The Impact of Clothing on Eczema.
Difference Between Synthetic and Natural Clothing Materials.
Preferred Clothing Materials for Eczema-Prone Skin.
Pro Tips for Eczema-Friendly Washing Techniques.
How the Proton Health App Supports Eczema Management.
Introduction To Eczema Clothing
Irritants come in various forms, and sometimes, the most important one is the very thing that you wear each day - your clothes.. Choosing the right clothing materials is crucial in managing your eczema. It can either help to regulate your body temperature, prevent itching, and avoid irritation. Or it can be the very source of your itching and irritation.
Our trusted partners at Eczema Clothing are experts in designing garments specifically for those with sensitive skin conditions. Here, with their support, we're sharing years of wisdom on the best materials and several pro laundry tips aimed at preventing skin irritation.
In this guide, we'll explore the best clothing materials for those with eczema and provide helpful tips to keep your clothes clean and eczema-friendly.
Why Does Clothing Matter
Certain types of clothing, especially those made from synthetic materials or wool, can irritate the skin, causing flare-ups or exacerbating existing symptoms of eczema. The reason lies in the nature of eczema itself, which is often caused by an overactive immune system.
This makes the skin hypersensitive to triggers, causing it to react with inflammation and intense itching to things that usually shouldn't cause irritation. Fabrics with rough textures, too tight, or not breathable enough can trigger this reaction. On the other hand, clothing can also be a valuable ally in the battle against eczema. Choosing the right fabrics and styles can help to control the symptoms, reduce irritation, and promote healing by maintaining the optimal skin microenvironment.
This is especially true in countries where fluctuating weather conditions can make eczema management more challenging. The key is to understand the relationship between clothing and skin health, and make informed decisions that prioritise comfort and care for our skin.
What's The Difference Between Synthetic and Natural Clothing Materials?
Understanding the difference between synthetic and natural clothing materials is a critical step towards choosing the right clothing for your eczema. Synthetic fabrics, such as polyester, nylon, and rayon, are made from artificial fibres, often produced using chemical processes. These fabrics tend to be less breathable, trapping heat and moisture against the skin, which can exacerbate eczema symptoms.
Additionally, the smoothness or roughness of the fabric at a microscopic level can create friction, irritating the skin and causing itchy flare-ups. Furthermore, synthetic dyes and finishes used in these fabrics can also lead to adverse reactions in people with eczema, as their skin can be particularly sensitive to these chemicals.
On the other hand, natural fabrics such as cotton, silk, and bamboo are derived from plant or animal fibres. These materials are often more breathable and better at wicking away moisture, creating a cooler and less humid environment for the skin. This helps to reduce the sweating and overheating that can trigger eczema flare-ups.
Natural fabrics also tend to be softer and smoother, causing less friction against the skin. However, it's important to note that not all natural fabrics are equal. Wool, for instance, while a natural material, can be coarse and itchy, and may irritate eczema-prone skin. As always, individual responses can vary, so it's essential to listen to your body and notice how it responds to different materials.
Best Clothing Materials for Eczema-Prone Skin
When selecting the most suitable clothing for eczema sufferers, it is essential to consider the fabric's properties. Natural materials like organic cotton, silk, Tencel, and bamboo are known to be gentle on sensitive skin, breathable, and hypoallergenic. Moreover, they contribute positively to the environment. These smooth fabrics lack harsh textile fibres that can prick and irritate delicate skin.
Organic Cotton: A long-standing choice for eczema sufferers, organic cotton is a natural fabric with inherent softness and stretch, making it perfect for sensitive skin. It is absorbent, breathable, and durable, retaining its shape after washing. Organic cotton requires less water in its cultivation than standard cotton and is certified by organisations like GOTS to ensure no chemicals or harmful dyes are used.
It is easy to care for and can be washed at 60 degrees Celsius or higher, effectively removing house dust mite allergens and residues from creams or dead skin. Organic cotton clothes are readily available online and in stores across the UK, and while they might be slightly more expensive than conventional cotton, their benefits for eczema sufferers often outweigh the cost. For children with eczema, choose loose, comfortable organic cotton clothes that are resilient enough to endure playtime.
Silk: A natural fibre produced by insects for their nests and cocoons, silk can be cultivated without pesticides or fertilisers. Known for its strength, durability, and aesthetic appeal, silk offers softness, breathability, and moisture absorption. Wearing silk can feel luxurious – a welcome treat for those coping with inflamed or irritated skin. Silk requires special care when washing to maintain its quality.
Though it is generally pricier, the unique comfort it provides can make it a worthwhile investment. In the UK, silk garments are available in numerous boutiques and online stores. When buying silk clothing for children, ensure it is loose and doesn't have additional embellishments that can irritate the skin.
Tencel: A relatively recent addition to eczema-friendly materials, Tencel is the trademark name for Lyocell – a type of rayon invented in the 1980s. Made from wood pulp mixed with a solvent, Tencel fibres are compostable, biodegradable, and produced using less water and energy than non-organic cotton. Although chemical compounds are involved in its production, they are not present in the final fibres. Tencel is highly absorbent, making it suitable for wet wrapping or managing excess sweat. Its antibacterial properties are also beneficial for skin prone to cracking or bleeding, which increases the risk of infection.
Tencel is typically more expensive than cotton but less so than silk. It is increasingly available in the UK, especially from brands focused on eco-friendly clothing. For children, Tencel clothing should be selected for its smoothness and the fabric's ability to resist creasing, ensuring they look neat and comfortable even after a long day of play.
Bamboo: Bamboo is a soft, lightweight fabric that has gained popularity in recent years. With moisture-wicking and absorbing properties similar to Tencel, it helps keep skin dry while offering hypoallergenic and antimicrobial benefits. As a fast-growing plant that doesn't require pesticides, bamboo is considered an eco-friendly and sustainable fibre.
However, the process of converting bamboo fibres into thread for weaving or knitting does involve chemicals. Bamboo clothing needs gentle care when washing to maintain its beneficial properties. While its price range varies, it is generally more affordable than silk and Tencel. Bamboo clothing can be found in numerous stores across the UK, with an increasing number of brands using bamboo for children's clothing because of its softness and durability.
While these fabrics are generally gentle on eczema-prone skin, it's essential to remember that everyone's skin is different. It's possible, albeit rare, for individuals to have allergic reactions to natural fibres like silk or bamboo. As a rule, whenever you try a new fabric, monitor your skin closely to see how it reacts.
Another important consideration is the dye used in clothing. Even natural fabrics can sometimes be dyed with potentially irritating substances. Whenever possible, opt for clothes that use natural or non-irritating dyes. If you're uncertain, doing a 'patch test' by wearing the garment for a short period can help gauge whether the dye might trigger a reaction.
Lastly, irrespective of the fabric type, the fit of the clothing can significantly impact how it affects eczema. Tight clothes can cause friction and exacerbate eczema symptoms. Therefore, always aim for loose-fitting clothes that allow your skin to breathe and minimise rubbing. Your wardrobe can be an essential tool in managing your eczema, so choose wisely and prioritise comfort over style.
Clothing Materials To Avoid With Eczema
Synthetic Fabrics: Materials such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic are common examples of synthetic fabrics. Although they can be affordable and widely available, these fabrics are not typically recommended for individuals with eczema. Synthetic fabrics often trap heat and moisture against the skin, which can worsen eczema symptoms. Furthermore, they may cause irritation due to their rough texture or the synthetic dyes used in their production. The UK weather, with its frequent changes and dampness, can exacerbate these problems, as synthetic clothing may prevent sweat from evaporating, keeping the skin moist and creating an ideal environment for eczema flare-ups.
Wool: While wool is a natural fibre, it is usually not suitable for those with eczema. The texture of wool can be coarse and irritating, leading to itchy flare-ups. Wool can also trap heat, which may lead to sweating and further discomfort. In the UK, where wool is commonly used in winter clothing, it's essential to consider alternatives like layered cotton or bamboo clothing to stay warm without irritating the skin.
Tight Clothing: Tight clothes, irrespective of the fabric, can cause friction and potentially lead to a worsening of eczema symptoms. They can rub against the skin, causing discomfort and itching. Compression clothing, popular in the fitness world, can be particularly problematic, as it traps sweat against the skin, exacerbating eczema.
Non-Breathable Fabrics: Some materials, even if they are not inherently irritating, can worsen eczema symptoms because they are not breathable. Fabrics like vinyl or leather may create a non-breathable barrier that traps sweat and heat against the skin. This can cause overheating, sweating, and subsequent skin irritation. This is particularly relevant in the UK's variable climate, where such materials may seem suitable during colder months but can cause problems for those with eczema.
When choosing clothing, it is essential to consider not just the material but also the fit, breathability, and the dyes used. Taking the time to understand what works best for your skin or your child's skin can make a significant difference in managing eczema and promoting comfort.
Pro Tips for Washing Your Clothes in an Eczema-Friendly Way
Laundry Detergent Selection
Choose Liquid Over Powder Detergent: Liquid detergent is generally more suitable for sensitive skin as it leaves behind fewer residues that could irritate the skin. Use just the necessary amount - about two tablespoons per load. Overloading can result in residue on clothes and clogged washing machines.
Opt for Unscented Products: Despite their allure, scented products often contain perfumes and dyes that are unsuitable for eczema or sensitive skin.
Select Non-Biological Detergents: Non-bio washing detergents lack enzymes that can aggravate itchy skin. They are budget-friendly, and many supermarket brands offer them. An excellent plant-based option is Ecover ZERO Sensitive Non-Bio Laundry Detergent, accredited by Allergy UK.
Look for Hypoallergenic Products: Given the correlation between eczema and allergies, hypoallergenic laundry products can be beneficial. Avoid products containing SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate), a known irritant. Products labelled as hypoallergenic or carrying the Allergy UK Seal of Approval are generally safe choices.
Consider Eco-Friendly Options: EcoEgg's Laundry Eggs are a sustainable, allergy-friendly alternative to washing powder. Certified as 'Excellent' and holding the Allergy UK seal of approval, they can last up to 70 washes.
Other examples include:
Pay Attention to Washing Temperature: Different fabrics require different washing temperatures. Cotton can tolerate up to 60 degrees Celsius, perfect for removing creams and dead skin. Silk, Bamboo, and Tencel should be washed at a cooler 30 degrees Celsius.
Wash Clothes Before Wearing: Always wash new clothes before wearing them to remove any potential irritants.
Use Net Bags for Sensitive Garments: Wash delicate items like silk in net bags or pillowcases to protect them during the wash.
Wash Clothes Inside Out: This is especially important for items like mittens and gloves, which come in direct contact with sensitive skin.
Don't Mix Colours: Washing coloured and undyed fabrics separately prevents dye contamination.
Use Allergy Cycle or Extra Rinse: If you're allergic, use the allergy cycle on your washing machine or run an extra rinse to remove traces of powders or liquids.
Don't Overload Your Washing Machine: Overloading can lead to residue on clothes and promotes mold growth in the machine. Always leave the door open after washing to allow the machine to dry out.
Use a Double Rinse Cycle: A double rinse cycle can help ensure that all detergent is effectively removed from your clothes.
Clean Your Washing Machine Regularly: Run an empty wash above 90°C with a biological washing powder or soda crystals to help keep your washing machine clean and functioning optimally.
Safety Precautions and Additional Tips
Protect Your Hands When Hand-Washing: If you're hand-washing clothes, wear protective gloves to prevent any potential irritation from the detergent. Alternatively, consider investing in a machine with a hand-washing programme.
Conduct a Test Wash: Before fully committing to a new detergent, do a test wash to see how your skin reacts.
Dry Clothes Naturally: If possible, avoid using a tumble dryer and let your clothes dry naturally. The heat from a dryer can make fabrics rougher and potentially irritating to eczema-prone skin.
Prefer Detergents Free of Optical Brighteners: Optical brighteners are chemicals that make clothes appear whiter and brighter. They remain on the clothes after washing and can irritate sensitive skin.
Ditch the Dryer Sheets: Dryer sheets often contain fragrance and other chemicals that can irritate sensitive skin. Opt for fragrance-free dryer balls instead.
Consider a Laundry Detergent Designed for Babies: These detergents are often formulated to be gentle on the skin and could be a good choice for people with eczema.
Remove Clothes from the Washer Promptly: Leaving clothes in the washing machine can promote mold and mildew growth, which can cause or exacerbate skin irritation.
Pay Attention to Your Clothes' Care Labels: Always check the care labels on your clothes. Some fabrics require specific washing instructions to avoid damaging the material, which could potentially irritate your skin.
Avoid Detergents with Colourants: Like fragrances, colourants can be irritating to sensitive skin and should be avoided.
Store Detergents Safely: Keep all laundry products out of reach of children and pets, and avoid direct skin contact when using them.
Avoid Using Bleach: Bleach can be harsh and irritating on the skin. Instead, use a non-chlorine bleach or oxygen bleach if you need to brighten your whites.
Limit Fabric Starch: Fabric starch can stiffen clothes and potentially irritate sensitive skin. Use it sparingly, if at all.
How The Proton Health App Helps You Control Your Eczema
At Proton Health, we strive to make living with eczema manageable and comfortable. Our robust health app is designed to provide you with unique, personalised tips and strategies to help you tackle your eczema head-on. Leveraging innovative technology, the app automatically identifies potential triggers and patterns that might worsen your symptoms, helping you avoid them in your daily life.
We understand that everyone's experience with eczema is different, and thus, our tips are tailored to fit your unique needs and lifestyle. What's more, Proton Health goes beyond just offering advice. Recognising the importance of clothing in managing eczema, we provide exclusive discounts on a variety of eczema-friendly clothing products within our app. Our ultimate goal is to empower you to take control of your eczema, making it a part of your life that doesn't define you. With Proton Health, managing your eczema becomes a lot less overwhelming and a lot more doable.
To wrap up, looking after your skin when you've got eczema is not just about what you put on it, but also what you wear. Eczema Clothing, our partners, understand this better than anyone. They've spent years crafting clothes that soothe and protect sensitive skin, helping you keep irritation at bay.
Choosing the right materials, like organic cotton, silk, Tencel, and bamboo, can make a big difference, as these fabrics are gentle on the skin and let it breathe. Equally important is how you wash and care for your clothes. Following our laundry tips, such as using liquid detergent, opting for unscented products, and washing at the right temperature, can help prevent your clothes from becoming a source of discomfort.
Remember, you can find a variety of Eczema Clothing's products in the Proton Health app. Check them out, and see how they can help make your day-to-day life more comfortable.
We hope this guide gives you a few more tools in your toolbox for dealing with eczema. It might take a bit of trial and error, but with the right clothes and laundry routine, you can help keep your skin happy and healthy.
The type of clothing worn significantly influences eczema management, with synthetic materials often exacerbating symptoms.
Natural materials like organic cotton, silk, Tencel, and bamboo are favourable due to their breathability and hypoallergenic properties.
Each material has unique benefits, but they share common traits like softness, moisture-wicking, and being gentle on sensitive skin.
An eczema-friendly laundry routine is vital in preventing further skin irritation.
The Proton Health app is a useful tool in personalised eczema management, offering not only tips and strategies but also discounts on eczema-friendly clothing.