There are so many options out there now regarding clothing our children. I see some little babies more well put together than me on my best of days! From fashion forward, to minimalist and everything in between.
For families managing eczema, the clothes and fabrics we purchase is just as important as the skincare we use. Our skin needs an opportunity to breath freely and be comfortable, both day and night. Here are a few of my best tips when selecting clothing for your littles with eczema.
100% cotton is best
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fibre that grows in a boll, or protective case, around the seeds of the cotton plants of the genus Gossypium in the mallow family Malvaceae. The fibre is almost pure cellulose. Under natural conditions, the cotton bolls will increase the dispersal of the seeds. The plant is a shrub native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world, including the Americas, Africa, Egypt and India. The greatest diversity of wild cotton species is found in Mexico, followed by Australia and Africa. Cotton was independently domesticated in the Old and New Worlds. The fibre is most often spun into yarn or thread and used to make a soft, breathable textile. The use of cotton for fabric is known to date to prehistoric times; fragments of cotton fabric dated to the fifth millennium BC have been found in the Indus Valley Civilization, as well as fabric remnants dated back to 6000 BC in Peru. Although cultivated since antiquity, it was the invention of the cotton gin that lowered the cost of production that led to its widespread use, and it is the most widely used natural fibre cloth in clothing today.
Because cotton is natural, it allows the skin to adequately breath. It is soft to the touch and non-irritating. It is also easy to maintain and keep clean. Read your labels to ensure the garment says 100% cotton. Even a 5% synthetic ingredient can negate it’s breathability.
Avoid heavy silkscreening
Those fun printed graphics on t-shirts and sleepwear are typically made from polypropylene, a form of plastic. The silkscreening blocks airflow and can encourage sweating, especially during the night.
Avoid embellishments, like buttons,
bows, snaps and embroidery
These elements require additional manufacturing which means more stitching and complexity which can lead to discomfort and scratching. Scratching can often lead to broken skin and possible infection.
Avoid Wool and Fleece
Although these fabrics are a great choice for staying warm they can also encourage sweating. Wool contains larger prickly fibres which can irritate sensitive skin. Some wools release particles into the air and onto the skin which can encourage itch. Quality, ultra fine wools like Merino can be a good solution for warmth as they do allow for good airflow but I recommend testing a brand before making any large purchase commitments. Some quality clothing brands will also guarantee their product for sensitive skin. Don’t be afraid to ask questions regarding a Company’s return policy.
Choose simple clothes that fit well
Purchasing a few simple, key items for each season (or until another growth spirt) is good practice. Choose a gender neutral colour palette to ensure they can be easily passed down and loved for many years. Avoid clothing that is too loose or too tight.
Hand me downs? Give them a good, long soak
We love hand me downs. It is so much better for our environment to repurpose clothing. The family’s laundry practices before they came into your home may not have been safe for eczema families through the use of scented laundry soap, fabric softeners, stain removers or dryer sheets. Fill a basin or large sink of warm water and plenty of white vinegar and let the clothing soak overnight before washing. You may wish to wash the garments a few times to ensure any chemical irritants have been properly removed.