Allergic to Knitting – No Lanolin or Nickel for Me!

This skin issue started about  a year and a half ago when I was interviewed on CNN International by Maggie Lake regarding online video which became part of a piece on the Google-YouTube purchase.  (one of the members of my knitting group saw me on tv in Palermo, Italy!) As part of the preparation for the interview, I went through makeup at CNN which is located in the TimeWarner Building on Columbus Circle.

I thought that being interviewed on CNN was an exicting experience until I got a rash on my eyelids from the Bobbi Brown makeup. Despite multiple visits to the dermotologist and an eye doctor who specializes in skin issues, the rash which is a form of excezma continues to reappear after  1 1/2 – 2 weeks. Since I’m getting married soon, I decided to try to get rid of the rash.

My doctor sent me to a dermotologist who specializes in skin allergy testing. The process takes a week during which you can’t shower or wear a bra. They tape various test modules to your back for two days. I had over 140 different tests and found the tape incredibly itchy. When they remove the modules, they mark your back so there is a map telling the doctor what was placed were. They look at the results at two days and again at four days. There is an incremental reaction over time. I discovered that this is why one may not be able to tell what caused an allergic reaction.

Since the doctor discovered that I knit, he added a variety of textiles to the testing. Further, I had to bring my knitting and needles in for the reading on Friday.

After  a week of skin testing for a wide range of allergins, I am allergic to lanolin and nickel. Lanolin comes from sheep and can be in wool as well as many skin related products. Additionally, I am allergic to nickel which can be in a number of knitting needles including my favorite Crystal Palace bamboo where the join is copper colored but tests positive for nickel! The doctor gave me a 58 page document of skin related products that I can use. With regard to detergents and the like, I need to check their ingredients. Further, my finance needs to check them as well since I can get a reaction from touching him if he’s used them!

Skin allergies unlike food allergies are treated by avoidance. As a result, I’m on a two week wool diet. (The doctor had suggested a month but I am knitting a lace shawl for the wedding and a sweater for the honeymoon. Both of which are a combination of silk and wool. He asked if I could only knit the silk. Very funny, not.)

Now, I’m considering trying the Honeymoon Cami which has been made 180 times on Ravelry. While I haven’t been able to knit many things for my wedding and honeymoon, I figure that I will give it a try using the Sarah’s Yarns silk that I bought to make the Annie Modessett’s Silk Corset that I abandoned.

2 Responses to “Allergic to Knitting – No Lanolin or Nickel for Me!”

  1. Michelle Harris

    I too was just tested for contact dermatitis & allergies and was informed that I have an allergy to lanolin, among several other ubiqutious ingredients (topical Vitamin E, propylene Glycol, fragrance, botanicals). I have knitted off & on in the past. I am supposed to be taking some mother-daughter knitting classes with my 4th grader but now I have researched that lanolin comes from sheep and hence wool. So I suppose I will have to just observe my daughter knit ?
    Did you find any types of yarn that worked with your lanolin allergy?

  2. Beclynn

    I have a wool allergy and am sensitive to nickel as well, but the mother-daughter knitting classes are NOT a bust (should you find another in the future). Any acrylic or cotton yarn that has no wool should be fine.

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