Thursday, May 18, 2017

Shoe Allergies

Shoe allergies are a form of dermatitis caused skin contacting allergens (irritants) in shoes and socks. Symptoms include inflammation, burning sensation, blisters, itching, fissuring (cracks in the skin) and sometimes secondary infection. Long term exposure to an allergen may result in the skin becoming thick, red and scaly. The allergic reaction is usually confined to the tops of the foot and toes but can also be found on the sole of the foot, the legs, and the sides of the feet and heels. There are many chemical substances in shoes and socks which cause allergies. Glues (para-tertiary butylphenol formaldehyde resin (PTBP-FR), and colophony); leather chemicals (potassium dichromate); rubber chemicals/accelerators (2-mercaptobenzothiazole (MBT) and thiuram mix chemicals); dyes (particularly PPD) ; and metal components/decorations on shoes (nickel sulphate and cobalt chloride) are all potential sources. There is no mechanism for de-sensitising to rosin. Once the dermatitis appears on the skin, treatment is as for any acute dermatitis/eczema, i.e. topical corticosteroids, emollients, treatment of any secondary bacterial infection.

The best way to avoid allergy is by being aware of products that contain the product. Look for the list of ingredients on the product labels or packaging of all substances you come into contact with, not just the ones you think you might be sensitive to. When this information is not often available on labels you may need to contact the manufacturer of the product or cosmetic for advice. However sensible and practical this advice is, it is often complicated because many of the products go under different names and there is a general lack of product information at the point of purchase. This is more difficult with footwear as the relevant information is rarely displayed.

Most countries now have a system called Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) system catalogues information on chemicals, chemical compounds, and chemical mixtures. MSDS information may include instructions for the safe use and potential hazards associated with a particular material or product. There is a duty to properly label substances on the basis of physico-chemical, health and/or environmental risk but the MSDS is not primarily intended for use by the general consumer. The focus is primarily on the hazards of working with the material in an occupational setting. When no information available and direct inquiry to the product manufacturer is required.

Colophony (rosin) is the yellow/black sticky sap which comes from pine & spruce tree trunks. When it is distilled it is used to produce turpentine and gum, the latter is widely used in every-day products from personal care and beauty products, topical medications, cosmetics, adhesives and sealants, chewing gum to shoe glue and boot polish. Rosin is also used for its friction-increasing capacity including ballet and flamenco dancers rubbing their shoes in powdered rosin to reduce slippage on stage. Violin and banjo players use it to prevent the bridge from moving during a performance. You will often see clouds of it used by gymnasts and competition weight lifters to improve their grip. The list is almost endless but despite its usefulness Colophony also causes Allergic Contact Dermatitis (ACD) and Occupational asthma. Skin contact in some people causes a dermatitis with the typical symptoms of redness, swelling, itching and fluid-filled blisters. Because of the ubiquitous nature of rosin in our every day lives people with allergies have major challenges trying to avoid contact which often means reading labels very carefully and looking for products which contain the irritant or related chemicals. Rosin is also known by several other names, including: Resin terebinthinae, Tall oil, Abietic acid , Methyl abietate alcohol, Abietic alcohol and Abietyl alcohol.

Footnote If you have any of these symptoms then please consult your physician for assistance.

Interesting sites
Shoe allergies: A resource for those who have allergies to their shoes


jneenie1976 said...

Not sure if anyone will see this message - the thread is old.

For people allergic to shoe glue.

I have bought 5 pairs of GABOR shoes/boots and have been wearing them all since October 8th. Absolutely chuffed. They live up to their allergy free statement.

I am Ptbp resin / colophony / nickel / cobalt - MEGA Sensative. Not had a true pair of shoes since diagnosed 7 years ago.

I AM truly wearing shoes/ boots without single reaction at all. I have now got 5 pairs. Shoes / pumps / ankle boots/ knee high boots. THE LOT. Completely allergy free.

I would put my life on it! - if you need shoes and you have same allergy as GABOR!

GABOR are expensive - but I got massive discount bargains from AMAZON. More than half price. There's bargains on Ebay too from time to time.

So sorry for the men out there...GABOR only do womens shoes.

I hope this message reaches the outside could help so many of you.

Good luck xxxxxxxxxxx

Amy L said...

I'm the owner of the 'Shoe Allergies' website. Thanks so much for linking to it. I just thought I'd let you know that the URL for the website has changed. It's now located at: I had to move the website, as GeoCities closed in October. Unfortunately, Google and other search engines have not yet picked up the website's new location.

usmc said...

I am in the Marine Corps and have developed an allergic reaction to all the boots we wear. Is there a sock or something out there that can act as a barrier. I do not want to get kicked out for a rash but it not looking good right now. said...

Calling out to all Shoe Allergy sufferers. Please be a part of my Quest to find an answer…most importantly….find shoes. I’m calling out to sufferers, dermotologists, skin specialists, hospitals, doctors, shoe manufacturers, etc etc

Please visit a new site….just born…

We will find a resolution. We will find the shoes.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Hi I recently bought a pair of Sperrys shortly after wearing them the tops of my feet became swollen itch and I develop a rash on top of my feet it looked and felt as if I had rub poison ivy all over the tops of my feet I know now that I can't where any Sperry shoes . Epson salt seems to help with some of the itching .

Peggy Jackson said...

I wanted to let you know that I came across this blog while doing some research for my daughter who is HIGHLY allergic to shoes. After 100+ hours of research, calls all over the world.. I FINALLY found some kids shoes that didn't have glue. They are made by a company call CIENTA shoes. I got them on Now if I could only find jazz and tap shoes for her. Any thoughts?

Toeslayer dot said...


Thank you for your comments. I have asked around and here is the best reply. "With the nature of dance shoes and their uses, it is not the type of product that can be easily made without using glue......I doubt you will find a manufacturer who does not use glue for the sole. You do not mention what kind of dance, whether it is jazz, tapp, or ballet. They are all different types of shoes with different constructions and materials.

If it is jazz shoes, then one suggestion I can make, is to remove the soles from the shoes, buff the glue off, and have a shoe repair shop sew the soles back on.

Anonymous said...

I have bought a pair of leather converse and it took me a while to realize that they were probably manufactured with banned substance (China has the reputation of using banned colorants on their leather). These converse shoes were made in China.
I threw the pair out ($180 later...)

Daniel Sullivan said...

About 2 years ago I developed what looked like poison oak on big toe. It slowly spread around sole of foot in between toes on on toes themselves. I also have the rash that starts as little brownish dots on my hands. It's mainly on palms and in between fingers. I've gone to derm. Tons of times they did biopsy (contact dermatitis).I went doctor shopping for last year and a half to get injectable steroid shots. That is the only thing that will get rid of rash for 3-4 weeks. Then the cycle starts over. My insurance doesn't cover bill to get allergy test. I am pretty sure the chemicals in shoes are what I developed a reaction to. I changed almost everything I touch with no relief. Except my shoes always wear nike or other shoes about $75. I want a pair of shoes that are free of chemicals that I may be allergic to. Since rash is around edges of feet and toes I believe the insoles are the culprit.I think from touching the shoes and my socks are reason I have reaction on hands. I am in construction so I need a durable pair of low cut boots. Can anyone help me I am tired of tring to get steroid shots every month and I'm pretty sure it isn't good for me. If you can help me my email is my name is Dan

Attires.Best said...

Oh!! Thanks for this informative post... Thanks for sharing...

Please check : Footwears Club

Unknown said...

Hello! I’m so happy to find a website like this. I’m hoping to help and to also be helped. I’m allergic to latex. Have been for many years. Now, thanks to new gloves at work, I’m now allergic to a group of chemicals called Carba Mix. All the shoes that I used to be able to wear, I no longer can. I don’t get dermatitis yet, but my feet burn and itch and I get a terrible taste in my mouth.
I can’t even wear my Crocs....I feel destroyed right now....I’m looking into every option including hiring someone to make me moccasins.

Isabel Fernandes said...

This info is well worth reading.
Very in-depth indeed.
Thumbs up!
Good work must be appreciate.
Looking for consistent updates from you.