Clothes and Eczema
What Goes With Eczema?
In a society seemingly obsessed with physical appearance, you could be excused for thinking that the sole purpose of clothes is to make a personal fashion statement. But for the adult or child suffering from eczema there is a lot more to clothes than what they look like. The feel of the fabric and its effect on the skin is crucial. The purpose of this article is to provide guidance on appropriate clothing next to the skin for those who suffer from eczema.
Eczema is a recurrent inflammation of the skin that tends to wax and wan. It is extremely itchy, and often associated with dryness and episodes of bacterial infection of the skin. Everyone’s skin has a moderate growth of bacteria, regardless of personal hygiene, and this normally causes no harm. In eczema one of the bacteria, called staphylococcus aureus, grows in large numbers and seems to act as an irritant to the skin. For this reason antibiotics are often used to keep eczema under control as well as moisturisers, steroids and the newer drugs that affect the immune system.
S. aureus is by no means the only aggravating factor in eczema. Others include the climate, stress, and chemicals. One potential irritant that is often overlooked is clothing. If you suffer from eczema, it is important to wear clothing next to the skin which at least does not aggravate the condition, and at best helps to control it.
The basic choice is between synthetic or natural fabrics. Synthetic fabrics are produced by the chemical processing of petroleum. These polyurethrane materials have a number of practical advantages such as stable colouring and durability, but they are not good for eczema. Nylon has been shown in clinical studies to aggravate the condition causing greater discomfort and itch than cotton.
Natural fabrics are derived from plant fibres, eg cotton and linen, or animal fibres, eg wool and silk. The choice between these can be guided by examining their individual properties.
An intriguing recent development is the addition of an antibacterial agent to the silk. The technique of treating fabrics in this way has been used for many years to protect operating theatre linen from contamination. In theory, a fabric with antibacterial properties could also be beneficial in eczema in view of the irritant effect of the overgrowth of S. aureus on the skin described above.
Silk vs Cotton
When it comes to choosing what to wear with eczema, fabric not fashion should be the deciding influence. For many years cotton has been recommended but there is now good evidence to suggest that this new specially treated silk is going to be the fabric of choice.
About the author:
Dr Rupert Mason was a GP for 17 years, a clinical assistant in dermatology for 12 years, and held senior managerial posts within the pharmaceutical industry for 12 years, specialising in dermatology. Presently he is the editor and principal writer for www.rashtalk.co.uk
Dr Mason is available for interview. Please call +44 (0)1767 627085 to arrange.
For more information about DermaSilk therapeutic clothing please log onto www.dermasilk.co.uk or call Chris Steeples on +44 (0)8700 42 42 32.