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.


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".


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)."