Could you be allergic to tampons?

Could you be allergic to tampons?

Could you be allergic to tampons?

No amount of period positivity can distract you from painful, heavy periods, but being allergic to tampons can give you a period nightmare on a whole new level. We’re talking irritation, discomfort and inflammation - grim. Like loads of issues surrounding periods, it’s not talked about enough (we’re fighting to change this!) so if you’ve had symptoms, you might want to read on.

Ella’s Story

Ella* made the switch to reusable period products after using disposables for over 20 years. Her symptoms turned out to be allergies to the chemicals and fragrances used in disposable products. We spoke to her about discovering the allergy and making the switch to reusables,

I saw various gynaecologists who were all baffled. They could see that the skin was often red & inflamed but all their tests came back negative. I eventually got referred to a dermatologist but, again, tests for thrush etc were negative so they just prescribed moisturisers and told me I had sensitive skin.”

Finally diagnosed

Ella persisted and was eventually diagnosed with a form of Contact Dermatitis (a recurring itchy rash). The link between her diagnosis and disposable tampons wasn’t discovered until later, though.

I cut out fragranced products, stopped having hot baths, stopped using an electric blanket in bed; I just wore white cotton underwear and I only used soft white toilet roll. I also stopped using softener for washing clothes, and I used fragrance-free, non-biological, enzyme-free laundry liquid. This made a difference but the problem still persisted.

Ella got referred for an in-depth allergy analysis and it was confirmed she was allergic to chemicals and fragrances used in tampons and other hygiene products.

Specifically, Ella was diagnosed as having a ‘true allergy’ to DMDM hydantoid (1) & Sorbic acid (2), and sensitivity to fragrance and benzoates(3).

It was then I realised that my flare-ups could be traced to sanitary products, condoms, coarse or fragranced toilet roll - all sorts of things that down below was coming in to contact with.”


She decided to give reusable period products a go and the removal of irritants found in disposable period products has done the trick,

I found the pads much more slim-line than I expected and they were very comfortable to wear. The popper fastening kept the pads in place and I liked having the protection of the wings, plus it was great being able to just pop it in the wash at the end. Thankfully, it caused me no irritation whatsoever, which is the main thing for me.”

Because NORA products are oeko-tex® certified, you can be sure they won't contain any nasties that might cause irritation to your skin. You can shop our range of NORA reusable period wear here.

If you’re experiencing symptoms that sound like an allergy, get it checked out by your GP.

*Names have been changed.

Further information

(1) DMDM hydantoid is a chemical used in personal hygiene products to preserve shelf life by inhibiting microbial and fungal growth. It works by releasing formaldehyde over. This can be found in tampons and sanitary pads, feminine washes and wipes. It addition to being a known allergen, it is carcinogenic.

(2) Sorbic acid is a naturally occurring compound that is used as a preservative to inhibit fungal growth in cosmetics, sanitary pads and in tampons to help prevent toxic shock. Can cause irritations but is rare to cause allergies.

(3) Benzoates used in tampons to inhibit pathogenic bacterial growth, to help prevent toxic shock syndrome, each tampon can contain up to 30 miligrams of benzoates. Can be an irritant to mucous membranes.