From fabrics to flooring, from makeup to medicines, your world is full of chemicals, and some can cause adverse allergic reactions. Chemical allergies typically affect the skin, but also chemicals can irritate the mouth and respiratory tract.
Chemicals are everywhere, including your home. The typical residence can contain upwards of 200 different potentially harmful chemicals, especially if it's an energy-efficient home built after the late 1970s.
One potential allergen is formaldehyde, found in foam insulation, particle board or wallboard, carpeting, permanent-press clothing, waxes, dyes, polishes, plaster and paper. Although you may not see it or smell it, formaldehyde can irritate the eyes and mucous membranes lining the respiratory tract. Most eye irritation or respiratory reactions to formaldehyde are not true allergy reactions.
It is possible to develop an allergic contact dermatitis reaction to formaldehyde, if you are in contact with the chemical because it is in your clothing. Formaldehyde is present in several clothing dyes that are used to color synthetic clothing, including nylon and polyester. It is also contained in resins that are used to treat some clothing (even cotton clothing) to make it wrinkle-resistant. If you develop a rash where your clothing rubs against you or in moist areas (such as your armpits), then you may want to wear clothing made with natural fibers and clothing not billed as wrinkle-resistant.
Cosmetics, Dye and Fragrance Allergies