This is by far the most common cause of a skin reaction to wool and other coarse fibers. Sensitive skin can be so irritated by certain wool that a rash develops.
Fine wool sheep produce wool fibers with a very small fiber diameter, usually 20 microns or less. Those sheep account for more than 50 percent of the world's sheep population. Most sheep of this type are Merino or trace their ancestry to the Merino.
This is why some people with sensitive skin may be able to happily wear other animal fibers like Alpaca and Cashmere or the fine wool breeds.
Also wool blends do not irritate your skin in the same way. Blends with cashmere and silk are often soft and smooth enough that they can be worn without causing a reaction.
*A significant minority of us break out in a rash after wearing wool, or have sore red eyes, or even breathing problems. An allergy to wool is actually caused by lanolin, the oil in a sheep’s fleece.
Perhaps the next time you see a woolen item maybe consider this and give that item a chance. Be sure to stop by Artistic Portland to see Karin's beautiful pieces. Not only does Karin create hats, scarves, mittens, and shawls, but she also creates whimsical stuffed animals among other items. Below is a just a small sampling of her work.