Textiles have function of a 'second skin', substituting for the biological properties that other animals have evolved to cope with specific environments on this planet. Thanks to textiles, humans have even been able to enter the most extreme and inhospitable environments, such as interplanetary space.
At the same time, however, dermatologists and consumers have become increasingly aware of the risks garments may cause to human health.
Contact dermatitis is the name given to localised rash or irrittion of the skin caused by the contact with a foreign substance.
When an allergen is involved there is an immune system reaction. The rash can show up a day or two after contact with the allergen. It will usually disappear in a few weeks, even if it is not treated.This is called Allergic Contact Dermatitis ( ACD)
When an irritant is the cause, the rash usually appears right away, possibly damaging the skin. The longer the skin is exposed to the offending substance, the more it will be damaged. The hands are often affected by this type of rash when harsh chemicals and substances are handled. This is Called ICD ( Irritant Contact Dermatitis).
Irritant dermatitis is one concern, but allergic contact dermatitis especially to certain colors used in textiles and to textile finishers even more so. The treatment of textiles or their raw materials with insecticides has alarmed authorities and prompted the industry to set safety standards known as 'eco seals'.
Textile is rated at number 5 of the top ten skin-unfriendly occupations.
At each stage their are irritants or allergens that are a potential cause of dermatitis.
Fibers commonly cause ICD and rerely ACD. The synthetic and wool fibers tend to be the irritants.The process of making yarns and preparation exposes to the irritants such as spinning oil, heat and polyvinyl alcohol.
During weaving the same irritants as in case of spinning apply.
Preparation process also exposes the workers to irritants.
It is dyeing, however, which is the principal cause of Occupational Skin Disease in the industry.The two groups of dyes i.e. reactive and disperse are the most frequest sensitisers.Chemicals and metals used are modants to give color their permanence can be irritants or allergens.
A complete list of Irritants and Allergens in the textile industry is given here.
To conclude, As This site says - "The interaction between textiles and the skin is a close and reciprocal one. Therefore, a mutual exchange must be established between those who create textiles and those who treat skin. Thus a textile engineer must understand basic skin anatomy and microbiology. Similary a demermatologist must need to know about the structure of fibers, fabrics, dyes and finishes."
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