Why do blue jeans turn my legs blue and make me itch?

My most popular blogs by far have been the ones associated textiles and clothing causing rashes, dermatitis, eczema and skin allergies. It seems to me, more and more people are becoming super sensitive to the clothes they wear everyday.  In my previous blogs I’ve talked about skin sensitivity to textile dyes and fabric coatings, now I want to tell you what to do to protect yourself.

Blue jeans turn your legs blue because the dye in blue jeans is not completely attached to the fibers, they are made to slowly fade in color. A vinegar rinse after washing helps set some natural dye such as indigo, and might or might not help. This vinegar treatment, of course, would need to be done after each washing until the jeans are quite faded. Actually Indigo dye is a natural dye and should not be as irritating as synthetic disperse dyes.

There are a lot of things to consider when buying clothes. Clothes are not marked with warning labels that say they use certain red and blue disperse dyes that a lot of people have allergies to. They don’t tell us they are using dangerous chemicals to treat the fabric to be wrinkle-free, fire-retardant or resistance to stains and odors. New technology uses nano particles to deliver these chemicals which can penetrate the skin. Since the FDA doesn’t seem ready to step in to protect us from these irritating chemicals and potentially dangerous nano particles, we must act for ourselves. Some ways to protect yourself….

Visit my Skin Allergy Products Store to see some of the products I recommend and use myself.

Please post your comments below about your allergies and ways to help alleviate the symptoms.


12 Responses

  1. Hi, I’ve just had the same problem with a new pair of jeans – the itch and rash are horrendous and is all over my thighs. They are Not Your Daughters Jeans (NYDJ), and are a fantastic fit – so I’m very sad! I’m going to try repeat washing, and then see if they still set me off. I really don’t want to take them back, as they’re wonderful. I’ll also contact NYDJ to make them aware of the problem – I would hope that they could review what they use. I’m presuming that it’s a dye issue rather than a finish, but who knows. For info, they are a dark indigo colour. Thanks for the blog, really useful!


    • Hi Sarah,

      If all else fails, try the very thin 100% silk long underwear. Winter Silk has three weights. (no, I don’t work for Winter Silk) I even wear the light weight long underwear in summer under my trousers, If I’m wearing a favorite dark blue or black pant.


  2. Hi there! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok. I’m absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.


    • My Twitter is: https://twitter.com/allergycomfort


  3. I have been a lifelonge allergy/eczema sufferer and am now in my 40’s and the skin reactions appear
    to be getting much worse. I have tried all kinds of steroids, allergy medication, lotions, soaps, etc to no
    avail. I look like a spotted leopard. I have not been able to wear shorts, short sleeves or any article of cloting that exposes my legs or arms. I am covered in the itchy, scaly lesions that will not go away and I am
    at my wits end. I stumbled onto this website and feel slightly encouraged. I am glad to know I am not alone. My doctor for a year now has been diagnosing these sore as eczema they have covered most of my body for a year. Does anyone recommend skin testing for allergies? Where do I begin to heal this horrible disorder? I literally can feel my skin begin to tingle and itch in different environments as if my immune system has been kicked into overdrive. Any comments/ suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


    • Wow, your experience sounds just like mine. I did try allergy patch testing, which was very expensive for me because it was at a facility not on my insurance’s approved list. I was allergic to so many skin irritants that the test was useless. How do you stay away from everything. The skin specialists at this University Hospital Dermatology Center said I was doing all the right things to protect myself anyway. They said to continue eliminating things that seem to irritate my skin. They did not suggest allergy shots at that time.

      So it’s up to us to protect ourselves. I firmly believe that limiting your exposure to irritants on your clothes will help. Read my blogs about eczema and contact dermatitis. I once wore a red and white striped t-shirt and broke out in rashes only under the red stripes. That sure tells me more than allergy patch testing. Here is a link to my website with all my skin allergy blogs: http://allergycomfortzone.com/skin-allergies.html


  4. This post is very useful. We’ve noticed a related problem. My teen son has sensitive skin, and recently I bought a pair of jeans for him. I didn’t notice the small ‘REMOVE BEFORE WEARING OR CLEANING’ tag, and he began wearing them. He complained of itching and then a bad smell on the pants. I’m sorry to say I washed the pants several times before this point, maybe 5 times. When he again complained of the smell right after they werer washed, I took them and search them and finally found this tag, a small 1/2 inch by 1 1/2 inch tag containing something rigid sewn into the waist band. Some posts say this is an electronic chip; some say it releases dye. Have you heard of an allergic reaction like this before? Thanks!


    • Usually the “tagless” tags people are allergic to are the ones printed directly on the fabric with a latex ink. The “tagless” tags are usually found on t-shirts or children clothes.
      What you are talking about sounds like a inventory control chip. You would think the store would have removed it before selling the jeans. You also said there was a bad smell. Did this smell like formaldehyde or a fishy smell? Formaldehyde is used to give a wrinkle free finish to clothes. I have found the fishy smell on imported clothes as a fabric coating or finish. It is believed that some of the chemicals help keep the fabric stain free, wrinkle free and disinfected. But more importantly, it should be made clear that formaldehyde is considered a carcinogen, a cancer causing agent. Usually these finishes slowly wear-off as they are washed.

      Also blue jeans are notorious for the blue dye causing allergic reaction. I find some brands of blue jeans make me break out and others do not. I wash everything my family wears in an anti-allergen detergent with extra rinse three times before wearing. Good Luck.


      • Thank you. This is great information, and seriously distressing! After removing the tag I pre-soaked and washed the pants twice and air dried them and they lost the smell (sorry, I didn’t get a good whiff). For good measure I washed them again adding vinegar. Wearing will be the test; if they fail it’s in the garbage. By the way, the tag had to be removed wtih scissors and is not the kind the store removes. The printed message on the tag is “Remove before wearing or cleaning”. I’ve read elsewhere that people have set off alarms at stores wearing their new, washed pants. Beware the hidden tags!


  5. Wonderful blog! I truly love how it’ s easy on my eyes as well as the data are well written. I am wondering how I can be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your rss feed which need to do the trick! Have a nice day!


  6. Awesome post! thank you for sharing this information. allergycomfortzone.wordpress.com really got under my
    skin, bookmarked… Keep up the good site…


    • That happened to me with specific brand, and is the one that fits right to my body:( but afet few washes I’m fine.


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