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Why does wool itch?

May 27, 2020

why does wool itch

When we hear the word “wool,” many of us immediately think: “an itchy sweater that I want to take off.” At the same time, though, wool is one of the most beloved natural fibers out there. It’s widely used in clothing, hats, outdoor gear, and much more. The reason that wool is used so extensively is because of its natural, positive properties—in this article, we’ll walk you through the basis of wool’s great characteristics.


Why does wool feel itchy on my skin?

Depending on its quality and the strength of its fibers, wool can either feel cozy and soft…or, terribly itchy. Wool fibers have a scaly surface; when this surface comes into contact with our skin, it can lead to irritation. It all boils down to the strength of the fiber: thick, stiff fibers do not bend when they come into contact with our skin, which leads to itching and irritation. The average thickness of normal virgin wool is around 37-40 micrometers—but the human sensitivity threshold lies at around 25-30 micrometers. (Sensitivity can, of course, vary slightly from person to person.) The thickness of a particular type of wool fiber depends on both the breed and habitat of the sheep from which it came. If the sheep lives in a cool climate, its wool’s fibers are generally thicker in order to protect the sheep from the cold.

Why does wool feel itchy


Merino wool: not all wool is itchy

Merino sheep are originally from North Africa; today, they inhabit Australia, New Zealand, South America and South Africa.  Since the fibers of the Merino sheep’s wool are fine and crimped, Merino wool is especially soft. In contrast to traditional virgin wool, Merino wool’s fibers are only between 16.5 and 24 micrometers thick. Furthermore, the fibers’ crimped structure creates air chambers within the wool, which gives Merino wool an insulating and temperature-regulating effect. Its thanks to these properties—and more—that make Merino wool so beloved. Merino wool:

  • Is breathable
  • Can hold up to 33% of its own weight in moisture, which it then slowly wicks outward and away from the skin
  • Cools in the summer and warms in the winter
  • Is odor-neutralizing
  • Is antibacterial
  • Doesn’t wrinkle
  • Is a sustainable, organic, biodegradable material

Not all wool is itchy

Learn more about the impressive properties of Merino wool in our insightful blog post.


Giesswein Merino Shoes: quality is priority number one

Just as it does with any other type of wool, quality plays a big role when it comes to Merino wool. When crafting our Giesswein Merino Products, we exclusively use high-quality, mulesing-free Merino wool from farms in Uruguay. With the help of our 3D Knit Technology, the soft Merino wool is then formed into our unique 3D Stretch Material, which adjusts to fit each individual foot. Thanks to their extra-light sole made of EVA material and interchangeable Merino footbed, slipping into our Merino Shoes is a true delight. 

Don’t know what mulesing means? Learn more about mulesing and the origins of Giesswein’s Merino wool in this blog post: No to Mulesing.

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