Itchy This Morning? You Might Be Allergic To Your Couch.

Have you been lying on that couch all weekend? You might end up with a rash.

People in northern Europe have been suffering under the plague of the Eyjafjallajoekull volcano. And if that weren’t enough, their sofas are giving them rashes. Recently dermatologists in Finland and Sweden have been seeing patients with a strange, itchy rash all over their bodies. Like an episode of House, no one could figure it out until doctors put together that everyone with the rash had recently bought a new sofa or couch. Extensive testing revealed that people were allergic to a preservative that was used to prevent mold growth when the furniture was shipped. The preservative, dimethyl fumarate (DMF) was released from the material when it became warm, as when you lie on it watching the Red Sox and the Celtics all weekend.

It does not appear that DMF dermatitis is widespread in the United States, but it has been reported on feet from athletic shoes that were shipped using the same preservative. We dermatologists are now aware and will be vigilant looking for this allergen.

So if you get up from the sofa and discover that you’re itchy, don’t blame the dog. It might not be his fault, this time.

Photo: Spartography (flickr)

15 thoughts on “Itchy This Morning? You Might Be Allergic To Your Couch.”

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  2. Wow, that’s interesting.

    Is there a way to know if it’s been treated with that before you purchase?

    I’m moving back to America soon and will need to furnish my house, I don’t really want to run into this problem if I can avoid it.

    Thanks for the heads up!
    Susanna

  3. Guess you’d have to use Copper Pillows whenever you are sleeping on the couch 😉

  4. As far a I know, almost all the DMF furniture came from Linkwise, a company in China. You can ask who is the manufacturer and where the furniture came from. Where are you moving to here in the US?

  5. Very interesting article. I never thought that furniture can cause a skin itchiness and rash.

  6. It is unusual, which is why I wrote about it. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. I was wondering if you knew whether DMF that was inhaled from a gaseous form (released from sachets within the sofa) would cause a different reaction to that of direct contact with the skin? My partner fell poorly back in 2007 after we recieved our new sofa and to cut a long story short, was recently patch tested and DMF was included but although I saw a ‘area’ where they tested, he was told that it was negative as an allergin. I find it a huge coincedance that he fell poorly once usage of the sofa occured, any views would be appreciated

  8. I meant to add that Eurosofa were also another Chinese manufacturer of leather sofas supplied around Europe. My partners initial reaction was a purpuric rash that eventually grouped before ulcering and then infection, internal bleeding from the bowel and various other symptoms. After many many, months (and various different medications, some of which he’s only just coming off) the doctors could only best put the illness down as probable HSP (Henoch Scholien Purpura) but it was never 100%

  9. This is so strange! I just moved in with my fiance and purchased a slipcover for the tacky sofa. Now, whenever I sit on it, I break out in hi es all over!!!!
    I seriously thought I was going crazy….

  10. John Fryer Chemist says:

    Hi Cherie,

    Yes this chemical and its dangers have been known for more than ten years. A well kept secret so that catastrophe continues to happen. The skin patch test tells you nothing and may even cause the allergy that you are checking for.

    Liability must come from identifying the toxic chemical after the date it was known to be harmful.

    Too many toxins are ingested etc by us with almost total contempt by the polluters.

    I knew someone who bought a new sofa in 1998 or so and died in months from Non Hodgkins Syndrome.

    Impossible to prove but something in that sofa was the only recent allergy he could have suffered.

    Your case and the one I mention represent possibly a 95 per cent underreporting of the problems.

    A total number of cases even counting one per item of furniture will give a better indication than the very few whose complaints are upheld.

  11. John Fryer Chemist says:

    Similar chemical have been used for people suffering from skin complaints to help the skin recover.

    If DMF actually gives skin complaints to people and doctors prescribe the same things for skin complaiints it makes me nervous to trust the doctor.

    How many problems arise not from patients problems but from treatments?

    I find it demoralising that most substances that hqrm us are things like asbestos, tobacco and charred food all of which are natural products.

    When it comes to this DMF we are not being told of the full extent of the problem and with a ban back in 1998 by one country it has a histiry of at least 12 years and still in 2010 people are suffering harm.

    Not good enough and a sure sign regulators are out of their depth.

    Better to put millions to groups with single issue causes. A fund for a charity to look into toxic additions to furniture and clothing only would prevent these occurrences which EPA, FDA and the respective other countries regulators are clearly unable to act properly or swiftly.

    We still don’t know more than it causes a rash which is clearly a lie when there are known deaths.

  12. Ruth Seltzer says:

    OMG, I am convinced that the sofa set we purchased (and got rid of) is what is keeping my husband in the hospital! First he had a severe allergic reaction – hives, blisters, severe edema, closing airway, etc.. Now he’s back in the hospital with internal bleeding which they have yet to locate to stop.

    Someone, please help me!!! How do I find out for sure if the suspected furniture indeed was treated with DMF? I so desperately need help, no attorney wants to help me without being paid up front since I can’t prove the furniture was the cause! It was made by Cheers and we bought the leather 3-piece set from City Furniture. It had a horrible (unlike new leather) smell that wouldn’t go away and 2 days later my husband fell violently ill.

  13. I meant to add that Eurosofa were also another Chinese manufacturer of leather sofas supplied around Europe. My partners initial reaction was a purpuric rash that eventually grouped before ulcering and then infection, internal bleeding from the bowel and various other symptoms. After many many, months (and various different medications, some of which he’s only just coming off) the doctors could only best put the illness down as probable HSP (Henoch Scholien Purpura) but it was never 100%

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