Friday, January 16, 2015

Allergic to Wool?

I often hear folks admire our wool products and then turn away, sighing, "I'm allergic to wool." There are a few folks who are genuinely allergic to the lanolin in wool. Can't help them, although over time the lanolin washes out and should cause less of a problem.

But the rest of those who are "allergic" to wool may be reacting to something else. The large wool manufacturers need to get a lot of ick out of the raw wool (imagine wearing the same clothes for a year!) and an easy way to do that is to use harsh chemicals. Some of us are simply sensitive to the way commercial wool is produced. Our wool is cleaned using soap and water.

In addition, hay naturally gets in the wool over the course of a year. Each fleece is skirted after shearing, which just means we pull off the worst parts and discard them.

In the washing and carding process at the mill some of the remaining hay comes out of the wool, and some is just broken up into really fine little pieces and continues to be present in the wool. You may not see it, but you may be itching because of the microscopic bits of hay that remain. I can remember being itchy all day as a kid when I wore a wool sweater--even through the turtleneck underneath! So I am sympathetic when folks tell me they're allergic to wool. I get it. But please don't dismiss a wonderful resource just because of a bad experience. 

Socks are a great thing for people who are sensitive (but not truly allergic), because we have less sensitive nerve endings in our feet than we do, say, around our necks. I am able to wear our socks with no problem at all.

So--are you allergic to wool? Or just sensitive?

*Originally posted on October 7, 2010. Updated. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm neither allergic to wool or sensitive to wool.

    I love my Shady Side Farm wool socks!!!


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