Silicone and Skin Irritation: What You Need to Know


Recent health scandals related to breast implant products like the PIP implant scandal have made many women concerned about the health effects of silicone. Can silicone, an important substance used in the production of breast implants and adhesive clothing, increase the risk of cancer like other “safe” medical substances?

When examining the health risks of silicone, it’s important to group them into two categories:

  • Health risks related to product malfunction, such as silicone gel leaking from a ruptured breast implant
  • Health risks related to allergic reactions or low grade silicone, such as skin irritation from a silicone adhesive bra

Silicone breast implants have a somewhat troubled history. Throughout the 1990s, many patients filed lawsuits against manufacturers of silicone and saline implants after leaks and ruptures led to the need for urgent surgery and exposed them to serious health risks.

Today, the industry has largely cleaned up these cases by manufacturing products to a far higher standard. Ruptures are a much less common occurrence, although they can still happen. When they do happen, the consequences can be exceptionally serious.

Side effects of ruptured silicone implants can include toxic shock syndrome as a result of silicone coming into contact with the bloodstream, skin rupture and skin necrosis. There is also a risk of bacterial infection — one that many women are not made adequately aware of.

The second category, health risks related to allergic reactions or skin irritation caused by the use of low grade silicone, is also a serious issue. Millions of women wear adhesive bras or nipple covers with silicone cups, typically to conceal a bra outline beneath a dress. Many of these bras are made using low quality silicone in an effort to increase profit margins.

The low quality silicone used in many adhesive products creates the potential for an allergic reaction to silicone, which can potentially lead to anaphylactic shock and other serious health risks. Other issues include skin irritation and rash, which can occur as a result of exposure to the low quality, often cheaply manufactured silicone used in these garments.

This isn’t just a problem reported by users of silicone garments – it’s also backed up by real data. A study by the American Academy or Orthotists and Prosthetists indicates that many amputees experience severe all

Most of us think of silicone as a safe, risk-free substance used in everything from kitchen equipment to medical products. Few people are aware of its health risks. Whether you’re considering cosmetic surgery using a silicone implant or simply wear silicone adhesive garments, it’s important to be aware of the potential health risks that can stem from exposure to this substance.

James McNeally