What are Bras?
Bras, also known as brassieres, are women’s undergarment designed to support the weight of breasts. Each bra is composed of two cups designed to fit each breast; a chest band that wraps around the torso and closed in the back by a hook and an eye fastener; and shoulder straps. They are usually manufactured in different sizes depending on varying sizes of women’s breast, styles, designs and usage around the world, such as sporting bras, sleep bras, or nursing bras.
What Causes Bra Allergies?
Today, many brands of bras are manufactured from a variety of textile materials, particularly synthetic fibers such as polyester, spandex, latex, or nylon. This involves the use of different toxic chemicals in the textile industrial processes such as cleaning, dyeing, or bleaching in the making of finished synthetic fabrics. Latex and spandex are commonly used for their strength, durability, and elasticity to make chest bands and shoulder straps for most of the conventional bras. The nickel found in bra clasps and straps, as well as toxic chemicals from the synthetic fabrics materials like polyester bras contain allergens that can irritate the skin and trigger allergic reactions to many sensitive women.
Who is at Risk?
Every woman wearing brands of bras is at risk of developing the associated allergies. Wearing the wrong size, especially tight bras with elastic latex or spandex shoulder straps and chest bands increase the risks of skin contact with irritants. Women sensitive to other different allergies, such as insect bites, certain foods, dust or chemicals are more likely to experience allergic reactions related to bras.
Allergic reactions to bras may range from mild to severe symptoms. The most common symptoms include swelling, itching, reddening, drying, and scaling of the skin. The red rashes and cracks appear on skin areas in contact with the bra around the breasts, shoulders, neck, belly, and the back. Later, the allergies may spread down to other body parts (eczema) including the hips, thighs, legs, and the arms. In some severe cases, the rashes may crack and open into bleeding sores, resulting in increased risks of secondary skin infections, such as psoriasis.
Diagnosis and Prevention
The allergist or dermatologists diagnose bra allergies using the results of the physical exams and based on your medical history about the allergic conditions. Blood and skin patch tests may be carried out to identify the specific allergens in the bra causing your allergic reactions and rule out other skin conditions with similar symptoms such as atopic dermatitis. Since there is no known cure for allergies, topical corticosteroid creams may be prescribed to ease irritation and itching.
However, you can avoid and prevent the risks of allergic reactions to the skin by only wearing allergic-free bras. Ensure that you only choose and purchase the right size of bra made of 100% naturally-organic cotton for your comfort by confirming the labels of the manufacturers.
American Contact Dermatitis Society. (2017). Contact Dermatitis and Patch Testing. Retrieved on 5th, September 2017 http://www.acderm.com/Patchtesting.pdf
Chen, C. M., LaBat, K., & Bye, E. (2010). “Physical Characteristics Related to Bra Fit”. Ergonomics. 53 (4): 514–24.
Healthise. (2017). “Everything About Bra: Bra Itches and Prevention.” Retrieved on 5th, September 2017 from http://healthise.com/women-issues-3/everything-about-bra-bra-itches-and-prevention/
Nicholas, S. (June 2013). “Why You Could Be Allergic To Your Bra: Nickel In Coins Has Caused A Surge In Eczema.” Retrieved on 5th, September 2017 from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2344658/Why-allergic-bra-Nickel-coins-caused-surge-eczema-But-thats-just-start-.html
Orange Lingerie. (October 2014). Guide to Bra Making Materials. Retrieved on 5th, September 2017 from https://www.orange-lingerie.com/your-guide-to-bra-making-materials/
WebMD. (2017). Contact Dermatitis: Facts About Skin Rashes. Retrieved on 5th, September 2017 http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/contact-dermatitis#1