Skin

Updated 13 April 2017

Silk clothes won't soothe eczema itch

Although scratching or rubbing areas affected by eczema worsens the condition, different clothing does not offer a solution to eczema.

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Although it may feel nice against the skin, new research says silk clothing offers little benefit for kids with eczema.

No difference

Eczema is a skin condition that can cause a rash and itchiness, and some parents believe that clothing can either worsen or soothe the problem.

During the study, which was published in the journal PLoS Medicine, they received standard care for their skin condition and wore either their usual clothing or silk garments. The research included 300 children from the United Kingdom. They were between the ages of one and 15. All had moderate to severe eczema.

After six months, there was no difference in eczema severity, use of medication or quality of life between the two groups, the study authors said.

"The results of this trial suggest that silk garments are unlikely to provide additional clinical or economic benefits over standard care for children with moderate to severe eczema," Kim Thomas, University of Nottingham, and colleagues wrote.

Irritating chemicals

Although it is largely a skin disease present in childhood but may appear occur in adults, incidences of the disease vary depending on the severity. According to a Health24 review an estimated 50% of children with eczema develop allergic rhinitis, while between 20% and 30% develop asthma.

Scratching or rubbing the affected area causes a further release of irritating chemicals in and under the skin. Clothing may irritate the skin but it does not offer a solution to eczema.

This prompts some to avoid dressing their children in wool clothes, and instead dress them in only fine weave fabrics such as cotton or silk.

Read more:

Causes of eczema

Treating eczema

Can eczema be outgrown?

 

Ask the Expert

Skin expert

Dr Suretha Kannenberg holds a degree in Medicine and a Masters in Dermatology from the University of Stellenbosch. She is employed as a consultant dermatologist by Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Academic Hospital, where she is involved in clinical duties and the training of medical students and dermatology residents. Her areas of interest and research include vitiligo, eczema and acne. She also performs limited private practice work in the Northern suburbs of Cape Town in general and cosmetic dermatology.

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