We have seen everyone singing praises of Alpaca wool, how it is soft and hypoallergenic that even people with wool allergies can wear it without any uneasiness. Alpaca wool is a soft fabric giving you a particular feeling of luxury and softness.
Alpaca farming brings Alpaca wool as the major product.
It is a well-known fabric in the fashion industry for its high-quality and the feeling it provides to the skin.
Alpaca wool has the softest and gentlest fibers but does that mean it is itch-free? Most people look for soft, comfy, itch-free alternatives for warm winter clothes, shawls, and sweaters.
Someone who has never tried superfine alpaca garments might be skeptical about this luxury wool.
Is Alpaca Wool Itchy?
To set the record straight, regular alpaca wool is not generally itchy. It is a bit special than the normal wool, therefore, soft and pick-free. However, it is normal for people with sensitive skin to feel a slight itch.
Some may find the regular alpaca wool scratchy but royal and baby alpaca wool is itch-free for almost everyone.
Some factors that determine how itchy the wool fiber will feel against the skin are
Lanolin Content – It can be an allergen for some people and is found in significant quantities in sheep’s wool.
Smoothness – Wool fiber has microscopic scales present on the surface of the fibers, responsible for prickly sensation. If the scales are smaller and flatter, the fiber will be smoother.
Diameter – Superfine wool fibers feel softer and less itchy against the skin.
Keeping all these factors in consideration, one can determine whether alpaca wool is itchy or not. Alpacas produce negligible amounts of lanolin, that’s why their wool is considered hypoallergenic.
Scales of Alpaca fibers are smaller and flatter, therefore, prick-free. Alpaca fleece fibers have different diameters but royal and baby alpaca wool have the finest fibers with a diameter of fewer than 21 microns.
When is Alpaca Wool Itchy?
Not all Alpaca wool is soft, itch-free, and skin-friendly, it depends on the thickness of the fiber and the blend. Learn about the best shears for alpaca wool.
In general, the determining “Prickle Factor ” of the wool is the micron count.
Microns indicate the thickness or diameter of the wool fiber measured in one-thousandth of a millimeter. This factor is a major one to add to the cost of alpaca’s wool.
As per the general rule of thumb, smaller fibers indicate a lower number of micron-count resulting in less prickly wool and more soft and comfortable garment.
<20 Microns – Alpaca wool of this diameter is generally itch-free. In fact, it is an ideal micron-count that offers soft fleece. Mostly, high-quality alpaca wool has fibers with lower than 20 microns.
21-29 Microns – This micron count is not bad either unless you have sensitive skin. Most people do not feel an itch or get a prickly sensation with this fiber diameter. Some people with sensitive skin can experience a light itch.
30 Microns – Thicker fibers with higher than 30 microns will likely feel itchy. Regular alpaca wool has thicker fibers, therefore, is a bit itchy.
Regular Alpaca has a fiber thickness between 23 to 40 microns, however, fleece up to 28 microns is used in the garments.
The finest quality royal and baby alpaca have approximately 18 to 22 microns.
More than the quality of the fibers, it depends on the thickness of the fiber to determine whether the wool will be itchy or not. Thicker wool has more itch than thinner fibers.
Royal And Baby Alpaca
Royal and Baby Alpaca are right on the borderline of “itch-free for everyone” and “still itchy for people with extremely sensitive skin”.
The micron count for baby alpaca is between 20.5 to 22.5. 20.5 micron-count means itch-free whereas 22.5 micron-count translates to mostly itch-free.
Even softer wool is Royal alpaca having micron-count lower than 18 to 20.5. Fleece below 20.5 microns is itch-free for everyone unless you are different.
If you have extremely sensitive skin and want to know whether your skin can tolerate baby or royal alpaca, first feel the fabric on your skin and see if you feel any irritation.
Is Alpaca Wool Less Itchy Than Merino Wool?
Merino is renowned for being the least itchy type of wool, so, is alpaca wool less itchy than Merino? As per many scientific studies, alpaca wool is less itchy than Merino. Alpaca fibers are smoother, smaller, and flatter against the surface with little or no lanolin content.
Merino wool fibers have a diameter of 19-21 microns whereas the diameter of Royal and Baby alpaca wool averages around 19 to 20 and 18 to 18.5 microns. Although alpaca wool has similar technical properties as Merino, however, its unique “semi-hollow” fiber structure gives it an edge.
Continuing in the direction of itching, alpaca woolen products are mostly itch-free. It does not cause any discomfort, however, sensitive skin people can feel a slight prickle. Regular or poor-quality alpaca wool may provide a prickly feeling but it is not the case with royal and baby alpaca wool.
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