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Is Cotton Really Helping Your Eczema?

Aug 17, 2007
Patients with Atopic Dermatitis, or eczema as most people know it, have been encouraged for years to only wear cotton fabric next to their skin to help with irritation.

Cotton absorbs moisture and creates less friction against the skin than fabrics as we have known them, making it the best fabric for people with irritating skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. The innovation may have many positive points, it also has major drawbacks.

Recent developments may be giving cotton a run for its money, though. Milliken & Company has recently opened the market on its new fabric, Dermasmart. This fabric is reducing itching, peeling, scaling, and the appearance of dryness. Studies have shown the fabric to be preferable to cotton with most of the study participants.

This silky, lightweight fabric reduces itching, absorbs moisture 40% faster than cotton, and dries in half the time that cotton does. It is treated with a silver microbiobial agent, but it contains no formaldehyde or dyes and it will not shrink when laundered. The fabric is washable, will not shrink, allows better air flow, and has less friction than cotton.

The Studies

The first study was done using a short sleeved shirt on patients who had active skin disease symptoms on their torso so that the shirt would be directly on the irritated skin. For one week, the participants wore a 100% cotton shirt and documented changes in skin condition in a daily journal. They were also required to make notes about their thoughts on the shirt. At the end of the week, the doctor evaluated each patient, creating a base of comparison for the second week of the study. During the second week, half of the participants wore a shirt made with the dermasmart fabric and the other half wore shirts made of a different fabric. Again, they chronicled skin conditions and feelings about their shirt in a journal. At the end of the second week, the dermatologist performed a second evaluation on the patients, comparing the results to the base she had developed at the end of the first week. Dr. Draelos concluded that; The study demonstrated statistically significant improvement in skin condition and decreased itching in subjects with eczema, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis when wearing a [DermaSmart] shirt.

In the second study, another two week study and composed of 40 participants, the participants were given a t-shirt and pajamas each and instructed to wear each garment for four hours each day. One half received 100% cotton garments while the other half received dermasmart garments. Patients kept thoughts about the garment and skin conditions in a journal; they were evaluated for a baseline at the end of the week. In phase two, the patients who had worn cotton the first week were given dermasmart garments and visa versa. Again they chronicled skin conditions and thoughts about the garments in a journal and were evaluated at the end of the second week.

These studies found that 75% of the patients had reduced itching with the dermasmart garments, almost 66% reported less moisture on their skin, and 77% preferred the feel of the dermasmart over that of cotton.

While these studies and the fabrics integral qualities seem to show superiority over cotton, the fabric has drawbacks in availability and price. With cotton, people with chronic skin conditions can walk into any clothing store and purchase 100% cotton clothing, they have to order the dermasmart garments without even seeing them in person, which means they cannot try them on. Also, we only found one place to buy the dermasmart garments. The second major drawback of dermasmart garments is the price:

Womens polo shirts are $36 to $45
Mens polo shirts are $42 to $51
Lounge pants (unisex) are $54
Childrens garments range from $25 to $47
About the Author
Louise Forrest has created the ultimate FREE Health & Beauty guide. Find out how you can gain access to FREE natural skin care articles, tips and techniques at http://www.NaturalElements.co.uk
Learn how you can help care for your eczema at www.NaturalElements.co.uk
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