Could I possibly be allergic? To a fleece blanket?
November 12, 2010 5:07 PM   Subscribe

We bought this blanket and put it on our bed. We do not use a flat sheet nor do I *ahem* wear pajamas, so the blanket was right next to my skin. Pretty much everywhere the blanket touched for any period of time, but especially on my thighs and upper arms, I broke out in a bumpy rash. It itches a little, but is as unsightly as all get-out. And it's taking forever to fade. I washed and dried the blanket, and that made no noticeable difference. There have been no other notable changes -- laundry detergent, soap, lotions, etc. all the same -- so it seems like the blanket must be the culprit. I know YANMD, and I probably won't even consult with my doctor because really, what is he going to say? What I'm hoping is you'll have some answers or suggestions for me. Could there be some additive that's causing the allergic reaction? Is there anything I can do to the blanket that will Make.It.Stop?
posted by DrGail to Health & Fitness (25 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What you can do to the blanket to make this stop is to put a sheet beneath it.
posted by devbrain at 5:18 PM on November 12, 2010 [3 favorites]

Stop using the blanket.

Try some cortisone cream. Or see a dermatologist.
posted by radioamy at 5:31 PM on November 12, 2010

The reason I don't use a top sheet in the first place is that it gets all tangled up during the night (Thanks, Mr DrGail!) and makes it tough for me to sleep. And to make matters worse, then I'd be back in direct contact with the blanket again.
posted by DrGail at 5:38 PM on November 12, 2010

There could be an additive that's causing the allergic reaction, but without going to the dermatologist, telling them what happened, and getting a patch test (which may or may not yield helpful results), you might never find out. I would recommend seeing if you are able to return the blanket to the store, explaining what happened. If a salesperson doesn't take it back, try to speak with a manager.
posted by wondermouse at 5:38 PM on November 12, 2010

If it does that to you, then get rid of it. (And don't buy another like it.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:38 PM on November 12, 2010

This is a shot in the dark but the blanket could be treated (or even made) with a fire retardant chemical that is causing this problem or it could just be the Polartec itself. It could also have been improperly made or stored or encountered some chemical in shipment. Hard to tell without CSI level testing.

If that rash doesn't clear up in a week or two, go see a doctor. Yeah its just a rash but if you've already had it for "forever", err on the side of caution. (I'm assuming that you've tried calamine and other OTC rash remedies - if they aren't helping, you need a pro to look at it.)

As for the blanket, use it for guests or donate it as long as the other "we" in your relationship isn't also having skin issues. Why bother trying to use it when you could never be sure it was safe for you?
posted by jaimystery at 5:40 PM on November 12, 2010

Yeoch, contact dermatitis? Seriously, get rid of the blanket. I assumed it's been washed so nothing you can do about it.

You will be taking benadryl and using a topical steroid. To hopefully get yourself less itchy and splotchy.
posted by jadepearl at 5:42 PM on November 12, 2010

If you're really keen on keeping the offending blanket, maybe slip a duvet cover over it?
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 5:55 PM on November 12, 2010 [4 favorites]

the blanket could be treated (or even made) with a fire retardant chemical that is causing this problem or it could just be the Polartec itself. It could also have been improperly made or stored or encountered some chemical in shipment.

Things like this do happen—and it's not likely to get much better. I have one item of clothing (a basic cotton-poly blend) that was once a staple of my wardrobe, and at some point it came into contact with some unknown something, and ever since then, it's made my skin itch every time I wear it. Every so often I run out of laundry and figure I'll give it a try again, thinking whatever was on it might've washed away, but even after about five years and many washes, it still makes me itch. I've never had a problem with anything else made of the same material.
posted by limeonaire at 6:00 PM on November 12, 2010

It's either contact dermatitis from something in the blanket, or chafing from the blanket itself. You could attempt to get the blanket into a duvet cover. The feel of polarfleece on my skin makes my teeth hurt; I would have abrasions if I wore it next to my skin.

My husband and I use separate top sheets, I don't know if that would solve your sheet problem.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:55 PM on November 12, 2010

Dump the blanket. You don't have to toss it of course - you might be able to use it on the couch or what have you. I've found I can't sleep in fleece, myself - wearing it as outerwear is fine, but I think 7-9 hours of being right up against it is just too irritating and I wake up itchy.
posted by cobaltnine at 6:59 PM on November 12, 2010

My son had some allergy flare ups when he was preschool age, and I found that he would react to fleece right next to his skin. If he wore a fleece jacket over a tee problem. If he wore fleece sweats with nothing between the fleece and his skin...reaction. Just a thought
posted by Rapunzel1111 at 7:03 PM on November 12, 2010

It could also be the dye in the blanket, which will make you react forever as long as the blanket is still that colour. So yeah, looks like you need a new blanket!

The bumpy rash sounds just like my contact dermatitis by the way. It sometimes reacts to really weird things I've never reacted to before, and stopping the contact is pretty much the only way to stop the reaction. If it doesn't go away then see a pharmacist or doctor for some mild steroid cream, or try taking some antihistamines.
posted by shelleycat at 7:13 PM on November 12, 2010

I had a similar issue with a blanket I bought years ago.
I washed it about half a dozen times (I used it as a top blanket over sheets) and the itching stopped.
I figured it was something like dye or additives that I eventually washed out.
posted by KogeLiz at 7:25 PM on November 12, 2010

It's not unusual to get a rash from fleece; fleece doesn't breathe at all, so if your skin is in contact with it at night and you get even a little bit warm, it's going to cause problems. Some people are more sensitive than others. If I were you, I'd either return it to Bed, Bath, and Beyond (their return policy is pretty generous) or give it away. Whatever you replace it with, make sure it has at least some type of breathable fabric in the mix. I like cotton jersey (a.k.a. tee shirt sheets), especially in the winter; it's just as warm as flannel, without the annoying propensity to make you sweat.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 7:41 PM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am definitely anti-top sheet myself, but there are lots of awesome blankets out there that won't make you itch! BBB does have a good return policy.
posted by radioamy at 8:04 PM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

As mentioned, you could be allergic to the dye. What color is it? This page has some info on textile dyes used for dark colors (especially on 100% polyester) and contact dermatitis.
posted by prenominal at 8:58 PM on November 12, 2010

Why not call the manufacturer, Berkshire Blanket? Ask them for advice. Worst thing they could do is hang up on you.
posted by AugustWest at 8:58 PM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

What's your experience before with polyester? It gives me a rash.
posted by brujita at 9:29 PM on November 12, 2010

there are two things you can do here:

1. make sure the blanket really is the culprit. try a different blanket for a while and see if it helps. if you're having a reaction to the blanket and keep using the blanket, that's probably why the reaction isn't going away.

2. whether or not you clearly identify the blanket as the culprit, see a doctor. it's possible that the rash is recognizable (to a doctor, if not a casual observer) as something easily addressed. or, if not, at least you can probably get a prescription for a steroid to help clear the rash up more quickly.
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:10 AM on November 13, 2010

Seconding contacting the manufacturer. They may take it back and possibly offer a suitable replacement, if that's what you want.
posted by SoftSummerBreeze at 7:06 AM on November 13, 2010

Sew a large flat sheet to the blanket's underside.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:02 AM on November 13, 2010

My mother in law has several sets of covers for all the blankets in the house. Essentially, you need a pillowcase for your blanket. This solves the contact with your skin problem, as well as the sheets getting tangled up at night problem.
posted by bardophile at 9:15 AM on November 13, 2010

Seconding checking out a sensitivity to polyester. Mr. metaphorical is allergic to it. 100% cotton or bamboo is what we use on our bed now.
posted by metaphorical at 5:02 PM on November 13, 2010

I have major problems with contact dermatitis, and I have to tell you that doctors have been exactly zero help with it. I've also tried contacting manufacturers to find out what they've treated their fabrics with and have had no success with that either. Trial and error and reading labels are what have helped me. I would replace the blanket with something that breathes; if you want to go for something that is the least likely to irritate your skin, I would look for undyed organic cotton. I doubt that's necessary in this case, though, considering that this is your first reaction of this kind.

I wonder, though, if the blanket really is the problem; it could be something like the detergent you're using to wash your clothes. Fabric softener is also a common irritant. Remember that a product you've used for years can suddenly start to irritate your skin or cause an allergic reaction. This is not at all unusual.

Feel free to e-mail me if I can help at all. All the best to you.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 10:06 PM on November 13, 2010

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