ITCHY! The Science of Wool Sensitivity

29 November 2023

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Ad description: Cover of the book Sheep, Shepherd & Land, and the words, "THE book about Canadian Wool, by Anna Hunter. Photos by Christel Lanthier. Buy now."

Humans have recognized the benefits of woollen garments and textiles for millennia. But if you ask a consumer for their thoughts on this venerable fibre, chances are you’ll hear the word itchy—a lot. Indeed, forty-three percent of those polled in a global consumer study declared that they would never buy wool because they considered it too itchy, prickly, or uncomfortable[i].

The science behind wool-based skin irritation is complex and includes factors like fiber size, the chemical residues of commercial wool processing, and allergic reactions to naturally occurring compounds like lanolin. Unravelling the root causes of wool-based skin sensitivity is crucial for both consumer and industry if we are to make the most of this versatile natural fibre—for humans and the planet.

All photos courtesy iStock by Getty Images.

Copyright © Michelle Woodvine except as indicated.
Head shot of Michelle Woodvine

About Michelle Woodvine

Michelle Woodvine is a Toronto-based freelance writer and editor on a quest to never stop learning and making. When not wordsmithing for others, Michelle can usually be found working on her trilogy of speculative fiction novels, learning a new skill, or goofing around with her family (including her very own rocket scientist, two teenage boys, and one feisty ginger cat). Follow the weird, wonderful, and wordy adventures @woodvinewrites or visit

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