Protecting Your Vulva From Clothing Allergies
Updated: Jun 3
Fact-Checked by: Dr. Tara Scott, OB-GYN
Allergies. Ugh. The itch, the burn, the rashes.
Allergies are one of the most prevalent chronic illnesses worldwide. An estimated 50 million Americans suffer from some type of allergy every year according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). The World Allergy Organization (WAO) reports that between 15-35% of a country’s population is afflicted throughout the globe.
Allergies can start when you’re young, but can also show up at any time during adulthood. Something as simple as a change in location or job can bring on the onset of an allergic reaction. Unfortunately, as widespread as allergies are, it's still an understudied illness.
One particularly understudied area is contact dermatitis. This includes textile or clothing allergies. Genital Allergic Contact Dermatitis is particularly uncomfortable. Yes, ladies, our undies could be the cause of the itch!
So let’s get down to it. What materials should those with sensitive skin be wary of? What are the common symptoms of GACD? How do we shop for relief?
Allergens, the substances, and chemicals that cause our bodies to react vary from person to person. These come in a variety of ways: the air we breathe, our precious pets, and the food we eat to mention just a few. For women who suffer from skin allergies, it's likely the fibers we come into contact with, from the clothing we wear to the towels we use.
Natural fibers, like wool, are often included in material blends and can cause uncomfortable reactions. Synthetic materials: polyester, nylon, and acrylics, as repeat offenders, make up a large amount of clothing-related allergens. The materials are found in the lining and bands around the tops and legs of underwear.
What the fabric is washed in or dyed with is also a very common source of allergic reactions and should be considered.
Dermatologist Dr. Rajani Katta, MD. says that “[t]here are many causes for rashes in the genital area. Some cases may be due to infection [such as yeast or bacterial infections], while others may be due to inflammatory skin conditions or other causes.”
Camilla Bottari, the founder of Eve’s Disclosure, has had sensitive skin from a young age. She also has an allergy to synthetic materials. “When I was a kid, I tried more or less every material to understand which one I was allergic to. Having sensitive skin is not a joke; you often have to try things out to see which one you can tolerate,” she relates.
How do you know if you have an allergy to your undies? GACD shares several symptoms with textile dermatitis. Painful, itchy rashes and redness are the most common reported symptoms.
Camilla remembers “[they] often gave me a rash and created discomfort that led me to develop yeast infection more often. That didn't happen when I was wearing a natural fiber.”
At times, the reactions could be severe enough to be considered life-threatening, such as anaphylactic shock and immediate care should be sought. No matter what your reaction is, a doctor or dermatologist administered patch or another form of allergy test usually will pinpoint the exact reason for your reaction.
Stopping The Itch
How do we stop the itch? First of all, there are some simple ways to combat the itch, recommended by dermatologists as the first line of defense.
Dr. Katta lists six suggestions that you can do right now:
1. Stop using your current soap.
2. Stop any moistened wipes.
3. Stop using any and all over-the-counter medications
4. Stop all current moisturizers.
5. Avoid all fragranced products, including laundry detergent.
It is also important to remember “[i]t can take up to 8 weeks of allergen avoidance for your skin to recover” she states. This can be a vital part of discovering what you are reacting to.
Wearing loose, breathable clothing is also recommended to avoid the moisture that tight-fitting clothing often traps in vulnerable areas, like the groin.
There are many products to consider when choosing how to combat the itch. Research is recommended by dermatologists and allergists to find out what is best for you.
For those shopping for panties that won’t irritate your lady bits, the best choice is TENCEL™ Modal. Eve’s Disclosure utilizes TENCEL™ Modal in its design because it’s more sustainable, eco-friendly, and breathable than cotton. Made from wood pulp, the smooth material forms to your skin and gives you the feeling of wearing nothing at all, allowing you to remain comfortable all day. TENCEL™ Modal material is gentle on the skin, breathable, discourages bacterial growth, and has moisture-management properties, making it the healthiest choice for your vulva.
As a long-time sufferer from sensitive skin and contact allergies, Camilla “wanted to find an alternative to plain cotton, which, yes, is good, but never felt sexy to me or luxurious, and without mention, that uses a crazy amount of water to be made.”
Eve’s Disclosure undies are unique. “The lining is made of silvertech today known as IONIC+ technology. I found this technology while researching the material for excellence that could be an anti-odor,” Camilla says. “Silver has been used since the ancient Greeks to cure wounds and for its antibacterial properties. Now is commonly used in hospitals.”
Camilla believes “it is crucial to divulge as much information as possible, making every woman responsible for their body while they make an active choice with active responsibilities.”
Eve’s Disclosure plans to expand its line of clothing, starting with bras. Take a look at our products in the shop tab.