Washing new clothes necessary to prevent skin irritation

Washing new clothes necessary to prevent skin irritation

Is it absolutely necessary to wash new clothes before wearing them? According to some experts, the answer is yes.

Donald Belsito, a professor of dermatology at Columbia University Medical Center, said that wearing unwashed store-bought garments could lead to skin irritation, scabies, lice or even fungus.

We may never know the long history of said clothes or how they have been handled, for the previous person who tried it on could have been a carrier of lice.

According to Belsito, lice and scabies can be "transmitted from trying on [clothing] at the store".

Lana Hogue, a clothing manufacturing expert, said, "You should absolutely wash clothes before you wear them, especially anything that is right next to the skin or that you will sweat on."

Both Hogue and Belsito also noted that chemicals on clothes at stores should be of concern.

According to Hogue, almost all yarn and dyed fabric require chemicals in the clothing-making process. These chemicals can be harmful, leading to, for example, dermatitis, an itchy red rash that pops up anywhere the irritant comes in contact with the skin.

Furthermore, the process of shipping clothes involves preservatives to prevent mould from growing if there is moisture. One of these chemicals is formaldehyde resin, commonly used in clothing to prevent mildew from forming and keep garments wrinkle-free.

Dermatologist Lindsey Bordone from Columbia University Medical Center emphasised how severe reactions such as eczema could occur when clothes with formaldehyde come in contact with the skin.

The good news is most of these issues can be avoided by washing clothing before wearing them.

Hogue said a number of garments did not require pre-washing, such as swimsuits - contact with water would wash off anything harmful - or outerwear, if it is not directly touching the skin.

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