27 Apr Employees Get New Uniforms After Rash Outbreak
Rashes, also known as dermatitis, present as patches of itchy, swollen, and irritated skin. Spectrum Dermatology treats all kinds of rashes, and diagnosing the type of rash and the cause is critical to future prevention and proper treatment. Most rashes are red and painful, but they can also turn into blisters or lead to raw skin. Rashes can be caused by just about anything, from medical issues to certain substances, materials, or allergens. Contact dermatitis is one of the most common types of rashes, and it happens when your skin comes into contact with an irritant like chemicals, poison ivy—or even American Airlines uniforms.
Over 50,000 airline employees are getting new uniforms from Lands’ End after three years of complaints that the former Twin Hill uniforms caused rashes and headaches. According to the airline, over 5,000 flight attendants said the old uniforms caused skin irritation including hives. Hives, or urticaria, is a kind of rash that presents as swollen red bumps or plaques. Hives are usually itchy, but can also sting or burn. The national president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, Lori Bassani, says, “There were flight attendants that couldn’t come to work because they were having problems with uniforms other flight attendants were wearing. It covered all demographics. It wasn’t just people of one age or in one area.”
Identifying the Cause of Rashes
American Airlines opted to change uniform suppliers to Lands’ End after the apparel company bested 20 competing suppliers for the desired airline contract. Unions also provided input and recommended Lands’ End. However, Lands’ End was previously sued by Delta Air Lines because flight attendants said those uniforms made them sick. Delta is currently looking for a new uniform provider. Currently, 50 percent of American Airlines employees will have to wear the new Lands’ End uniforms. This includes flight attendants, gate agents, and customer service workers.
Identifying the cause of a rash isn’t always so easy. When thousands of people, such as airline employees, are wearing the exact same uniform it’s pretty easy to figure out what’s causing the rash. When American Airlines chose Lands’ End as their new provider, they verified that a different material was being used to make the new uniforms. According to a spokesperson for the airline, Lindsey Martin, “Everything has been tested down to the zipper.” In the interim between complaining about the old uniforms and getting new ones, airline employees have been either wearing much older uniforms that didn’t cause rashes or have been wearing personal clothes.
If you have a rash, and especially recurring rashes, but aren’t sure of the cause it’s critical to work with a dermatologist. Virtually anything can cause a rash, and you can become sensitive to irritants that previously didn’t bother you. It’s even possible for some people to be “immune” to common irritants like poison ivy or poison oak and then lose that tolerance. Identifying the cause of a rash (if one exists) so you can avoid it is critical to your well-being.
The Friendly Skies (Rash-Free)
American Airlines employees just started wearing their new uniforms in March, so it’s too early to tell if these uniforms will let them be comfortable and rash-free. However, Delta Air Lines employees have their doubts. In their lawsuit, Delta employees claimed that the chemical finishes that Lands’ End uses were the cause of rashes, respiratory trouble, vertigo, headaches, and problems concentrating. The chemical finishes were added because, “These uniforms are high stretch, wrinkle and stain-resistant, waterproof, anti-static, and deodorizing,” according to the lawsuit. “Lands’ End used various chemical additives and finishes to achieve these characteristics.” Ultimately, the lawsuit was dropped and Delta decided to simply switch uniforms.
Chemicals aren’t just added to uniforms, and today’s apparel is usually far from all-natural. These chemicals, as well as the cleaning solutions used to take care of them, can contain a range of ingredients that can cause rashes. However, this is just one common cause of rashes that you can work towards identifying with the help of your dermatologist. If you or your child has a rash, it’s best to see a dermatologist during an outbreak for the best chance of treatment and correct trigger identification. Contact Spectrum Dermatology today at (480) 948-8400 to schedule your appointment.