For many people the one and only problem they have with their feet is dermatitis, an inflammation of the skin which often presents as discoloured patches that itch. Little relief is found with astringents and antifungal treatments and hence the patient rocks up to their GP or podiatrist. There are several causes but by far the most common would be contact dermatitis. Did you know in the shoe there are many chemicals which are likely to cause irritation to some people’s skin? Socks are also a source of potential irritation because of industrial dyes that are used. Recent research findings from the Occupational Dermatology Research and Education Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia confirm this. They studied a population of sock wearers, noted those suffering from foot dermatitis and discovered a highly significant association between the presence of foot dermatitis and socks which contained Basic Red 46, a colouring agent frequently added to dark-coloured acrylic and/or acrylic blend socks.
The Basic Red 46 patch test reaction was noted in 555 patients from a patch test clinic population. The prevalence of positive patch test reactions to Basic Red 46 was 1.2%. When the socks were withdrawn from those who tested positive the symptoms improved in 70% of the subjects. The authors suggest to GPs and Podiatrists than when patients with foot dermatitis report they should be routinely patch tested for textile dyes.