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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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55 Comments

  • Avatar Jeannie Marie says:

    Thank you Chris for this post. My allergy to neoprene developed after four years using – don’t laugh now – a neoprene jaw support to alleviate my sleep apnea. This is a device made of neoprene and velcro that you trap onto your head to prevent you from sleeping with your mouth open. I’d hoped that one day they’d sell one made out of black lace to help make it somewhat sexy. Now after the contact dermatitis I developed on my lower face I want to make one out of pure cotton flannel! I need to buy a wetsuit and think, despite the cost, it might be best for me to go with the neoprene alternatives. Again, thank you for this information. (Oh, and I did thankfully find a jaw-support made from something other than neoprene. It works – but it too is not sexy!)

  • Avatar Susan Thomas says:

    My daughter just received scuba certified and rescue certified. She loves it. However, only her booties (90% neoprene and 10% nylon made in China called Neosport) make the tops of her feet breakout severely. Blister, hives, that caused her to see a doctor who confirmed it is an allergy. Could you send a sample to her of this product to try?

    • Avatar Lauren Belt says:

      Hey Susan,

      Please have your daughter contact our customer service team either via live chat, email (service@wetsuitwearhouse.com) or call 866-906-7848 and we will be happy to send your daughter a Patagonia koozie sample to try out!

      Thank you!

  • Avatar Grace says:

    I am looking for a vest in non reactive rubber. Any choices?

  • Avatar Jim Yuill says:

    Hi i have this problem myself i bought a wet suit with part pollymide 20% and 80% neoprine thinking my skin wouldn’t be touching the rubber part ,big mistake my whole body reacted[all parts that touched the wet suit]Now I’m looking for yet another wetty number two this year .

  • Avatar Miles Marchment says:

    Hi I am allergic to neoprene and have patch tested the Yulex. Sadly I am allergic to this also. I would love to find out what the chemical I am allergic to is. I have had patch testing done and tried samples of many different wetsuits including the de Soto range. If only I could find a bouyant suit that was made from a different runber

    • Avatar Mats says:

      I have the same problem as you. I am allergic to diethylthioirea and it seems impossible to find a suit without that compound.

  • Avatar Northern Yeti says:

    I’ve been surfing in cold water for ages with no problem at all. I have also had mild eczema for about 15 years, but no flare-ups with wetsuits from O’Neill or Xcell. I excitedly bought a Psychofreak 5mil wettie this Spring and after one surf, my eczema went full on. I let it settle for a few days then tried the suit again and Bam! Full on skin reaction again. The shop I bought from was generous and gave me a full refund for my twice used suit. Now I’m afraid to buy anything other than Patagonia because I believe they’re the only company that will give me a refund if I react to their suit. Bummer, cause I prefer other brands (I’m not skinny).

  • Avatar Rebecca Cullwick says:

    Hello. I have a neoprene allergy (to the thiourea accelerants) & would like to try a skin text of your Yulex wetsuit material please. My address is 22 Gathorne Road, Bristol, BS3 1LU. Thank you.

    • Avatar Lauren Belt says:

      Hi Rebecca,

      Please reach out to our customer service team and they will get you set up with a Patagonia Yulex sample to try! You can contact them either via phone (866-906-7848), live chat or email (service@wetsuitwearhouse.com). Thank you!

  • Avatar Glynn says:

    Coming to your site while investigating the rash I have while wearing a neoprene hand splint. Same rash occurred on leg while it was immobilized in a neoprene splint. Interesting to learn about the alternative to a neoprene wetsuit. I want to dive someday, but these reactions had all but convinced me this would not be an option, at least if it required us of a wetsuit.

  • Avatar Howard D Rich says:

    I had learn to surf in 1967. Never had a problem with my wet suits for years. Then late 1970’s I bought a new suit in Ventura California. By 6pm I was in the hospital ER. The doctors said it was somthing in the water. But I insisted it was the wet suit. A week later doc put a 1″ square of my wet suit on my under arm. One hour later I had white pus sores, red patches, all around the patch area.
    I have chemical burn scares on my ankles and feet due to neoprene.
    Surfing,diving ended for me.

  • Avatar Izzy says:

    Hello – I would like to try a sample as mentioned of the Patagonia wetsuit as I have contact dermatitis from other wetsuits and am strongly considering buying the Patagonia r3.

    • Avatar Lauren Belt says:

      Hi Izzy,

      Feel free to contact our customer service team either via phone (866-906-7848), live chat or email (service@wetsuitwearhouse.com) and they can help get a sample set up. Thank you!

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