How do I deal with super-sensitive skin?
March 2, 2009 8:06 PM   Subscribe

What resources are out there for people with super-sensitive skin? I seem to develop a new allergy every month or so. My latest rash is located everywhere my bra touches my skin, so I'm particularly interested in undyed, unbleached organic cotton bras.

Over the past year and a half, my skin has become more and more sensitive. I get rashes from most creams and lotions, toothpastes, makeup, soaps, perfumed laundry detergent and dryer sheets, etc., etc. The only toilet paper I can use is Seventh Generation. Now I have a problem with the bras I wear; I bought two new Barely There bras and developed big red welts everywhere they touched my skin. I went back to wearing my older Barely There bras and the rash went away, but it seems to be returning. I've been searching but haven't been able to find unbleached, undyed organic cotton underwire bras in my size (38-40 B or C). And I'm also just looking for any websites, books, or other resources you've found for people with super-sensitive skin. There must be other people that have skin problems like mine, and I need all the information and help in dealing with all this that I can get.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This is the best 'sensitive-skin clothing' I've ever bought:

I have eczema and have had it for my entire life- when it gets really bad, I wear their shirts with mitten-things attached.

Anyway, they make underwear! Unfortunately, I only see underwire-free bras, but maybe something there will work out for you.
posted by rachaelfaith at 8:15 PM on March 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Check out Decent Exposures. It doesn't hit all your characteristics, but they offer organic cotton, and they are remarkably open to special requests.
posted by booksherpa at 8:15 PM on March 2, 2009

Best answer: I work for an organic clothing company (we don't make underclothes), but we often recommend The Green Pages to people looking for items that don't have synthetics (you may have sensitivity to Lycra/Spandex/Rubber, etc.).

In the mean time, you can also try a lotion/balm on the area that is having issues i.e., diaper rash creme that would give you a barrier - if you have a preferred laundry detergent that doesn't cause issues, check if they have baby products. Good luck. Many people that have chemical/fabric sensitivities tend to have escalating issues.
posted by blackkar at 8:40 PM on March 2, 2009

Check out your laundry detergent as well. It could be te problem.
posted by theora55 at 10:34 PM on March 2, 2009

Is the trigger the bra fabric or the elastic? My skin reacts to the elastic in the band part of most bras, and I've found that Bali "Passion for Comfort" bras cover all the elastic with a nylon layer and that stops the irritation. If it's the synthetic fabric, then these will not work for you.
posted by zepheria at 11:00 AM on March 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Are you crafty at all? Angry Chicken and Fehr Trade have both posted recently about making their own bras and underwear, and it doesn't sound super difficult, assuming you know some sewing.
posted by min at 12:14 PM on March 3, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks, everybody, for all the great suggestions! I appreciate your help more than I can say.

theora55: You're right, I do have a problem with detergent as well. I had a rash on my breasts that went away once I went to unscented detergent and dryer sheets. It came back when I started wearing the new bras.

zepheria: I think the reaction is due to something that the fabric has been treated with, because the rash is all over my breasts and on my back where the band rests (the red stripe on my back is the same size and shape as the band).

min: Thank you so much for those links! I've been thinking that I'm probably going to have to start making them since nobody seems to make what I'm looking for in my size. Luckily, I am a sewer, so I'm going to look in the Green Pages for some appropriate fabric.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 6:20 PM on March 3, 2009

Response by poster: Does anybody here have any websites or books that they can recommend to me regarding this problem? I've searched a bit and haven't found anything very helpful. I always seem to wind up on "multiple chemical sensitivity" websites, but they're a bit heavy on the woo for me. I'd prefer something more science-based, maybe written by an allergist or dermatologist? My own allergist has been less than helpful; he told me I'm allergic to chromium, nickel, and EDD, which is great but doesn't explain why I can't use regular toilet paper. All these skin problems have become a very frustrating and isolating problem for me, and it's difficult to not feel like I'm some sort of freak.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 6:30 PM on March 3, 2009

Best answer: I can't use dryer sheets of any kind. Instead, I use the nubby rubber dryer balls, and they work splendidly (of course if you're latex-sensitive, which I mercifully am not, they aren't going to be a solution.)

This is the only undyed cotton underwire bra of which I am aware. It's not a bad bra at all in terms of comfort, despite dowdy.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:55 PM on March 3, 2009

I hate to say, but I think you may have to really weed through the woo to get to any information (and it will be mostly anecdotal). We get a lot of calls, and a lot of stories, and a lot of photos of people with chemical/fabric sensitivities that are searching for information, products, help of any sort. It's heartbreaking.

I recommend joining some forums and trying to connect with others that have similar symptoms and try to self diagnose. Many people find conventional medicine very limiting when it comes right down to it. Also, I don't know were you are located, but you may consider looking into an Integrative/Alternative Medicine doctor - they are becoming more available through large teaching hospitals.
posted by blackkar at 2:21 PM on March 4, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks so much for your suggestion, Sidhedevil--I've just ordered one. It was necessary, but yikes--$46 for one bra! And it was backordered. : (

I'm afraid you're probably right, blackkar; I don't know that conventional medicine has shown much interest in this problem, so people tend to turn to the woo. I'm going to stick to the evidence-based treatments (if there are any). What I might do is to have a heart-to-heart with my GP and see if he can refer me to an allergist or dermatologist with some experience in this type of problem.

Thanks again, everybody; you've been very, very helpful.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 7:32 PM on March 4, 2009

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