Babies and children spend a significant amount of their time, well … sleeping. Sleep is beneficial for both our mental and physical health, allowing our bodies to restore and regenerate. For eczema families, the sleepwear we choose is essential to ensure we utilize these beautiful, restful times to their fullest potential. We are allowing the skin to heal.
Here are a few suggestions regarding making kind sleepwear choices for those 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 fiber 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 fiber 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 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 breathe adequately. 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 its breathability.
Avoid heavy silk-screening
Those fun printed graphics on PJs are typically made from polypropylene, a form of plastic. The silk-screening 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, leading to discomfort and scratching. Scratching can often lead to broken skin and possible infection.
Avoid Wool and Fleece
Although these fabrics are an excellent choice for staying warm, they can also encourage sweating. Wool contains larger prickly fibers, which can irritate sensitive skin. Some wools release particles into the air and onto the skin, which can promote itch. Quality, ultra-fine wools like Merino can be the right solution for warmth as they allow for proper airflow. Still, I recommend testing a brand before making any significant 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.
Sleep-sacks and bedsheets
Use the above best practices to make good choices regarding sleep-sacks and bedsheets. You may find this quite tricky! I have spent a lot of time squinting in stores, trying to read the teeny-tiny tags to find 100% cotton options. Many sleep-sack manufacturers use poly fibers as filling or stuffing, which negates their breathability and can encourage sweating. Read your labels and ask questions. If you find a 100% cotton brand you like, perhaps purchase the next size up for future use. Choose a neutral colour that can be easily passed down.
By being mindful about the fabrics you are choosing, have you noticed an improvement in your family’s eczema frequency or severity? We would love to hear from you! Please feel open to share your tips or experiences. It takes a village.