Allergic to Underwear?

Updated on March 04, 2011
S.L. asks from Chestertown, MD
14 answers

My son has been potty training for a little over a month and to simplify things we have just been going commando. He's doing really well and hasn't had any accidents, so we upgraded him to big boy underwear last Tuesday. On Saturday I noticed a rash around where the waist band would be and my husband said he'd noticed it the day before (he bathes him-and I don't know why he didn't say something sooner). I was worried it might be the underwear so we went back to going commando on Sunday and he hasn't worn underwear since. The rash isn't totally gone, but is improving. My question is do you think it could be from the underwear or is it just a coincidence? Our detergent hasn't changed and nothing is new in his diet. He did have a virus last week, with a mild fever for about 24 hours and then a cough and runny nose, so I guess it could be related to that...? If it is from the underwear what could he be allergic to? They say 100% cotton, but they are the little tighty whitey type underwear with an elastic waist (can that be made from cotton too?) My husband said maybe it's latex, but I don't think there is any latex in them. Has anyone else experienced something like this and what was the solution? Is there another kind out there that I could try instead? Thanks for all of your help. I just feel weird calling his pediatrician for a question about underwear!

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So What Happened?

Thanks, Moms. I just wanted to clarify again that I don't think it's the detergent, he was in cloth diapers, washed with the same detergent and we never had this problem. I did was the underwear first, but it might not have been in hot water. I'll try to find some of the underwear that have the comfort band instead. And it's probably not a latex allergy because he hasn't had a reaction to anything else, including band aids. Any more advice is greatly appreciated!

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answers from Chicago on

There usually is latex in the waistband of underwear. My daughter did get a rash also, but I just washed them and then rolled the band over inside once and sewed it down to give a second layer against her skin that did work. And by the way, she is allergic to latex but this did work for her.

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answers from Chicago on

it's probably the latex in the waist band elastic. I would get a different kind. and give it a try. There are some brands that have the elastic coated with soft cotton. It will be more expensive as usually they come in packages of 2 or 3 instead of the packages of 5 but he will be more comfortable.

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answers from Modesto on

I have a really good friend that is allergic to elastic. She has to look long and hard for panties that wont give her a rash and in most cases has to wear them inside out even. So, he may have a latex allergy. I would check that out. What ever rubber is used in the elastic is also a heat generator and he may be getting a heat rash from sweating in that area since it doesnt breathe well. Try applying some cornstarch to that area before putting his underwear on and see if that doesnt resolve it. His body may need to acclimate to the new substance (elastic waste band) as well and in time he wont be allergic to it anymore once his little immune system figures it out.

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answers from Raleigh on

My son gets a little rash around the waist band area. My husband has the same problem if the waist bands aren't the "comfort" bands. Something about the elastic causes them to rash up a bit if they get sweat or moisture under it (which they do). Unfortunately, "comfort" waist bands for little boys are hard to find. I cut all the little tags out of the back, but he still gets the rash from time to time. I have found that going with the next size up makes the waist band looser, and helps with the irritation (even if he has "droopy drawers"-lol).

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Fruit of the Loom make the cutes little boxer briefs that have the cotton comfort waistband (nonelastic). The sell them at Target & Walmart for like $6 for 3 pairs. My son was having the same problem with the elastic bands, but not with this style. They are also a lot easier for him to pull up and down on his own.

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answers from Philadelphia on

I have 2 boys and a girl and this happened to each one of them when they first started wearing undies... I rewashed them all in a dreft type detergent in hot water and it stopped. You'd think I'd have figured that trick out after the first, or maybe 2nd child, but nope my little man was head to toe rash before I realized yet again that their little tushies have not been exposed to any of the "stuff" in detergents and clothing fabrics... Maybe it's as simple as this for you? My husband does bath time too so I was always slow on the uptake for rashes and stuff...

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answers from Phoenix on

My daughter is allergic to latex and cannot have any rubber exposed in the waistband in underwear. I think those whitey tighty's have rubber in that waistband.

Has your son had a similar response to regular bandaids? That's how we learned about her latex allergy, b/c of her allergic response to normal bandaids.

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answers from Allentown on

I think it is a sensitivity to the elastic in the underwear, probably not an allergy or you probably would have noticed by now. I know my son would get a rash in the back from the tag on some underwear, it just irritated him.
I would recommend trying to buy some of the Hanes Comfortsoft Tagless briefs or boxer briefs.

My son has gotten a little better as he has gotten older. He can wear some underwear without any complaints or problems. So maybe your son will adapt, maybe not. But atleast there are options now.
Good Luck!

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answers from Minneapolis on


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answers from Dallas on

That it is only the waistband makes it sound like that particular underwear. Could it be too tight? Was it slightly damp? Try a looser elastic.....maybe even boxers.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Harrisburg on

Hi S. - I just wanted to confirm what Iluvmylittleguy said. My daughter has the same problem. In my case, and I suspect in yours, it was not an allergy, just sensitivity in the area. My daughter can plaster herself with bandaids and wear almost anything else with elastic with no problem, but the elastic around the waist and legs of her panties gives her a rash. I would recommend getting comfort waistbands, or similar types without exposed elastic (which are harder to find for girls). Good luck!

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answers from Oklahoma City on

If he is only having the reaction to underwear then it's most likely not latex.

Latex is in lots of other things that you would have noticed by now. They use latex in elastic, boots, gloves (Any time a nurse touched him while wearing gloves he would have broken out), swim suits (If you touched him while wearing yours or your husband either he would have broken out). Tie some elastic around his wrist, loosely of course, see if he reacts to it there too.

My thoughts are the laundry soap. Under wear fits tight and rubs the skin constantly. This is the first time he has had anything fit this tight against any part of his skin. Even shorts move and hang away from the body from time to time during the day.

Try using all different laundry products (soap, fabric softener, and dryer sheets) just for a few loads and see if it makes it worse, better, or the same. That way you can prove or eliminate the cleaning process as the culprit. If you notice a difference then you need to narrow it down and see if it's the soap, or the bleach, or the fabric softener, or dryer sheets. Each item can be the cause.

Try different pairs/styles of underwear. Are you putting them on him right out of the package? He might be allergic to the sizing products they treat the fabric with. Almost every new garment has some sort of substance on it to make it look pressed and wrinkle free and when it's washed it looks totally different. If it is indeed the underwear waistband then I would think about making him some. It would be like making little shorts and you could use 100% cotton, pre-wash the uncut fabric in the hottest water you will ever do laundry in, that way it will never shrink any more that the first wash and dry. Then dry it at the hottest setting you'll ever use too. I use warm water for everything except light/whites that I use bleach in. So if I were making underwear with 100% cotton in a very light or white fabric I would wash it in hot and dry on high. You can use a drawstring, buttons, snaps, very soft sew-in Velcro circles, any number of closure options are out there. Think about how they held up their underwear before the invention of elastic.

Good luck in your adventure of finding what is causing this rash.



answers from Sioux Falls on

I know this is a bit late, and I'm not even a member here, but your post came up on my search. My daughter went to the ER tonight for a severe rash - allergic reaction. It's right where the tag on her new Fruit of the Loom underwear are (tagless style). She is reacting to the tag, no doubt about it. I've looked some more and it appears to be a PVC that is used to make the tag, but I'm not clear. I did report it to CPSIA tonight - ###-###-#### - and I'd suggest you do the same. Her backside is completely open from the sores! It is not a latex allergy.

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