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Neoprene Allergies Explained

   September 7th, 2017   Posted In: Articles, FAQs  

Neoprene Allergies Explained

We rarely get questions about a neoprene allergy, but they are a fact of life for some customers. Keep in mind that we’re not doctors, and always consult a physician if you experience a rash or reaction when dealing with wetsuits or neoprene. What’s the deal with neoprene allergies? Here’s what we know, and how we can possibly help.

The fact is, it’s simply contact dermatitis. It’s not unique to neoprene. There are literally thousands of different environmental, domestic and industrial elements that can give you contact dermatitis.

Your pets are far more likely to give you contact dermatitis than neoprene. But, allergies to neoprene can happen.

What is Neoprene Contact Dermatitis?

Neoprene — the technical name of which is polychloroprene — can sometimes cause contact dermatitis. “Contact dermatitis is a condition in which the skin becomes red, sore or inflamed after direct contact with a substance,” explains the New York Times Health Guide.

However, in the same article, the scientists were quick to point out that, “neoprene hypersensitivity is rare.”

What in Neoprene Causes Contact Dermatitis?

According to an S. Hawkey and S. Ghaffar report titled, “Neoprene Orthopedic Supports: An Under recognized Cause of Allergic Contact Dermatitis” which was published in Case Reports in Orthopedics, the culprit is Thiuram.

Comprised of chemical compounds used to improve the waterproof qualities of neoprene, Thiuram is found in almost all neoprene.

What Solutions are There for People With Neoprene Sensitivities?

Once a person develops a neoprene allergy, the only solution is to discontinue use. Again, neoprene allergies are uncommon, but they do occur. Fortunately, there have been advances in rubber technologies with neoprene-like rubbers that do not contain Thiuram.

neoprene allergiesAs advancements in rubber begin to influence the water recreation industries, we hope that neoprene allergies will become something of the past. For example, Patagonia’s Hub Hubbard developed a product line called Yulex. Yulex is a neoprene-free line of wetsuits that does not contain Thiuram.

Wetsuit Wearhouse and Patagonia Might be Able to Help!

For anyone interested in trying a neoprene-free wetsuit, Wetsuit Wearhouse will send customers a sample of Patagonia Yulex to wear around their wrist or ankle to test for reaction.

This is a great way to try before you buy. The expense of a Patagonia Yulex wetsuit is easily justified when you consider that it will get you back in the water! Added bonus: All Patagonia wetsuits feature a lifetime warranty, which is unprecedented in the wetsuit world.

It’s rare, but neoprene (wetsuits) and/or the materials used in its construction can cause allergic skin reactions. If allergic, discontinue use and consult a physician.

*Update: Patagonia recently updated and added more information concerning the ingredients their neoprene-free line of Yulex wetsuits do and do not contain. Check out our latest in-depth post explaining why Yulex wetsuits are a hypoallergenic wetsuit option and how these suits could help those with neoprene sensitivities!*

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Chris Moleskie

Chris "Mole" Moleskie is the Founder, President, and CEO of Wetsuit Wearhouse. Mole grew up in the water on the East Coast. After graduating from Salisbury University, on Maryland's Eastern Shore, he headed to San Diego to find the eternal Ocean City. Wetsuit Wearhouse was formed a few years later in 2001. He swims, surfs when he can, SCUBA dives, wakeboards, SUPs, snowboards 15-20 days a season, and recently fell in lust with wakesurfing. Mole spends his summers at the not so secret Wetsuit Wearehouse Testing Facility on the Potomac River.
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52 Comments

  • Avatar Nick says:

    Hey i would love to know if you ship the samples to Canada! surf seasons coming up and I’m stressing about dropping $1000 on a full new winter kit for it to not work…

    • Elizabeth Werdnik Elizabeth Werdnik says:

      Hi Nick! Yes, we do. Go ahead and reach out to our customer service team so they can get you sorted out with a sample. They’re available either via email (service@wetsuitwearhouse.com) or by phone (866)-906-7848, 10 AM – 4 PM EST! Cheers!

  • Avatar Mats says:

    I have allergy to neoprene and for me the yolex didnt work. So I am Still seeking a solution. I have tested all materials available including limestone based and the result is always the rashes:(

    • Elizabeth Werdnik Elizabeth Werdnik says:

      Hi Mats, so sorry to hear about your frustrations with finding a solution. We are always looking out for developments in the neoprene industry for an alternative for those with sensitivities!

  • Avatar Gøran Eliassen says:

    Hi! Do you ship to Europe?

  • Avatar Denise says:

    My 10 year son has eczema and when he wears a wetsuit it really agitates his skin , gets a load of sore rash all over his body. Even when he wears a rash best doesn’t protect him. Did an intolerant test on him and rubber came up. Would your Patagonia Yulex suit his skin?

    • Elizabeth Werdnik Elizabeth Werdnik says:

      Hi Denise, thanks for reaching out. Many people with skin sensitivities and allergies have had success with the Patagonia YULEX neoprene-free rubber. We can send you a sample of the material to try on his skin to see if it can work for him before you purchase the suit. If that’s something you’d be interested in, reach out to our customer service team either via email (service@wetsuitwearhouse.com) or call 866-906-7848 about receiving a Patagonia YULEX sample. Best of luck!

  • Avatar Anne Byrne says:

    I just purchased an Orca natural swimmer wetsuit – extra stretch – and noticed rash bands on on ankle and wrist area after 20 minutes swim in deep Atlantic water. I had no idea that neoprene may contain substances that cause skin allergies. I have never had any contact dermatitis allergies before this. It is an expensive suit but now afraid to wear it in case of shock or making the allergy worse. Would washing it in a cold water machine cycle help? This never happened when wearing old fashioned thicker wetsuits which are a pain to put on or off and not at all flexible- but do keep out the Atlantic cold! Thanks for sharing the tips. Much appreciated.

    • Elizabeth Werdnik Elizabeth Werdnik says:

      Hi Anne! I can appreciate how that would be frustrating. I can’t speak for the washing trick, which may have worked great for other people’s sensitivities! The difficult thing about reactions to wetsuits is that it is often hard to pinpoint what element of the suit is causing irritation. Many people with sensitivities have had success with Patagonia’s YULEX line of wetsuits (which you can check out here). If it’s something you’d be interested in, reach out to our customer service team either via email (service@wetsuitwearhouse.com) or call 866-906-7848 about receiving a Patagonia YULEX material sample to test on your skin to see if maybe something from their neoprene-free line could work better for you. Best of luck!

  • Avatar Mark says:

    Hi All
    unfortunately in England due to our water temperature in the winter, wetsuit Boots and gloves are needed. Strangely, I only get a rash on my feet and hands, nothing on my body. This year I tried the Patagonia Yulex boots and gloves but after a couple of sessions my hands feel like they are on fire and my feet are itching. The next stage after this will be blistering and the gradual loss of the top layer of skin on the palms of my hands and round the sole of my feet. My skin then cracks in paper cut style splits from being dry and I can barely open my hands fully. Unfortunately my job as a beach lifeguard means I am in contact with wetsuit material daily. I will try to soak the boots and gloves for a period to see if this helps

    • Elizabeth Werdnik Elizabeth Werdnik says:

      Hi Mark, I’m sorry that you’re dealing with this especially considering your job! Let us know if the soaking helps with their wear. I might also recommend checking out baselayer layering pieces to maybe wear underneath your gloves and boots to see if that helps with the reaction. You can check out our selection here if you think that might help. Wishing you the best of luck!

  • Avatar Gail Hall says:

    My daughter had a horrible skin reaction to a leg brace she was required to use it was like an open wound then turned to a scaly, lizzard-like skin condition which lasted for months. She didn’t have another problem until she used some aides for water aerobics and ended up with a contact area reaction around wrists and waist…blisters, sores then scaly skin that once again lasted months. The doctor said she was had an allergic reaction to neoprene.

    • Elizabeth Werdnik Elizabeth Werdnik says:

      Hi Gail, that sounds really difficult, especially considering how rare neoprene allergies are. I hope she’s doing better now!

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