Underwear Allergies

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What are Underwear Allergies?

Underwear, also known as undergarments, consists of clothing usually worn next to the skin by pulling them past the feet and upwards to the waist to cover or hide the private parts lying underneath.  It is usually worn under other outer clothing like shorts, trousers, skirts or dresses, particularly as boxers by men and panties or bras by women, respectively.  Allergy to underwear is contact dermatitis or rashes that occur in areas of the skin in contact with the underwear.

What Causes Underwear Allergies?

Whether you are a man or woman, underwear allergies equally affect anyone around the world regardless of age or race. Allergic reactions are caused by skin allergens found on the textile material used to make the different design, types, and parts of underwear for men and women. Allergies may also result from the elastic spandex or latex material used in the waist band and leg openings of conventional underwear. Some people may be sensitive to synthetic underwear materials like polyester or nylon, and skin irritants used on the materials such as dyes, preservatives, or chemicals found in laundry washing and bleaching detergents. Others may experience allergic reactions from poor routine hygiene practices, such as prolonged use of one pair of underwear without cleaning, wearing wet underwear, continuous use of deodorant soaps, use of fabric conditioners or perfumes on skin areas covered by underwear.


Most symptoms of underwear allergies are manifested by itching, swelling, inflammation, burning sensation, and painful skin rashes. The irritating rashes appear on private parts, buttocks, waistline, part of the thighs in contact with the underwear’s leg openings, as well as on shoulders, back, chest or breast areas covered by bras in women. With no treatment, the rashes may spread to other body parts that may come in contact, especially when wearing or removing the underwear. In severe cases, painful blisters, red lesions, or sores may develop in the skin leading to other secondary skin infections.

Diagnosis and Prevention

If you experience underwear allergies, it is vital to seek medical attention for proper diagnosis, treatment, and prevention measures. The allergist or dermatologist performs a skin patch test to determine the specific allergen on underwear causing the allergic reactions. Blood tests may also be conducted to help in excluding other possible skin conditions presenting similar symptoms to underwear allergies such as psoriasis, lichen planus, genital herpes, or other STIs. Topical treatments using anti-inflammatory drugs and hydrocortisone cream or lotions may be prescribed to relieve itching and prevent inflammations on the skin.

The best treatment and prevention measure against underwear allergies is strict avoidance of synthetic materials and chemicals found on conventional underwear. You can also avoid the use of deodorant soaps, perfumes, detergents, fabric conditioners, or bleaching agents when cleaning and rinsing your underwear clothing. Adhering to daily routine personal care hygiene practices, such as wearing the right size of clean and fully dried underwear may prevent the risks of skin irritation or yeast/fungi infections, especially around private parts. You can also avoid the risk of allergies by ensuring that you only purchase and wear allergic-free underwear made of 100% naturally-organic cotton by confirming the manufacturer’s labels.



American Latex Allergy Association. (March 1999). Cotton, Nylon, Spandex and Allergies. Retrieved on 7th, September 2017 from http://latexallergyresources.org/articles/cotton-nylon-spandex-and-allergies

Fox News Network. (February, 2017). Can You Be Allergic To Your Underwear?  Retrieved on 7th, September 2017 from http://www.foxnews.com/health/2017/02/10/can-be-allergic-to-your-underwear.html

Healthline. (February 2017). What’s Causing This Rash on My Genitals? Retrieved on 7th, September 2017 from http://www.healthline.com/health/rash-on-genitals#overview1

Jordan W. P. and Bourlas, M. C. (May 1975). Allergic Contact Dermatitis To Underwear Elastic- Chemically Transformed by Laundry Bleach. Arch Dermatol, 111(5):593-5.

Mamapedia. (March 2011). Allergic to Underwear? Retrieved on 7th, September 2017 from https://www.mamapedia.com/article/allergic-to-underwear

Stevens, D. (August 2017). Symptoms of an Allergy to Clothing. http://www.livestrong.com/article/547341-symptoms-of-an-allergy-to-clothing/

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