In the last several years, my body has become sensitive in myriad ways. Among the latest is the fact that my skin becomes itchy and breaks out in hives if pressure is applied for more than a few minutes in a single area. This is called Delayed Pressure Urticaria or DPU.
I first noticed this new problem after kneeling in the garden to weed out the non-natives one afternoon. I was wearing cushioned kneepads the entire time, but the next day, while attempting to kneel down indoors to do something quick, I noticed pain and sensitivity on my knees. When I looked, I saw that they were still marked with red circles on the pressure points. Touching the circles confirmed they were ultra-sensitive, even a full day after the kneeling activity.
As you can imagine, any tight clothing will leave similarly painful, red areas on my skin for hours after removing it. I have had to stop wearing any uncomfortable shoes I owned after an incident at a party where I wore my shoes for a couple hours, then had to do some walking (a couple blocks to a train station) to get back home. I could not effectively walk without excruciating pain for the entire next day and my feet were still very tender for days afterwards - a whole week, if I remember correctly. They felt like they'd been burned in fire. All my high heels are either gone or on their way out while I try to replace them with Dansko or comparably (expensive) quality shoes for problem feet like mine. Even socks with too tight a top elastic band are out for me. I've seen argyle patterns on my legs after a day's wearing. It's a bit ridiculous, actually. I take my clothes off and I look almost like I've still got clothes on, per the marks on my body that remain for hours.
Another problem with daily living is wearing a bra. I'm rather small-breasted anyway but because of the discomfort, I have been opting for tank tops this summer or loose tops to try to get away with skipping the painful boobie conTRAPtionS, but there have been times when I just couldn't go without. Time and time again, I found myself cursing the thing by evening time, throwing it in anger only too late after the itchy hives had made their appearance. The worst areas seemed to be the side straps, though I was marked with red lines just about everywhere the bra touched my skin.
Recently, a certain brand of bra was recommended to me and I became interested in finding something better. I tried that brand and wasn't too impressed, but fortunately for me, I had decided to check it out at the mall and made the most of my trip by stopping into another store to look around. I was also thinking it was time to re-evaluate my size, since I'd been in the same size for over a decade now, and the DPU made me wonder if it was unnecessarily tight on me anyway.
I took a careful look around at about 30 different styles of bras at the mall's JCPenney department store, looking mainly for inside stitching and fabric that might be smoother and more comfortable than most bras. By some miracle, I had actually found what I was looking for! There was a display of colorful bras by Maidenform called "Pressure Free" that had a cool, smooth fabric specifically on the side straps and no zigzag stitching on the inside to irritate me. I grabbed a few sizes and tried them on, plus a few other brands I'd seen, just in case they felt better than I expected.
The winner, hands down was this Maidenform bra and I would recommend it to anyone having a hard time with bras irritating her skin. (Turns out a slightly larger size fit me more comfortably, too.) They were not cheap at $35 each, but JCP always has sales and this time they had a buy-one-get-one-half-off sale, plus I had a discount coupon for $10 off my purchase to help me offset the cost. I committed to two in my new size and gave them the full test drive for a few days before deciding whether or not to "marry" this brand.
After several wearings, my only irritation at the end of a full day's work was the rectangular little patch on the back hook closure part. By habit, I was using the loosest hook option and something was just itching and scratching my skin on my back. I was sad that this might be as good as it gets for me, but I tried the next set of hooks and that problem was completely cured so I'm all set and thrilled to pieces! Now I can wear bras again and be a proper lady. Okay, well at least I can wear bras. ;)
Now that I knew my new size and had done a confident test drive, I shopped in earnest for a good deal on this same bra so I could replace my old collection. I settled on the online store called "Bare Necessities" and used my Ebates account to get a percentage back in cash (I love Ebates!) and bought enough to get free shipping.
One more thing: The colors are a little non-standard, but they do have beige, white, red (with some pinkish trim for some reason), navy (sorry, no black) and a black/gray animal print. Don't know why they decided on this set of colors but they could have done worse, I suppose. Perhaps if they sell better, they might add more colors to the selection.
I sure hope this helps someone out there. Feel free to let me know how this works out for you. I'd love some good news.
P.S. I'm in no way connected to any of these brands or profit from any mention of them except that I have an Ebates account and wouldn't mind a referral bonus. However, if you don't use my link, I'll still be happy if you find a bra that helps you as much as it helps me. My advice is free because I care about objectivity. That's why I don't advertise on my blog.