Ask The Allergista: My baby seems to have a Polyester allergy. What should I do?

Q: You seem to maybe have some answers I am looking for.  My 7 month old son seems to have an allergy to polyester.  So my question is:  Do we need to avoid all synthetic fibers (nylon, acrylic, spandex, lycra)?  Also, what about elastics and is there often a cross reactivity to latex (we haven't noticed one, but wanted to know if I should be watching for)?  The only fiber we are certain of the reaction, which is a red rash that I would assume itches, is polyester as that is what bunches of the baby toys, clothes and blankets are made of (not to mention disposable diapers).  Anyway, it may have been a long-shot contacting you, but from what I have read you seem to know your stuff when it comes to allergies to synthetic fibers.  Thanks for your help.

A:

I'm so sorry that your poor baby is having to deal with this!

I still have to undergo the patch testing for fabrics myself. I discovered my polyester allergy after sleeping on some 100% polyester sheets. There were a billion tiny red raised bumps all over the front of my body because I was sleeping on my stomach aaand it was pretty itchy. I also reacted those cheap stick-on counter tops - polyester is in those as well.

I still have more to learn about all of this, but here are my answers to your questions:

  • Given that I know there is patch testing for a whole bunch of different fabrics, I would say that means a person could be allergic to just one or a combination of many types of fabrics. I haven't been able to completely nail down my reactions to other synthetic fabrics, but a little bit of elastane here and there seems to be ok with me. I wear 100% cotton, but I have a couple tops that have 3% or 5% elastane.
  • Spandex is the same thing as Lycra and elastane
  • This is what Polyester is: polyethylene terephthalate
  • This is what Spandex is: polyurethane-polyurea copolymer
  • I have definitely noticed that I react to the elastics on underwear.I really only react to the traditional elastics on women's underwear. Victoria's Secret has some that don't bother me. It's from their PINK line.
  • I haven't noticed that I have any reactions to latex, but one of my doctors told me to avoid it

I plan on getting the patch testing for fabrics done in 2013, so when I do, I will make sure to post the results!

I've noticed that there are a lot of cotton items online for babies, so definitely start to search around there. Jessica Alba started a company called "The Honest Company".

Honest_Company

It looks like they make some diapers without polyester:

"Chlorine-free fluff (paper from CERTIFIED sustainably managed forests – no optical brighteners), BIO-core (wheat/corn starch blended with SAP), plant-based PLA (in outer layer, inner layer, & moisture barrier layer), Non-Toxic adhesives (in seams & joints), polymer spandex and polyurethane (in fastening system & leg/waist elastic) & ink (no heavy metals)."

You can get a free trial of their diapers here.

I hope this helps!! Give your baby a hug for me! :-) And please let me know how those diapers work out if you try them.

**UPDATE from the reader about the diapers:

"We tried the honest diapers before, but backed off due to cost after the free trial.  I may go back to them. Turns out the Honest diapers are polyester free. However, all regularly commercially available cotton cloth diapers are surged and sewn with polyester thread (probably not a big deal because of how little touches them, but thought it was worth knowing)."