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Allergy to Lycra?

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Allergy to Lycra?

Old 05-27-10, 10:18 PM
  #1  
mcohen75
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Allergy to Lycra?

Anyone allergic to Lycra? I get what I think are hives after most workouts. Sometimes worse than others, sometimes none at all. All I can think is that it's due to the bike shorts.

https://twitpic.com/1rporx

Is there anything worse for a cyclist than an allergy to lycra? Am I bound to either ride in cotton or suffer through the itch?

--Mike
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Old 05-27-10, 10:34 PM
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Looks like you got them below the tan line too. Detergent you used perhaps?
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Old 05-27-10, 10:41 PM
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It certainly does look like hives or some sort of allergic reaction, although I would suspect that the agent responsible is something other than the lycra in your shorts due to the hives being down past where the lycra would contact your skin. It would also be consistent, rather than appearing stronger at some times than others. What else has contact with your skin both below and above the tan line? Perhaps you are allergic to some sort of allergen in the air that you ran into while biking, causing the hives? They look rather big, so a strong reaction, apparently.
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Old 05-28-10, 03:09 AM
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Yep! I have a mild allergy to lycra.

My allergy used to be quite bad a number of years ago (like when I started cycling "seriously" 20 years ago). I'd try on a pair of lycra shorts at the bicycle shop, and within a minute or so, I'd have to take them off because the itchy feeling was that bad. I couldn't even wear gloves with a tiny patch of lycra on the back or my hands would itch like crazy and turn all red. So ... I wore cotton cycling shorts and weightlifting gloves. Yes, you can get cotton cycling shorts that look like regular cycling shorts.

As the years went by I started wearing cotton/poly blend shorts which seemed OK, and then shorts with a bit of lycra in them in a blend with either cotton, polyester, or both, and now I can wear lycra shorts. But I've only been able to do that relatively recently. I don't know if lycra has changed over the past 20 years or if I've just outgrown the allergy for the most part.

However, if it gets at all hot, my legs will go into a massive red rash, and the area covered by the shorts goes into huge itchy lumpy hives ... all over my legs and butt. It's horrible!! So on hot days, I prefer to wear cotton shorts or shorts with a cotton/poly blend. And if I'm riding many days in a row, like I do on a tour, I will wear regular unpadded loose shorts (like basketball shorts or beach shorts) for a change and to get some air flow going.


I can't find cotton just now ... you've got to watch places like Nashbar for them ... often the really inexpensive shorts are cotton and are advertised as spinning shorts or indoor cycling shorts. But here you go, these shorts are 100% polyester ... not lycra ... and may work better for you:
https://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...5_10000_200484

https://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...5_10000_200484


You might also try something like these ... cotton liners:
https://www.chainreactioncycles.com/M...x?ModelID=7818

And you might consider wool as well. Wool would breathe better than lycra.

Last edited by Machka; 05-28-10 at 03:28 AM.
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Old 05-28-10, 03:29 AM
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apparently there's a new test cure for allergic reactions.
might seem a bit backwards, but apparently it works.
https://www.guardian.co.uk/science/20...ealth.research
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Old 05-28-10, 05:45 AM
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U can ride old style with stuff made with 100% wool
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Old 05-28-10, 07:34 AM
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I do get them all over, but the largest concentration is usually on my thigh. Usually I'll get some on my back, arms and lower leg as well but they're much more mild when not in contact with my shorts/jersey.

I hadn't really considered detergent because I don't have the same problem any other time. I suppose if it was detergent it could be exacerbated by the fit of lycra and the sweat.

Nothing else has contact w/the skin. Didn't wear sunblock on the ride that produced these hives.

Thanks all for the responses and comments. Thanks Machka for sharing your experience.
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Old 05-28-10, 07:39 AM
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i will add that "new" things can definitely make you have allergic reactions. by that i mean unwashed, fresh out of the box stuff, i always wash all of my clothing before wearing it, particularly stuff that contacts my skin directly (underwear, undershirts, bibs, etc...)

definitely check the detergent, lycra has different properties than other materials, and may hold chemicals, surfactants, etc that are in the detergent, and then rub them against your skin, which loose fitting clothing may or may not do. there are plenty of allergy friendly detergents out there that are fragrance / dye free. that would be where i would start...
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Old 05-28-10, 07:59 AM
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I used to get hives from excessive sun exposure. Sunscreen helped with that. I dont know if its hot/sunny enough in your part of the world to cause that though.
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Old 05-28-10, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by mcohen75 View Post
Nothing else has contact w/the skin. Didn't wear sunblock on the ride that produced these hives.
Originally Posted by Val23708 View Post
I used to get hives from excessive sun exposure. Sunscreen helped with that. I dont know if its hot/sunny enough in your part of the world to cause that though.
I get those huge itchy lumpy hives on hot days when I do not wear sunscreen ... AND on hot days when I wear certain types of sunscreen. In fact, certain types of sunscreen give me some nasty reactions. I was quite worried about that situation when I moved to Australia and knew I'd have to wear sunscreen at some point. I hunted through all the possibilities here for sunscreen and finally bought a Nutrogena sunscreen that goes on really nicely and doesn't cause the bad reaction I get to many other sunscreens.

OP, you may want to experiment with decent sunscreens and see if that helps at all.
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Old 05-28-10, 07:27 PM
  #11  
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Some info:

Spandex: DuPont first introduced Spandex in 1958. That fiber is now called lycra or lycra spandex. Spandex is a synthetic fiber made of at least 85% polymer polyurethane.

Spandex is made from several chemicals that are known sensitizers. TDI and MDI are used as precursors of the polyurethane used to make spandex.

TDI is a toxic chemical which is proven to be carcinogenic. It is also a skin irritant and can cause severe dermatitis. MDI is toxic and known to be an allergic sensitizer.

Manufacturers of spandex products must use strict quality control procedures to ensure that no residual unreacted MDI or TDI is in the final product.

Spandex threads are lighter weight, but more durable and supple than conventional elastic threads. Spandex does not suffer deterioration from oxidation like the fine sizes of rubber thread, and is not damaged by body oils, perspiration, lotions, or detergents. Spandex is used in the following products: bras, lingerie straps, sock tops, support and control-top hosiery, medical products requiring elasticity, fitted sheets, upholstery, bathing suits, and webbing. Spandex is never used as 100% of any fabric construction.

How do you tell if a spandex garment contains latex? You get conflicting reports. According to one manufacturer, the more sheer a garment is, the less likely it will have latex. Latex threads make a much heavier garment and cannot be woven into the very fine sheer configurations that characterize spandex garments.

Waistbands are the most likely place to find latex thread. Sewn-in waistbands are more likely to contain latex threads than knitted-in waistbands. In contrast, another manufacturer says that you cannot tell whether a waistband is made from rubber yarn or spandex yarn.

Some makers of dancewear and hosiery say that they have moved completely away from latex. U.S. garment manufacturers say that cheaper brands of clothing which are made in other countries are more likely to contain latex since latex is cheaper than lycra spandex. Most manufacturers I surveyed say that lycra spandex products are moving away from latex, but not because of latex allergies. The reason for moving away from latex is that the newer technology makes all lycra spandex garments more durable.

Cases of dermatitis due to spandex have been traced to rubber or rubber processing chemicals added to spandex. The spandex polymer itself has not been proven to be a sensitizer.

One of the largest manufacturers of swimsuits was also aware of latex allergies and confirmed that rubber elastic is used in the leg openings and straps of its lycra spandex bathing suits. They have tried other materials, but no other material can be sewn as easily. Production costs go up when you cannot sew as fast. The demand for latex-free bathing suits is not yet great enough to justify changing to another type of elastic that does not sew as easily.

In surveying textile manufacturers, sometimes the information is vague, to say the least. Some textile manufacturers have heard of latex allergies. Some have not. Some immediately tell you that there is no latex in their products, but will not certify that statement in writing. That makes me suspicious. Some do not know what latex is.

Labeling is still the only way of knowing what is contained in a finished consumer product. The FDA proposal that will require mandatory labeling is a much needed reform for medical devices.

But what about consumer products? Current FTC rules say that a manufacturer does not have to list components of a garment if the ingredient comprises less than five percent of the total make up of the product. Less than five percent is still a lot of material if the material is an allergen.

Allergists have indicated that the concentration to which sensitized persons respond is as small as four molecules. Usually, a latex allergy victim is atopic with multiple allergies. When a reaction to a garment is strictly dermatological in nature, it is possible that individuals are reacting to a chemical dye or some other sensitizing component. This is yet another situation where victims of latex allergy must rely on manufacturers for product content information.

Unfortunately, some manufacturers in industries unrelated to healthcare do not comprehend the implications of latex allergy. Maybe someone should make an elastomeric yarn that contains nitrile.


Copyright © Latex Allergy News
Reproduced here with permission.
Please see an updated (5-17-99) version of this article here.
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Old 05-28-10, 10:07 PM
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I've wondered if there was a latex/spandex/lycra connection.

And yes, leg openings and waistbands, etc. are the worst for me. I will usually choose a cotton or poly blend bathing suit because lycra/nylon will cause me to be itchy like cycling shorts do, but even so quite often the elastic parts drive me crazy. Same with many undergarments.
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Old 05-28-10, 10:14 PM
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have the same problem with new bathing suits, it's the combo of sunscreen and latex in the openings. washing several times before wearing seems to desensitize me to it.
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Old 07-03-10, 07:22 AM
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I think there is something in the waistband theory

I have been getting this recently too - I find it is far far worse when i wear arm and leg warmers
(which have sewn in gripper elastic at each end) doubling the amount i would usually have next to my skin.

https://twitpic.com/221u6v

I also find it is worse when i do a hard workout..

A note of caution.. make sure you take start carrying antihistamines with you while you try to work out what is causing it - i started to get a reaction when i was 40 minutes from home a couple of weeks ago and decided to ride though it to get back instead of going to a shop to get anti allergy tabs in my lycra.. By the time i was there i was covered in the rash, had a bad headache and started to get really dizzy (the antihistamines seemed to fix it after half an hour and i am seeing a gp this week). wasn't a clever move.
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Old 07-03-10, 07:41 AM
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The hives look like they have a pattern. Do they follow the seams? I'm just wondering if it could be the threading.
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Old 07-03-10, 11:02 AM
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Also, you can get hives from excessive wind exposure or cold. Also detergent (any fabric softener is what i'm allergic to), can also cause hives.
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Old 09-08-12, 07:22 AM
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Sorry to bump but just wanted to update incase anyone gets here via google... Since the time when i had what i thought was an allergic reaction to lycra i experienced the same thing several times until one evening after a hard run i suddenly got the hives all over my body, became light headed and went into anaphylactic shock... Not a great experience... I went to an allergy specialist who asked "what did you eat in the 3 hours before you went for your run?" and "how long before your run had you eaten?" (half an hour) and then sent me for an IGE and RAST allergy texts for the things i had eaten before the run. (she seemed to dismiss the idea that it could be lycra, maybe because of the extreme reaction)

It turns out that the hives had nothing to do with lycra and i had infact a slight allergy to two of the things that i had eaten before the run. The exercise had bump started the allergic reaction and what i had managed to suffer up until now almost snuffed me out... Now i need to take telefast (an antihistamine) before exercise, i'm not allowed to eat in the 3 hours before exercise (i assume this is incase i find something else i'm allergic to), and i have to carry an adrenaline pen (which is a pain as they are difficult to fit in your jersey pocket).

Since cutting out wheat and aniseed from my diet i have had no more hives.

So... In short - if you get hives after exercise write down what you ate before hand and get tested just in case.
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Old 09-08-12, 09:41 AM
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I suspect mine is linked to a reaction to the sun as well as the lycra.
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Old 09-08-12, 05:31 PM
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I'm allergic to latex and the leg bands will give me a rash in hot sweaty weather.
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