Ask the Allergist
Should I Avoid Linen Fabrics and Flax Fiber?
Flax is a plant grown for both its fiber and nutritious seeds. The stalk's fiber is used to make linen yarn and fabric. The seeds are called flaxseed or linseed.
Allergy to flaxseed after eating it is rare. It is becoming more common over the past few years as flaxseed is used in more products. The ground seeds have been used for a laxative effect. It also has a high content of omega-3 fatty acids, which can have health benefits.
People with an allergy to flaxseed should avoid food and fiber (e.g., laxatives) products containing flaxseed. Anaphylactic reactions to flaxseed can cause:
- Itchy skin
- Skin redness
- Throat closure (in severe cases)
Linen is made from the inner fiber of the flax plant stalks. It can be found in textiles as well as lace. Linen is hypoallergenic and it does not contain allergens from flaxseed. Individuals with a flaxseed allergy do not need to worry about having an allergic reaction when touching or sleeping on linen sheets.
John M. James, MD, is a board-certified allergist. He is also President of Food Allergy Consulting and Education Services, LLC. He has worked as a medical specialist in the field of allergy, asthma, and immunology for over 30 years. Dr. James received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas and his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Tennessee. He is board certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.