You might want to think twice next time you wear your brand new clothes without washing them, medical specialists caution.
Since the UAE is known for being a one-stop shopping destination, home to thousands of international brands, many chemicals are used to keep the clothes wrinkle-free by the time they arrive in the country.
“Most clothing brands, even international ones produce their products in Asian countries to cut on costs. So in order to keep them wrinkle-free, by the time they arrive to the desired destination, a chemical called Formaldehyde is used,” Dr Ikramullah Al Nasir, Specialist Dermatologist and Medical Director of Dermacare Skin Centre, said.
Al Nasir also pointed out that the same is true when it comes to non-iron wash-and-wear clothes that have gained popularity among people who are too busy to iron their clothes.
In order to keep these clothes wrinkle-free for prolonged shipping periods or create the crease free quality of wash and wear clothes, higher quantities of Formaldehyde are needed: “In high quantities, people with sensitivity or known allergy to Formaldehyde can develop mild reactions such as itching to full blown skin dermatitis,” Al Nasir said.
The last display piece of clothing or shoe is another aspect that shoppers must take into consideration as it might cause health related issues.
“A garment worn by many people can carry a risk of transferring scabies, a skin disease that produces an extremely severe itch and rash on the body. It is easily transferable and highly contagious. The second risk is dust mites which can cause allergic reaction,” he added.
Purchasing the last shoe item can also cause fungal infection of the foot or nails especially if the person trying the shoes has sweaty feet as they are more prone because they make the skin softer and so the power of organism’s penetration Al Nasir
Lingerie and swimming wear which can be tried in dressing rooms can have high risk of herpes, fungal and bacterial infection and so Al Nasir advices that they are washed in a high water temperature before use.
Other risks include black artificial leather shoes and garments as they are dyed by the chemical Phenylenediamine (PPD) that can create a generalised skin reaction or an allergic skin reaction called Allergic Lichenoid Dermatitis.
Most UAE residents like Emirati national Khawla Al Blooshy told Gulf News that not knowing who wore the item or what it went through before it reaches the store is an issue: “It depends if the clothes look like they have been tried by many people. I am scared of getting diseases.”
Dubai-based fashion stylist who preferred not to be named recalled a perfect example of what residents such as Khawla fear.
“My company once borrowed a high-end shirt for a photo-shoot and during the shoot I noticed that the model was sweating and large sweat marks where starting to form. So after the photo-shoot I hand washed the item at a public toilet and dried it on the street. Later on that day I returned the shirt to the store and to my surprise they returned it back to its plastic packaging and put it on the shelf.”
Palestinian national Yousuf Hamad, however, never washes his clothes and does not think it is important. “I never wash my new clothes. I assume that they are already clean and I have never faced a problem before so I don’t think that it is a big deal” [GN]