A few days ago, an acquaintance had an allergic reaction to a new item of clothing.
She had a blood irritation in her armpits. She had just bought a t-shirt that she wanted to wear for an event and didn't take the time to wash it.
Even if we really want, and this is often the case with children, to wear new clothing without washing it first, this is not a good idea because it can be a source of allergies.
New and unwashed clothing can cause irritant dermatitis, resulting for example in patches and redness. In addition, depending on the type of skin, the type of chemical molecules and their concentration, certain individuals can develop allergic dermatoses. It can even lead to eczema and burns.
But how can a fabric attack the skin and be allergenic?
It is true that some people may have allergies directly associated with fiber. This is the case for wool, for example. However, this is not at all the main source of reactions. This relates more to the chemicals used in the making of a fabric.
In the textile sector, a finish is a finishing treatment which gives the textile the desired final appearance. To make it brighter for example. This therefore means a modification of the textile fibers resulting from a chemical action. It is therefore likely that unwashed clothing contains traces of these substances.
Depending on the molecules used, dyes can also cause allergenic reactions. The largest fabric manufacturing countries have few or no regulations associated with dye toxicity and when they do, they have no enforcement. For example, azo dyes are very toxic and although they are banned in China, they are widely used there.
Of course, when we buy clothes in busy stores, it is very likely that they have been tried on by others before us. They can therefore carry certain communicable diseases such as influenza and meningitis.
And what about cancer in all this?
It is likely that the chemicals found in our clothing are a potential source of cancer, particularly of the skin. However, there are currently no scientific studies that demonstrate with certainty that clothing toxicity is associated with cancer.
What to do to avoid risks?
You may be thinking that the first instinct you should have is to wash your new clothes before wearing them? There is an error here.
The first thing to do is to favor clothes that have been dyed here, according to Canadian regulations.
We can also ensure that the clothing we have purchased carries OEKO-TEX® certification. This certification ensures that the desired garment does not contain chemicals.
Next, you should actually wash your clothes at least once before wearing them. It is even recommended to do a second rinse to maximize our chances of eliminating unwanted products.