This post is under review and in the process of being rewritten.
Benefits of Cotton Clothes in Eczema and Topical Steroid Withdrawal
People living with eczema and topical steroid withdrawal have reported that certain fabrics are associated with allergic flares and severe itching when wearing thick clothes and synthetic materials. Clothes made from 100% organically sourced cotton can help mitigate these implications.
Cotton is the fabric most recommended by dermatologists for people with sensitive skin and allergies. (1) This is due to its soft feel and inert nature.
Here are a few reasons why cotton assists in managing the discomfort and flare ups of eczema and TSW:
How can cotton clothes help manage Topical Steroid Withdrawal?
1. No latex proteins
Unlike polyester and other synthetic fibre, cotton does not contain latex in its process (be sure to check the manufacturer materials). Exposure to significant amounts of latex proteins daily may lead to latex allergies, characterised by itching and redness (2). Some cotton blends, however, contain minute amounts of latex proteins that may or may not cause an irritation, depending on the presence or absence of other allergy triggers. In any case, 100% cotton remains the safest option.
2. Free from formaldehyde
Special eczema-care clothing is made of cotton produced without the use of formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a potent skin irritant which is employed in the textile industry to reduce wrinkling (3). Specially formulated cotton clothes for eczema patients are free from the irritant, formaldehyde.
3. Generally allergen free
Pure, organic cotton is hypoallergenic. While this does not mean that it is impossible to develop allergies to cotton clothes, it assures you that the risk of such occurrence is extremely low. Organic cotton is not manufactured with any strong chemicals and does not contain any metallic ions known to trigger allergic reactions and episodes of extremely sensitive skin during topical steroid withdrawal. Some cotton may contain dyes used to imbibe a colour to the material. That said, white cotton is preferred for the most sensitive areas of the skin; the groin, armpits and face. For instance, using a soft, white handkerchief to mop up sweat is safer than using a coloured one, albeit a little harder to maintain
4. Breathable and washable
Cotton contains short fibres that are loosely woven together, and can contract and expand with change in temperature. This feature makes cotton fibres comfortable to wear, even in humid conditions. This is important to eczema and topical steroid withdrawal sufferers because a common trigger for flare up and discomfort is heat. Cotton is also easily washable and does not require any strong detergents that may cause hypersensitivity reactions. This supports the claim that cotton fibres are the first choice in the prevention and management of acute eczema attacks. More so, they are a durable option.
For those that choose to use organic cotton, be sure that it is GOTS certified. For a textile company to be GOTS certified, it must produce fabrics that are at least 95% organically sourced. This includes cotton, silk and wool. GOTS certifications confirm that a fabric has no pesticide residue, was not treated with any harsh or carcinogenic chemicals like formaldehyde, and contains as little dye as possible. The harsh chemicals monitored by GOTS include bleach.
Cotton clothes are preferred for sensitive skin because it is hypoallergenic, breathable and comfortable. Organic cotton is just an extra reassurance in mitigating any chemical allergens are in the production process.