Friday, October 24, 2014

Thursday, May 22, 2008 jclontz, Community Member, asks

Q: How do I know if I am allergic to the chemicals and dyes in clothing/fabric?

I work in a large department store and when I work with clothing for long periods of time my eyes get red and watery, the skin around my nose and mouth turns red and feels irritated and tongue has a funny taste on it somewhat metallic.

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Answers (3)
JB, Editor
5/22/08 5:46pm

Chemicals rarely cause true allergies.


Dr. James Thompson wrote about the difference between allergens and irritants in his blog. Allergic reactions are typically triggered by organic substances -- pollen, food, mold spores, dust mites, animal and cockroach dander and feathers, for example. Allergens can cause white blood cells to make IgE antibody. That is what makes them allergic trigger factors.


Synthetic chemicals, generally, do not stimulate IgE antibody production. Thus, they are not allergens, but irritants. Irritants also include smoke, odors, fumes and other chemicals. They irritate the inner surface of the nose, eyes, throat, or lung.

There are a few chemicals involved with plastics and paints that may cause allergic sensitivity (TDI and TMA, specifically).


The chemicals and dyes you are exposed to at work may very well be causing your symptoms -- but they may not be allergic reactions.


If you don't wear safety goggless or a mask, you may want to try them to see if that helps your symptoms. Most importantly, tell your doctor just what you're exposed to and the symptoms you experience.

Brian, Community Member
9/29/08 12:33pm

I am allergic to dyes and I get rashes all over my skin if I am allergic to it.  Everyone displays symptoms differently, so you may be allergic also.  For anyone that does have dye allergies, I found some great socks online.  They are called Therasock Double Sock System.  It really is ingenious.  It's made of 2 socks.  The inside is white and dye free, so allergies and the outside is colored, so it looks like a regular sock.  I can finally wear black socks with my dress shoes!  I got them at and the website is  If you have dye allergies, you have to try this sock!

Banana, Community Member
11/ 8/08 10:10am

If you find an answer to your question, let me know..I have lots of allergies, but when I go is miserable...Target, Wamart, Kohl's etc..My eyes become dry, itchy, burning..and by the time I leave my eyes are red and itchy... I carry wetting grops with me and am continually using them in a store. Lynn

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By jclontz, Community Member— Last Modified: 06/13/12, First Published: 05/22/08