I seem to have an allergy to polyethylene. I was briefly wearing surgical masks during flu season when I went to crowded places. And each time my nose would start running. I’d also sneeze, and for a while afterward my lungs would hurt. The woven polyethylene fiber masks were sold by a company that imported them from China.
Now my daughter has a similar issue, most notably with lung discomfort. She tells me that she got a new mattress and covered it with a polyethylene mattress protector, which was made in China. Almost from the day she started sleeping on the new mattress she has had respiratory pain. Have others had similar problems with polyethylene?

November 29, 2014 at 10:21 pm

I haven’t heard anyone say that they were sensitive to polyethylene fibers, but you can develop an allergy to anything. When I first discovered I had trouble with glycols, almost everyone I talked to said they’d never heard of it. Some pharmacists were downright insistent that it couldn’t possibly be true. Now people are coming out of the woodwork with sensitivities and allergies to things we all thought were very safe. Our world is now full of strange chemicals made in laboratories and factories. It only makes sense that some of us would be affected by it. We are the canaries in the coal mine, I think. If I hear of anyone who has good info on polyethylene fiber, I’ll post about it and link to it.
Let me know if you find anything else out about it.
November 29, 2014 at 11:21 pm

  • John Innes

    I have no medical credentials, so keep that in mind.

    It is mostly true that “you can develop an allergy to anything” but there are some limits. I have read that the body’s “allergic reaction” is usually triggered by complex protein molecules found in food or in the environment. Protein molecules are very complicated compared with other molecules. In rare cases, someone’s system can mistakenly identify certain complex molecules as being an hazardous proteins. One such non-protein molecule is nickel, which can cause an allergic reaction in certain people. Likewise, glycols can be very complex molecules. For that reason, some people can develop a sensitivity to them.

    So, once any substance is “red-flagged” by the immune system (e.g., identified as a health threat), the body will respond to it as a threat in the future. Theoretically, this could apply to “anything”, but is more likely to be triggered by complex molecules.

    I went to an allergist to confirm or eliminate glycols as a possible allergen for me. He included PEG in a routine skin test and found no reaction. However, he double-checked the medical literature and found that PEG is a manmade molecule that can be “engineered” into several complex variations. (He compared it to clumping more and more popcorn onto a popcorn ball.) He said I might have become sensitive to one of the more complex variations, but he could not confirm or disprove that based on a simple allergy screening in his office.

    I offer this in the hopes of better understanding of what our bodies/systems are doing that are different from the average person’s. I welcome clarification and correction about anything I have written above.

    • kkuzak5gks

      I definitely agree with your understanding of an “allergic reaction” and our bodies’ misinterpretation of certain molecules which causes this over-reaction. What you didn’t address, however, is WHY our bodies respond in such a way. The answer, I believe, lies in the microbiomes of every mucosal surface in our bodies—the gut, the lungs and nasal passages in particular. Each of these surfaces are colonized by distinct groups of microbes. These microbes “teach” our immune system to tolerate dietary proteins and other harmless allergens in the environment. When there is an imbalance/dysfunction in this immune system, however, mechanisms fail to control/prevent the development of allergies and asthma. A combination of oxidative stress ( primarily because of inflammation) and epigentics (gene-environment interactions) can cause our bodies to become intolerant to certain foods, chemicals and environmental pollutants. That’s why it’s so important to take measures to feed our body with NOURISHING food, avoid as many toxins as possible, help restore gut bacteria with probiotics and fermented foods, supplement with needed vitamins and minerals, sleep well, excercise, etc. to help our bodies regain the necessary balance needed for good health. With regard to chemical allergies, there is now biological evidence that supports the idea of TILT (toxicant-induced loss of tolerance). This syndrome results in a person getting sick after toxic exposures and their neurological and immune systems remain damaged afterwards. With this kind of multichemical sensitivity, it greatly impedes a person’s ability to live a “normal” life.

  • Darlene Myers

    you may be allergic to polyester, I am. I put cotton towels on my bed. Make sure your sheets are cotton and pillow case as well.

    • ssw777

      Me too. I thought I was going crazy. Glad to see I am not alone. Do you have issues with shampoos and conditioner? Just about everything makes me itchy and rashly. Does anyone if Dipropylene glycol is any different or should I stay away from that as well.


    • No, you are not alone! We are a small but mighty group, and there is a lot of wisdom among the followers here. Experience varies among us, but we support each other wholeheartedly!
      I have to stay away from anything that has “glycol” in the second half of the name, so yes, DiPropylene glycol would likely give me hives. There are quite a few shampoos that do not contain glycols, including some bar shampoos.
      Conditioners are much harder to find because glycols are often used as humectants – substances that attract moisture.
      Here is a link to a few recommendations, but be sure to read the introduction.

      All the best,