polyester allergy

Polyester is a synthetic fiber made of plastic. Allergy to polyester is a common cause of allergic skin reactions. It causes itching, redness, tenderness, and bumps (called hives). Polyester is one of the most used fabrics in the world, so it’s hard to avoid it.

This article explains polyester allergies, and how to treat and prevent symptoms.

polyester allergy

Allergies occur when your immune system overreacts to something normally harmless.

Polyester allergy is one of a group of allergies called textile contact dermatitis, which means your skin reacts when it comes in contact with fabrics. As many as 20% of people have some form of contact dermatitis. Allergens (substances that cause a reaction) may be in your clothing, furniture, or bedding.

Polyester allergies can affect any part of your body when in contact with polyester. But the most common place you might notice it is when the fabric rubs against your skin and causes friction. This can include:

  • inside of elbow
  • behind the knee
  • groin
  • buttocks
  • folds of skin (called Intermediate)

Types of Polyester Allergies

There are two types of polyester allergies:

  • Irritant Contact Dermatitis: A more common form in which polyester causes inflammation, usually shortly after exposure.
  • Allergic contact dermatitis: An immune system reaction that appears on the skin. It may occur days after exposure rather than immediately.


Many allergens can cause skin reactions similar to polyester allergies, so keep an eye out for them if you come in contact with polyester. A dermatologist can do a test to confirm it, or if you can avoid the fabric, you can see if the symptoms go away.

Symptoms include:

  • Skin irritation (may feel like a burning or tingling)
  • redness
  • itching
  • swelling
  • peel off
  • dry or scaly skin
  • blister
  • Lumps (hives)

The rash can become infected, especially if you scratch it or have blisters.

Contact your healthcare provider if you feel pain in the area, feel hot to the touch, or if you see yellow or green fluid, swelling, crusting, or red streaks in the rash.

How to treat polyester allergy

If you cannot avoid contact with polyester and experience symptoms, you can try home remedies and remedies that can relieve itching and soothe your skin. This can include a cold compress or an oatmeal bath.

Non-prescription drugs

There are some medications you can buy without a prescription to help relieve the symptoms of a polyester allergy. These include:

  • topical steroids
  • Calamine lotion
  • Burrow’s solution (Aluminum triacetate), if you have oozing blisters
  • antihistamines

If symptoms persist, a dermatologist or other healthcare provider may prescribe other medications. These can include oral steroids, topical antibiotics, light therapy, or topical immunomodulators, which reduce allergic reactions by suppressing the immune system.

If you suspect a polyester allergy

Polyester allergy has the same symptoms as other skin irritants or allergens. If you think polyester is causing your itching or rash, you can try eliminating contact with it to see if it helps. Healthcare providers may be able to perform an allergy test called a patch test to confirm if polyester is the culprit.


If you’ve identified polyester as the cause of your skin irritation, the most effective way to treat it is to avoid polyester. This can be challenging because it is so common in materials.

If you can’t avoid polyester entirely, try to minimize your exposure to it, as the longer you’re exposed to it, the worse your allergic reaction will be. If you want to avoid polyester, check the label of any fabric product before buying.

Other ways to prevent an allergic reaction from getting worse include:

  • Use a base moisturizer (repairs and protects the skin)
  • Do not scratch (to avoid spreading the rash or causing an infection)
  • Avoid tight clothing (to reduce friction and contact with fabrics)


Polyester allergy is a type of contact dermatitis that occurs when your skin reacts to wearing polyester clothing or otherwise coming into contact with synthetic fibers. It can cause itchy skin, redness, or a rash. It can be difficult to know if polyester is causing symptoms or other skin allergens. You can try avoiding polyester and see if it improves, or you can visit an allergist who can diagnose it. Effective treatments are available to treat polyester allergies.

VigorTip words

Fabric allergies are common, and polyester is the main one. If you can isolate the fabric that’s causing the itching – be it polyester or otherwise – you can avoid the allergen and hope to see improvement in symptoms. Polyester is not always avoidable, so it can be treated with over-the-counter medications.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How common is polyester allergy?

    Specific allergens can be difficult to track down, but allergic reactions to textiles, including polyester, are common. It is estimated that up to 20 percent of people suffer from some form of contact dermatitis, which is an allergic or immune system reaction to something that touches the skin.

  • What does a polyester allergy look like?

    If you are allergic to polyester, you can get a rash on your skin. The rash is usually red and may cause blisters.