CORNER: Textile dermatitis, it is real


I was sitting on the couch one day last week reading a book by Carl Hiassen when the woman I live with walked into the room. I stopped reading to look at her. I always do.

It was early, so she was still in her PJs. I noticed she was wearing the t-shirt inside out. As I slowly scanned my way down, I noticed the pajama bottoms she was wearing was also turned inside out. That’s new, I thought to myself.

The inside-out t-shirt was not new. She had been doing that for awhile. But the inside-out bottoms was a new twist on an old obsession.

The woman I live with claims an uncommon AVERSION to tags in clothes. She has for some time and has all four grandkids convinced they can’t wear clothes with tags because they will make you itch. 

The kids make their parents cut off the tags of all new clothing. If the parents refuse, Nana will do it. That makes the hand-me-down routine an adventure for the grandkids. The parents never know if Brock is giving Wilkes a size 6 shirt of an adult extra large. 

But now, it seems, the woman I live with has become sensitive to the seams in clothing. At least sleepwear. I haven’t seen her wearing clothes turned inside out when we go anywhere. Yet.

After she left the room, I thought about this tag and seam phobia. Was it real or imagined? I could have a small red-billed buffalo weaver in my pants and I don’t think I’d notice it. If I did, I probably enjoy it, but that’s just me.

Some quick research on the Google revealed sensitivity (and even allergies) to clothing and seams is, in fact, a real thing.

It’s called textile dermatitis. But it’s mainly caused by synthetic fabrics, which don’t “breath”  like natural fibers, causing the wearer to sweat and become irritated.

There are message boards on the internet that deal with some things. “I’m a 51-year-old male that has always had trouble with sensory overload — i.e., tags in clothes, wind blowing on bare skin, clothing textures (can wear only soft clothes and even that is irritating), tags and seams on clothing.”

From another: “I used to have a real problem with seams and tags irritating me. In the last five years or so, they’ve stopped bothering me. I also stopped feeling cold all the time in the same time period. I stopped noticing it around the same time I started taking anti-depressants…”

I don’t think I could convince the woman I live with to go see her friendly neighborhood health care professional about a prescription for an anti-depressant, but I’m wondering if a shot of good whiskey would do the same thing.

But now I’m beginning to worry about the woman I live with becoming bothered by the wind blowing on bare skin. If that become a problem, it would seem to be that a simple solution would be, if the wind starts blowing, put on some clothes.

A few final thoughts about my buddy Carl Hiassen and the many things we have in common.

Him: for years, he’s been a very successful, award-winning editor of a major daily newspaper. Me: I know who he is.

Him: Known for the ability to turn a good phrase. Me: I can recognize a well-turned phrase. Example by him: “Buck had met her at a popular Pensecola oyster bar where she worked as a second string shucker.” Me: Nice.


(Larry Franklin is retired and lives in Clinton.)


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