Why Natural Fibers are Essential for Eczema Clothing

By Gabriella Diesendorf (bio below)

Natural fabrics are composed of fibers made by plants and animals. Some natural fabrics include cotton, linen, hemp, cashmere, silk and wool. When you wear clothes made of natural fabric, you just feel good because you’re wearing fibers that are breathable, lightweight and biodegradable. On top of that, natural fabrics absorb perspiration, making them breathable, and less likely to cause irritation and trigger an eczema flare.

Here are some specific benefits of natural fibers that will interest anyone with eczema:

  • Cotton and bamboo are the most breathable and are best for moisture wicking.
  • Hemp oil has natural antimicrobial properties, as seen in this study, so in theory minimally processed hemp fabric would retain these properties.

Avoid Synthetic Fibers

For those with sensitive skin or eczema, synthetic fabrics may cause itching and rashes due to irritation or an allergy, as with contact dermatitis. Synthetic fibers also don’t allow the skin to breathe properly, causing sweat to build up on the skin, a common eczema trigger. Synthetic fabrics, such as nylon, polyester and rayon are most often made from chemically produced fibers. These chemicals can be absorbed through our skin, particularly if the skin is open as is often the case with eczema.  For these reasons, it’s best for anyone, especially children, with eczema, allergies or sensitive skin, to avoid using synthetic fabrics as they can further aggravate these conditions.

Read More: Your Guide to Textile Dermatitis – Latex Hypersensitivity & Polyester Allergy Explained

These bamboo gloves are cooling and make an excellent treatment for hand eczema.

These bamboo gloves are cooling and make an excellent treatment for hand eczema.

Best Fabrics for Eczema

Natural and organic cotton or sustainable bamboo are the best fabrics for eczema. Sadly though, not all natural fabrics are created equal. For example, pesticides fungicides and herbicides may be sprayed onto cotton, silk or any other crop or a cotton crop could be genetically modified, resulting in potentially harmful residues in the fibers and ultimately in your clothing, bedding, etc. To ensure your fabrics are free of these harmful chemicals, look for certified organic or Oeko Tex or certified pesticide free options.

When natural, breathable eczema clothing is combined with a good natural eczema cream, the skin will usually calm itself in less severe cases. But when a more serious treatment is necessary, consider locking in moisture by wrapping wet clothing over a layer of cream for an extended period of time. This is called wet wrap therapy and it is very effective for immediate relief, but it is not a permanent solution. For a permanent solution, consider an elimination diet and working on healing the gut.

Moving to natural fibers is great, but don’t forget to look at your laundry routine. Detergents are really harsh on eczema and sensitive skin. Check out our recommendations for Safe Laundry Detergent Alternatives.

 

gabriella diesendorf

Bio: Gabriella Diesendorf is a writing-enthusiast, early education specialist and mother to a super-cute little girl who is everything to her! She is trying to raise awareness about the importance of natural materials for baby clothes, blankets and swaddle bags.

FROM: Allergies, Eczema

9 Comments

  1. selenarae on June 2, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    The bamboo gloves are great!

  2. Lori Gregory on February 1, 2016 at 11:35 am

    Excellent information!

  3. Johnny on April 9, 2016 at 7:30 am

    I did this, wearing cotton sweaters, and guess what… More eczema!! They absorb moisture and that’s bad for your skin. Now I’m wearing half synthetic sweaters, eczema gone, no more flare ups! And it makes sense if you think of it!

    • Jennifer Roberge on April 13, 2016 at 7:34 am

      Hi Johnny – that’s interesting that your son had a bad experience with cotton. For most cotton is the best, most gentle fabric. But in your son’s case it’s possible he is sensitive to cotton or maybe even the chemicals used to grow the cotton and produce the garment itself. OKEO safe cotton is good or organic cotton as they don’t use harmful chemicals to treat the cotton. At least you’ve found a good alternative – that’s excellent!

  4. Eve on February 16, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    Hi guys I always check composition before I decide to buy my clothes. Unfortunately it’s not so easy to find clothes with natural materials in online stores. But recently I have found a website qualitago.com where you can find a lot of items made of cotton, silk and other natural or semi-natural fabrics from most common brands like Zara, AE or H&M. They show detailed composition, so you don’t have to click on every item to check if it’s 100% of cotton or 1%. They don’t have search engine unfortunately, but worth to check.

  5. Mehvasg on June 7, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    is viscose rayon ok for eczema??

    • Jennifer Roberge on June 8, 2018 at 11:35 am

      Rayon isn’t ideal for eczema, but really it different for everyone on what their skin can tolerate.

  6. suetaco on September 10, 2018 at 11:56 am

    I have found that wearing pima cotton on its own, or layered under all other fabrics has helped my skin a lot. Also, using sensitive skin laundry detergent and fabric softener makes a tremendous difference.

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