which becomes so irritable, I can't wait to remove these items of clothing. Interesting I've got an old 100% polyester sweatshirt which I can wear with out any problem.

I often wonder if cheap imported clothes may have something to do with this as cotton shirts never use to bother me.

Dec 30, 2012
Same here
by: Anonymous

I have had exactly the same problem, can only wear four shirts, and it is driving me mad. I don't know what to do.

Aug 17, 2012
PPD in clothing dyes
by: Anonymous

I was recently diagnosed with a PPD sensitivity. This chemical is commonly found in hair dyes and causes severe allergic reactions. The doctor gave me an information sheet saying I may be allergic to textile dyes. I am still confused about what to do with this information. I haven't noticed problems with my clothing yet, and I hope it will stay that way! I thought PPD might be something to look into to see if you are allergic to anything else with PPD.

Jul 11, 2012
I updated this page
by: My Sensitive Skin Care

Hi everyone, thank you for sharing your experiences and comments. I have updated this page to reflect new information I've learned about the kind of fabrics that may be less irritating. Have you found that wearing 100% polyester or wool has helped your clothing allergies?

Oct 18, 2011
by: Anonymous


Aug 07, 2011
Might be complex
by: Anonymous


First, knock off the antacids. "Heartburn" is excess stomach acid production unrelated to clothes issues but possible related to stress which you may be the source of. Also no antihistamines. You need to feel all your symptoms. Keep the journal. Does ordinary pressure: sitting still, standing, or the seams of your clothes cause pain? Feeling pain when others do not may be hyperalgia or more of a sensitivity than allergy question. If pressure is applied (have someone firmly rub their fingernail across you back) annoy you slightly in the moment then swell into a weal and itch? pressure urticaria can cause you to scratch until a rash forms. Can you wear underpants? Doesn't that elastic waist or leg hem make you crazy? Wool might be the answer for you if its the right wool. Try a medical sheepskin to sleep on and sleep nude with the lightest cover you can. if you sleep well, without medication you are hypersensitive and not allergic. The good news is you'll have your answer. The bad news is there is no remedy. It's who you are and you'll have to manage it. In your case (shirts are a problem and you don't wear pants or they don't bother) the right under shirt during day (pure cotton, silk if your religion allows or merino wool will do the trick. It will prevent your own perspiration having a bad reaction with the shirt fibres if nothing else. Then you can relax and won't have "heartburn". Good luck.

Jul 24, 2011
clothes are creating problem
by: gunjan

all types of clothes are creating problems but synthetic clothes are more effective. Actually when i wear synthetic or some tight clothes, after sometime headache,little swelling on whole body,and some stomach problems starts and many other problems inside a body. so what is this problem? i am not understanding.

Nov 09, 2010
Sensitive Skin Help
by: PlaneJane

I have severe sensitive skin and similiar issues like dry skin and irritation (even red spots to boot). Especially when I shave or use lotion or touch or even look at my skin wrong. Not to mention I have beautiful acne that plagues my face, haha. I have tried multiple things and finally a dermatologist (my fourth one) recommended something that halfway worked. I don't know how he discovered this but he gave me some samples and I use it everyday now. This is the best stuff I have tried so far. Its called Soothing Balm or Soothe, anyway the website is horrible, confusing and not extremely informative. However, I strongly suggest giving it a try if you have sensitive skin. The website is solaroarmour.com, and don't run once you see the website. It is well worth the money for what it does. I hope this works as well for you as it has for me.

Sep 29, 2010
wearing shirts in hot weather
by: Bob

I just can't grab any shirt (like a Polo) and wear it...especially in hot weather. I found some really soft silk shirts that are great. Also wool pants (my Coast Guard uniform were all lined with satin)and shirts are a sure no/no Thank you

Aug 26, 2010
Check with her pediatrician
by: Aveda

Check with her pediatrician for allergies and/or an autism spectrum disorder. Some people are just hyper-sensitive to how their clothing fits, and you just learn to deal with it. My son is 13 1/2 and VERY picky about socks and shoes and how they fit. We have finally worked out which specific brands and styles work for him.

Jul 12, 2010
Some ideas
by: Mashubi

Hi Mohamed, thank you for writing. What fabric are the four shirts that you are wearing now? Do you find the problem is with newer shirts? If so, this may be due to chemicals in the fabric which need to be soaked or washed out.

Sometimes with allergies and sensitivities, it is better to try one new thing at a time rather than to start taking many different supplements all at once. That way you can see how your body responds to the new treatment is helping, or whether it is adding to the problem. Even natural herbs can add to skin problems, and the only way to know is to slow down and try one new thing at a time.

Also, heartburn medications themselves may add to allergic problems by causing side effects. For example, here are some of the active ingredients in some heartburn medications:

Aluminum hydroxide
Magnesium hydroxide
Anitidine hydrochloride
Bismuth Subsalicylate

Most of these also contain artificial colorings and other ingredients which may add to skin irritation. Also some of these like Pepto Bismol contain salicylates which can cause allergies for some people.

The only way to know whether your heartburn medications are adding to the problem is to stop taking them for a while. I know that is difficult when you are in pain. There are natural heartburn remedies you can try using herbs, or by chewing a natural, sugar free gum (one that has xylitol rather than saccharine) which produces saliva which can buffer stomach acid.

I hope these suggestions can be helpful for you Mohamed. Please let me know how these work for you. If anyone else visiting this page has clothing allergies, please let us know what has helped you!

Jul 05, 2010
trying cotton clothes of all types but getting heartburn symptoms
by: mohamed

i am trying my best to get rid of this skin allergy by consuming heartburn reducing tablets, colon cleansing tablets consuming green tea , consuming black seed oil but nothing working for me i got only 4 shirts of particular brand which is now not available for sale now these shirts getting old i am afraid of what wil happen after that please tel me some good ideas

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