Itching & Scratching
Why is cotton recommended for people with eczema, and what other fabrics are suitable for wearing next to the skin?
Many people with eczema find cotton clothing and bedding preferable, as it is more comfortable than wool or synthetic fibres. Cotton is smooth and cool, as it allows the skin to breathe and prevents overheating.
Most people prefer 100% cotton, but some can tolerate a mixture of cotton and another material. Many people with eczema can also wear silk, linen or soft acrylic next to their skin.
Always pre-wash coloured cotton to remove potential irritants such as loose dyes. Cheaper products can cause problems as they may have been finished with an irritant chemical called formaldehyde, which can trigger a flare-up in some people.
Be wary of 100% cotton that can only be washed at low temperatures, as this may have also been coated with a chemical finish.
Look out for rough seams or edges on cotton clothing and bedding. Washing labels can be cut out of clothing if they cause irritation.
How can I reduce the Itching?
Itching is one of the worst symptoms of eczema. There are many methods of reducing the itchiness of the skin and minimising the damage of scratching. Cotton clothing and bedding keep the skin cool and allow it to breathe, whereas synthetic fabrics and wool can irritate.
The use of a non-biological washing powder and avoidance of fabric conditioner can also help to reduce the itchiness of the skin. Nails should be kept short and the skin moist by frequent application of emollients. At night time, a cool bedroom temperature can be helpful as heat can trigger itching.
For children in particular, the itchiness of eczema can be very distressing. Distraction is often the best way of reducing scratching. Cotton mittens or all in one sleep suits can be helpful in reducing the damage to the skin occurring during sleep.
For children in particular, the itchiness of eczema can be very distressing. Distraction is often the best way of reducing scratching.