Wool Allergy or Sensitivity?
Most medical experts, while not discounting the discomfort caused by wool sensitivity, say that true wool allergies are rare. A person with wool allergies has an allergic response, just like a person with an allergy to cats or pollen would have when they come into contact with those allergens.
The most common side effect of a wool allergy is a rash on the face, arms, and hands. This rash may occur immediately after contact with the wool or it may take a couple of days for the rash to appear.
It is thought that most wool allergies are actually a reaction to wool alcohols, which are the main ingredients in lanolin. If you have a reaction to lotions, creams, and makeup that contain lanolin, you'll also have a problem with raw wool.
Does this describe you? Then I have good news! Felt Wicked hats do not have any lanolin. Lanolin is a wax naturally secreted by sheep. Lanolin's waterproofing property aids sheep in shedding water from their coats. However, during the process of creating my hats all lanolin is stripped out of the wool used to make my hats!
Far more common than a wool allergy, many people with sensitive skin feel uncomfortable wearing wool. Their skin is often irritated as well, but they do not have a true allergic reaction. Many people who think they are allergic to wool have sensitive skin that would be irritated by any kind of coarse fiber.
One survey by the International Wool Secretariat found that 30% of Americans said they were allergic to wool, but it's actually the itchy skin reaction they were labeling as an allergy.
Scientists who study such things have found that if more than 5 percent of the fiber in a garment has a diameter of more than 30 microns or an average diameter of more than 22 microns, people will complain that the fiber is itchy.
Does this describe you? Then I have good news! Felt Wicked hats do not have a prickle factor! I only make hats with merino wool of 21 microns or lower! Which means they are "next to the skin soft". However, upon request I can make a hat for you that is even as low as 18 microns for the extra sensitive.