Eczema or atopic dermatitis is a chronic skin condition characterized by a persistent itching and scratching along with redness on the skin. Finding the right fabric can make a big difference in the quality of life for children with eczema and their parents. As you may have already experienced, certain fabric can make skin more itchy than others. We will explore the best fabric for eczema.
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Clothing material can be a trigger for eczema. It can either soothe already sensitive skin or worsen it. The best clothing fabrics include cotton, silk and bamboo, which are commonly used for AD. You should avoid synthetic fabric materials such as nylon, wool, and polyester.
Some common guidelines for selecting fabric for eczema include:
- Clothes that are lightweight so it will ventilate air and help keep the skin “breathe”
- Since heat and sweat are triggers for AD, clothes with absorbent material are important. The fabric should absorb sweat quickly and thus remove it from the skin.
Cotton is recommended for children with eczema because it is not as irritating for skin that is sensitive compared to other synthetic fabrics. It is known to be soft and breathable. This allows the air to ventilate so heat is not trapped. Cotton also absorbs moisture really well, but if it doesn’t dry properly it is prone to harboring bacteria and fungus.
If you decide to go with cotton, make sure to check your child’s clothes frequently during the summer. If it becomes damp from sweat, change it out with another dry cotton clothing to keep your child’s skin dry.
Here is a good example of excellent cotton clothing. This is the Mustela Skin Soothing Baby Pajamas. It is made of high quality 100% OEKO-TEX Standard 100% certified cotton.
Silk is considered a good material for people with eczema prone skin. It is very smooth, lightweight and comfortable. The downside of silk is that it is not the most affordable option. Also, there is not good evidence showing that silk is better than the standard of care treatment options. So I think it really boils down to preference.
On the other hand, a product called DermaSilk can be help eczema. It is an antimicrobial silk fabric, meaning it can kill bacteria. One study showed that even though DermaSilk is not as effective as topical steroids, it did still help by reducing itching.
Modal is another fabric that is well tolerated by an eczema sufferer. It is made from wood fibers which is taken from beech trees. It is considered synthetic fiber because it is manufactured using environmentally friendly chemicals. The production of modal requires less land and water compared to cotton, which also makes it environmentally friendly.
Modal is well-liked because it absorbs moisture, it is breathable, and it is very smooth. This is why people with AD like to use products with modal.
I really like the Handsocks Mitten. They are made from modal, so it is very soft and doesn’t cut my child’s face when he gets into a scratching fit.
Lyocell is very similar to modal. Lyocell, also known as Tencel, is also made from wood pulp but processed differently. Some advantages to lyocell are that it is very soft, breathable, and moisture wicking and just as good as cotton to reduce itch. It also has anti-bacterial properties. One disadvantage to lyocell, however, is that it is more expensive than other fibers because it is more costly to produce.
My son loves Eczema Company’s WrapESoothe . It’s made from Tencel with Zinc. He finds it very comfortable and refuses to wear anything else.
Bamboo fabric is advertised as being well tolerated by children with eczema due to its ability to absorb moisture and its soft feel. Bamboo fabric is made from viscose (AKA rayon), which has antibacterial properties. The viscose process is the process used to make bamboo into a solution and then pressed into fibers. These fibers are woven into material. Bamboo is also considered hypoallergenic which makes sense for children with sensitive skin.
What fabric should be avoided in Eczema?
Clothing made with wool is irritating, so it should be avoided. On the other hand, Merino wool can be ok for eczema, since it is softer and thinner than regular wool. Merino wool is from Merino sheep.
There are many types of synthetic fibers such as rayon (AKA viscose, mentioned above), nylon, polyester, acrylic, and spandex. Synthetic fibers are manufactured with chemicals. Natural fibers (non-synthetic) include cotton and silk.
Why is polyester bad for eczema?
Polyester is bad for eczema for several reasons. First, it is not good at absorbing moisture so the skin will continue to be damp, which can contribute to bacterial growth. This can worsen itchy skin and cause bad odor. Also, the polyester fibers can irritate sensitive skin that is prone to allergy, especially those with AD.
Fleece is a synthetic material manufactured with polyester fiber. It is very good at keeping in warmth, but children with atopic dermatitis should avoid this. The warmth can cause sweat and increase body temperature that can cause AD to flare up.
There are many types of dye used for clothing and fabric. The dye that is most likely to cause issues is azo dye. Fortunately, azo dyes are being restricted from being used. If your child does have a reaction while wearing clothes that are dyed, consider looking into the dye as the problem. Azo dye is used in printing ink and pigments.
If you have concerns about dye in your child’s eczema clothing, look for brands that have OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certification. OEKO-TEX doesn’t allow azo dye, nickel, formaldehyde, etc.
Also watch out for stamped patterns that use dye or other chemicals. These can also irritate sensitive skin.
Zipper and buttons may be manufactured with certain metals such as nickel which many people with eczema skin may be sensitive to. Check to see if the area of AD is in contact with clothing fastener. If so, consider that the fastener is the problem and look into other clothing that uses different materials for the zipper or buttons.
As you can see, there are certain fabrics which are better for people with sensitive skin. If there is any other material that you recommend for sensitive skin that has not been mentioned above, please leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts. Click the link to learn about the best crib sheets for eczema .