What is a wool allergy?

Written by izzy mcphee
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What is a wool allergy?
What is a Wool Allergy (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Jurij Skoblenko)

Wool is a fibre taken from sheep and contains the natural oil lanolin. At times, people can experience an allergic reaction to this oil, which is referred to as a wool allergy.

Allergens in Wool

Wool (the lanolin in wool) contains wool alcohols that are in part responsible for allergic reactions in people. Wool can also contain dust mites and other organic matter that can trigger allergies.


Symptoms of this allergic reaction can include redness and swelling on the face and upper extremities. Many people with an allergy to wool will experience nasal congestion when exposed to the fibres. Itchy skin and a rash in areas where the wool has touched will also form.


Over-the-counter antihistamine medications as well as allergy shots are effective in treating wool allergies. Avoiding exposure to wool is the best way to prevent allergy flare-ups.

Whose is at Risk

Those with chronic dermatitis are at a greater risk than those without it. Wool-sensitive individuals working closely with wool or lanolin products are also at higher risk of experiencing adverse reactions.

Other Names for Lanolin

Lanolin has been given several names. Common names include wool fat, lanolin alcohol, wool wax, wool alcohol, anhydrous lanolin, and wool grease.

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