Eczema is a broad term used to describe many types of skin rashes. These rashes will often look very dry, sometimes scaly and cracked in appearance and will have a pink to reddish-brown color depending on your skin tone. No matter where on your body you are affected by eczema, it’s almost always itchy and uncomfortable.
One of the reasons eczema is so hard to treat is that it is still very unclear what causes the disease. Many experts agree that it is due to a combination of hereditary factors as well as environmental triggers that may set off the symptoms. According to the National Eczema Association, 31.6 million people suffer from some form of eczema and at least 17.8 million suffer from moderate to severe cases of the skin disease. A vast majority of these sufferers are children, with eczema appearing in as many as 10% of all infants. Many children will outgrow the rashes by the age of ten, but some people carry the disease into adolescence and adulthood.
Eczema breakouts are often due to exposure to certain environmental factors. These triggers are different for all sufferers but the most common include extreme or fluctuating temperatures, exposure to certain specific microbes and allergens, consumption of certain foods, extended periods of stress and irritants in household products. Cheryl Lee MD Ultimate Eczema Kit can be a great relief for many sufferers.
Even though the Ultimate Eczema Kit can give relief, another potential irritant that sufferers often overlook is clothing. During flare-ups, people often feel comfortable covering some of the affected areas with clothing—but it is important to be aware of how certain fabrics can affect eczema before donning your favorite top or bottom. Below are a few of the most common fabrics and how they may affect eczema sufferers:
Wool (& other rough fabrics)
Wool fiber has been known to irritate eczema sufferers’ skin and is not recommended. Ironically, the main constituent of wool is keratin—the same protein that makes up our skin and hair. Though this would seem to create a fabric that is soothing to eczema-prone skin, wool is composed of rough, ‘spiky’ fibers that will rub against the affected skin often causing further irritation. Other ‘rough’ fabrics that should be avoided are polyester, hemp, mohair, and rough linen (fine linen is okay). Denim and leather will not irritate skin directly but some feel they are too hot which may also cause a reaction.
When you think of silk you likely think of smooth, soft, flowy fabric that feels like heaven against the skin. For years, this has given the impression that silk is beneficial to eczema sufferers but recent studies suggest that silk does not actually soothe eczema. While this study shows that there is no improvement from wearing silk clothing, this fabric is less likely to irritate skin than wool or other synthetic materials. Other synthetic materials use short strands of fibers that may create a rough feeling against the skin while silk uses threads made up of filaments that can be up to 800 meters long. This creates a perfectly smooth fabric that is less likely to irritate the skin but does not provide any actual medical benefits. Silk also absorbs moisture better than many fabrics so it is helpful for those sufferers who find themselves flaring up when they are perspiring.
Choosing 100% natural cotton is probably the safest bet for eczema sufferers. Natural cotton is latex and spandex-free and will not irritate the skin. It is a fabric that allows the skin to breathe and helps to wick away moisture, lessening the chance of perspiration against the skin causing a flare-up of eczema. Though it isn’t as smooth feeling as silk, if the cotton is all natural and has well-placed seams and tags, it remains the best option to help avoid a breakout of eczema. That being said, cotton is prone to buildups of bacteria and mold which can irritate the skin. Yet as long as wearers are consistently and responsibly laundering their cotton clothing, then it shouldn’t be a problem and should keep the skin feeling comfortable.