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.
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.
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.