clothing contact dermatitis

Allergen, Not An Allergen, Featured, Skin

CANVAS: Allergen or Not An Allergen?Featured

CANVAS: Allergen or Not An Allergen?

Not An Allergen.


Strictly speaking, canvas is not an allergen. However, as anyone with clothing contact dermatitis will tell you, it’s not that simple either. Most cloths are treated in some way, and most ways are allergenic. The most common treatments for fabrics include: formaldehyde, various preservatives, dyes, bleaches, chlorine, and “mordants” (metals used to help dyes adhere better to fabric).

If you can find a canvas that is unprocessed or minimally processed — as close to natural or “raw” as possible — it can be a great fabric for sensitive skin. Avoid blues, reds, and bright colors. Bright white canvas is also less ideal as it is indicative of bleaching and other processing. And, because rough textures and elastics can also cause problems, opt for loose, breathable designs that would have less contact with skin.

TIP: If you have sensitive skin, when you first purchase clothing, bags, towels or linens, wash them two to three times with an allergen-free laundry soap before using them. If you share a washing machine, you may need to rinse it a few times first with just water to remove residue from other laundry detergents.

If you think you might have contact dermatitis, ask your dermatologist for a patch test. If they suspect clothing, they may use a specific patch test tray with more allergens related to clothing materials and dyes.

Regularly published reports on the most common allergens by the North American Contact Dermatitis Group and European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (based on over 28,000 patch test results, combined), plus other studies. Remember, we are all individuals — just because an ingredient is not on the most common allergen lists does not mean you cannot be sensitive to it, or that it will not become an allergen. These references, being based on so many patch test results, are a good basis but it is always best to get a patch test yourself.

1. Warshaw, E.M., Maibach, H.I., Taylor, J.S., et al. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012. Dermatitis. 2015; 26: 49-59
2. W Uter et al. The European Baseline Series in 10 European Countries, 2005/2006–Results of the European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (ESSCA). Contact Dermatitis 61 (1), 31-38.7 2009
3. Wetter, DA et al. Results of patch testing to personal care product allergens in a standard series and a supplemental cosmetic series: An analysis of 945 patients from the Mayo Clinic Contact Dermatitis Group, 2000-2007. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Nov;63(5):789-98.
4. Verallo-Rowell VM. The validated hypoallergenic cosmetics rating system: its 30-year evolution and effect on the prevalence of cosmetic reactions. Dermatitis 2011 Apr; 22(2):80-97
5. Ruby Pawankar et al. World Health Organization. White Book on Allergy 2011-2012 Executive Summary.
6. Misery L et al. Sensitive skin in the American population: prevalence, clinical data, and role of the dermatologist. Int J Dermatol. 2011 Aug;50(8):961-7.
7. Warshaw EM1, Maibach HI, Taylor JS, Sasseville D, DeKoven JG, Zirwas MJ, Fransway AF, Mathias CG, Zug KA, DeLeo VA, Fowler JF Jr, Marks JG, Pratt MD, Storrs FJ, Belsito DV. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012.Dermatitis. 2015 Jan-Feb;26(1):49-59.
8. Warshaw, E et al. Allergic patch test reactions associated with cosmetics: Retrospective analysis of cross-sectional data from the North American Contact Dermatitis Group, 2001-2004. J AmAcadDermatol 2009;60:23-38. 
9. Foliaki S et al. Antibiotic use in infancy and symptoms of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema in children 6 and 7 years old: International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood Phase III. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Nov;124(5):982-9.
10. Kei EF et al. Role of the gut microbiota in defining human health. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2010 Apr; 8(4): 435–454.
11. Thavagnanam S et al. A meta-analysis of the association between Caesarean section and childhood asthma. Clin Exp Allergy. 2008;38(4):629–633.

12. Marks JG, Belsito DV, DeLeo VA, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch-test results, 1998 to 2000. Am J Contact Dermat. 2003;14(2):59-62.
13. Warshaw EM, Belsito DV, Taylor JS, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch test results: 2009 to 2010. Dermatitis. 2013;24(2):50-99.

For more:

On the prevalence of skin allergies, see Skin Allergies Are More Common Than Ever and One In Four Is Allergic to Common Skin Care And Cosmetic Ingredients.

To learn more about the VH-Rating System and hypoallergenicity, click here.

Featured, Skin

Fix Your Skin With…Laundry Soap?: 30-Day Healthy Skin ChallengeFeatured

Don’t let laundry become even more of a pain.

Yup, even your laundry can affect your skin.
Common culprits in laundry detergent that can contribute to chronic rashes, itching, acne and even hyperpigmentation include fragrance and preservatives.
If your skin problems just don’t seem to be getting better, even after a proper diagnosis, careful prevention and targeted treatments, check your laundry soap.
To learn more about how your laundry can help or hurt your skin, and about clothing contact dermatitis, check out Take A Walk On The Mild Side: Skin-Friendly Laundry.

Family Blog, Featured, Healthy Living, Skin

How can I make doing laundry a little more allergy free?Featured

Q:What do you recommend for laundry? I know you make a laundry product though I have not had a chance to try it yet. I guess what I’m really asking is how do you do YOUR laundry? Do you use bleach? If so, which one? Do you use fabric softener? Dryer sheets? Can you recommend any products or ways to make doing laundry a little more allergy free?

– Anonymous from Tumblr/VMVHypoallergenics

A: Hi there, we do indeed make a laundry product 🙂 It’s called Fawn & Launder.

My mom (VMV Hypoallergenics‘ founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist) formulated it for her clients with clothing contact dermatitis and in my personal household, we can’t use anything else. If we do, my 8yo begins itching and stinging immediately, and more in the undergarment regions so it’s very uncomfortable. My husband stings, itches and gets hyperpigmentation (darkening) of the underarms and skin around the neck. I itch like a madwoman in the scalp (where my head most comes into contact with my pillowcase), underarms, around the neck, and under my lower bra strap.
When Fawn & Launder is out of stock, we use Essence Superwash. To use Essence Superwash or Clark Wash for laundry:
Regular Cycle, Front Load, 2 to 2.5 capfuls = 32 washes
Regular Cycle, Top load, 5 to 5.5 capfuls = 16 washes
Hand Wash 1 to 1.5 capful = 64 washes
Bleach, we use occasionally but my mother is allergic to it, so she can’t. None of us uses fabric softener or dryer sheets.

The basic tips we share for more allergy-free laundering are:

1) Get a patch test.

As you can see from my own story above, we all react in different ways and in different areas. My mother is sensitive to bleach, we’re not, and we can tolerate fragrance less than she can. Far better than random trial and error or guesswork, a patch test can show you exactly what to avoid.

2) Avoid your allergens.

Once you know the specific ingredients that you need to avoid, Fawn & Launder may work well for you as it’s free of all published allergens. BUT, if your patch test says you’re really only sensitive to, say, fragrance, you now have a much wider selection. Several brands make “free” versions that are free of scents or fragrance (look for ingredients not called fragrance, however, that are also cross reactants like propolis, benzyl alcohol and cinnamic alcohol).
3) Avoid your allergens in drying products, too.
The same applies to dryer sheets and fabric softeners…avoid the stuff with your allergens. Remember that “natural” versions may not be better. Many organic, natural substances are also natural allergens (strawberries, peanuts, pollen, fragrance, etc.). If you’re allergic to these, you need to avoid them, no matter how natural they are. Again, why the patch test is so powerful…so you avoid only what you need to.
4) Clothing contact dermatitis isn’t just about laundry products…you could be reacting to something in the clothing itself.
Indigo in jeans is a very common culprit. If your patch test shows sensitivity to nickel or other metals, you might want to stick to pure cotton and other natural textiles. These absorb colorants better so manufacturers don’t tend to use “mordants” (which have metals), which are chemicals added to synthetic cloth to help dyes and colors bind to it better. Bright colors — reds, purples, vibrant shades — tend to also be culprits if you’re sensitive to dyes. And, elastics, spandex, rubber are common allergens, too. If this is a suspicion, your doctor may use an expanded patch test tray for you. And, there’s a great underwear and basic clothing company called Cottonique that can help (we did a clinical study for them with their clothing and our laundry shampoo).
5) Prep your machine before your first wash.
Another poster on Tumblr shared her thoughts

“I just started to use the Fawn & Launder. I paid attention to what you posted about doing laundry (a big Thank You to the person who asked about that!) and I only used the Fawn & Launder and nothing else. I even “washed” the washing machine with it first to make sure there wasn’t any residue from my former products. I am really impressed with Fawn & Launder so far! It cleans well, no nasty scent and somehow it seemed to eliminate static in the dryer! I have to ask – how is that possible?!?”

…which leads to this 5th tip: “wash” your washing machine with Fawn & Launder, our hypoallergenic laundry detergent, before doing your first load! A big reason why we make our own products (we don’t outsource) is to ensure that vats or mixers used for our products aren’t also used for storing or mixing formulations with fragrance or other allergens. This is much the same principle. This is a great way to start on a more allergy-free laundry experience!

We hope this helps! And if you’d like more direct help, anyone on our team in NYC is a phone call away at (212) 217 2762 🙂
Laura, VMV Hypoallergenics CEO

Check out VMV Hypoallergenics on Tumblr now.