What is eczema?
The word eczema comes from the Greek word “ekzein” which means “to boil.”
Eczema (also known as dermatitis) is a dry skin condition. It is a highly individual condition which varies from person to person and comes in many different forms. It is not contagious so you cannot catch it from someone else.
In mild cases of eczema, the skin is dry, scaly, red and itchy. In more severe cases there may be weeping, crusting and bleeding. Constant scratching causes the skin to split and bleed and also leaves it open to infection.
Eczema affects people of all ages but is primarily seen in children. Those who “grow out” of their eczema during early childhood may see it recur again in later life.
In the UK, one in five children and one in twelve adults have eczema while eczema and contact dermatitis account for 84-90% of occupational skin disease.
Atopic eczema is a genetic condition based on the interaction between a number of genes and environmental factors. In most cases there will be a family history of either eczema or one of the other ‘atopic’ conditions i.e asthma or hay fever.
The National Eczema Society is an invaluable resource to inform and support those with eczema http://eczema.org/about-eczema.
Known allergens to avoid
Aqueous cream – Why is it bad for eczema?
Aqueous Cream BP continues to be widely prescribed to patients with eczema to relieve skin dryness despite research showing that if this is used as a leave-on emollient it causes severe damage and discomfort for those with eczema, it has also been shown to damage the skin barrier of those who have never had atopic eczema.
Aqueous cream was developed as a soap in the 1950's, as a wash product to be washed off.
It contains 1% sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and this is the ingredient that is known to cause damage to the skin barrier. Aqueous cream should never be used as a leave-on emollient as it is likely to exacerbate rather than improve the eczema.
Emollients play an important part in the daily management of dry skin and eczema – always read the label to ensure you avoid those containing SLS.
Avoid products labelled as Antibacterial or Antimicrobial.
There is very little evidence to suggest that the chemicals included in antibacterial hand washes and soaps prevent the spread of bacterial illnesses, however they can aggravate an allergy and should be avoided.
Over the years we have noticed a steady stream of products entering the eczema care market that claim to promote healing of eczema by using a variety of coatings on fabrics – some are natural, some chemical and contain Triclosan (trade names include Microban or Biofresh) – the bacteria killing ingredient in antibacterial soaps.
Research shows Triclosan can promote antibiotic resistance.
Triclosan has a toxic effect on aquatic life it has also been linked to thyroid problems in people and levels in humans have increase 50% since 2004. It is now being detected in human breast milk.
Some products are being promoted as being suitable for 24/7 wear, some have to be cool or hand washed because the coatings will wash off and most do not have any certification to show that the 'antibacterial or antimicrobial' chemical finishes will not enter the bloodstream and cause potential long term damage.
Clearly, profit is being prioritized above health.
It is fair to say that you, our customers, are becoming increasingly confused by the various claims and counter claims and we, Cotton Comfort Ltd, are increasingly alarmed at this unregulated minefield when there is no research to show the combined 24/7 use of clothing containing various additives which may or may not be compatible for use with each other or compatible with other medication whether applied or being taken orally.
This becomes especially relevant when we are caring for children and adults with thin/broken/eczematous skin.
The pollution to which we are exposed in our modern lifestyles has increased dramatically in the last decade.
Daily exposure to chemicals and electromagnetic fields is affecting the health of millions of people worldwide, from mild discomfort triggered by chemical smells to fibromyalgia (fatigue, pain, blackouts), MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity to magnetic fields).
The past decade has brought many more effective, natural, skin remedies to the market that can be applied as and when needed. We find that the new generation of parents are looking, not just for a 'quick fix' either in medication used or clothing worn, with unknown long term effects, but for a solution that is as natural, healing and non invasive as possible, which will not compromise the future health of ourselves or our children.
We have listened to our customers and considered recent research showing that overuse of antibiotics, antibacterials and antimicrobials is resulting in an increase of 'superbug' bacteria strains that are becoming resistant to our antibiotics.
See our other information boxes re Conventional cotton (containing toxins, coated with formaldehyde) Formaldehyde, Latex allergies.
We recommend that you do not compromise – always buy clothing and bedding that is 100% Certified Organic Cotton and ensure that you can wash these at 60c or above to prevent build up of allergen.
Ingredients used in Eczema remedies that are known allergens to avoid -
• Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) is a skin irritant, known to cause contact dermatitis. SLS is a foaming agent, commonly used in aqueous cream
• Aqueous Cream was developed as a soap replacement and should not be used for eczematous skin. Use an emollient that has no SLS
• Lanolin, although naturally produced from sheep wool it frequently causes allergic reactions
• Nut extracts & Oils, including Almond oil. People prone to eczema can also be prone to nut allergies. Over exposure to nut oils can trigger an allergic reaction (Note: the coconut is not classed as a nut)
• Alcohol is often used as a preservative, it is toxic to the body and has a drying effect on the skin
• Water, used as an ingredient/filler must, by regulation, also contain a preservative or alcohol
• Petroleum or petrochemicals
• Synthetic fragrances (also used in 'room fresheners'), synthetic vitamins, colours, perfumes, synthetic or chemical preservatives or emulsifiers
CUSTOMER QUESTIONS The right fit? Big & Baggy or a closer fit
My child needs the eczema nightwear - how should I choose the right fit? Cotton Comfort response:
Your child will not be more comfortable if the garment is too big. Sensitive skin and areas of eczema benefit from being covered and kept at a constant temperature. If the garment is loose then the fabric will move over the skin during movement and any rough areas of eczema will catch on the fabric and cause discomfort. Wearing clothing that is too big creates folds in the fabric that then make some areas hotter (and itchier) than others as well as being uncomfortable to sit or lie on. The fit should allow unhindered movement and be fairly close fitting without being tight. Beware of skin on skin contact within the garment, especially under the arms if the raglan is loose or between the legs if the gusset is too low The inside of our nightwear is soft and smooth to ensure maximum comfort.
My child has an itchy reaction to synthetic labels inside the neck can you help?
Our Cotton Comfort brand eczema nightwear, underwear and school wear all have tear off labels on the outside of the garment that can be completely removed.
Does Cotton Comfort clothing shrink in the wash?
We only use the finest long fibre cotton and allow for up to 2% shrinkage when hot washed. Tumble dry cool only, a hot dryer will reduce the size of the garment.
Caring for your sleepwear
How shall I best care for my eczema nightwear so it lasts as long as possible?
• Always wash new clothing before wearing – after checking you have the right size
• If you are using the medications/oils/creams associated with the treatment of eczema it is important that you wash nightwear after each wearing at the hottest setting on your washing machine. A wash that is too cool or too infrequent will result in a build up of creams and allergen on the cotton fibres which will weaken the fabric causing an uncomfortable bitty appearance, destroy any elastic and shorten the life of the garment. For most efficient cleaning always wash your clothing inside out. Keep finger and toe nails as short as possible.
• Do not use fabric conditioner, as well as a risk of an allergic reaction, fabric conditioners coat the cotton fibres, reducing the level of breathe ability and absorbency.
How long can I expect my eczema nightwear to last?
All Cotton Comfort garments are designed to last until the child is ready for the next size up - after 10cms growth, usually after approx. 12 months or so. The additional wear and tear and frequent laundering necessary for a child with eczema can reduce the life of a garment, dependant on the severity and medication used, by between 20% and 50%. We base this assumption on a rotation of at least 3 (preferably 4/5) night time outfits
Will my child be too hot in your eczema nightwear?
Children with eczema need to be kept as cool as possible - extra heat produces extra itching. Our eczema nightwear is of a mid weight cotton - any lighter and the child would be able to cause damage from scratching and any heavier would be too warm. We do not recommend the use of duvets with our nightwear as the child will be too hot. It is usually sufficient to cover the child with a cotton sheet and maybe a light cotton blanket
My daughter would like to wear a pretty nightdress - why don't you sell them?
By law all cotton nightdresses for children must be dipped in flame proofing chemicals, which often contain formaldehyde. Children with eczema or broken skin should not be exposed to these chemicals which can cause an allergic reaction. In addition, the fumes given off can precipitate a bad reaction in children with asthma. Cotton Comfort does not sell any clothes with chemical finishes. Be aware of different regulations in other countries, for example, all pyjamas made in the US have also, by law to be flame proofed
Are there any other chemical finishes that I should avoid?
Yes - be wary of clothing or bedding with labels such as easy care finish, stain resistant, non iron, crease resistant and last but certainly not least Teflon coated - all may cause additional skin irritation for those with eczema
Do you sell mittens to tie on? Like baby scratch mittens?
No - we do not. Eczema most commonly develops between the ages of 6 months and 2 years, at a time when vital hand/eye co-ordination skills are developing. Any constriction of the wrists and fingers severely restricts natural movement, delaying normal development of the child's fine motor skills. Thankfully tie-on mittens are no longer recommended by Dermatologists and nursing staff who recognise the damage that can be done by this uncomfortable practice. Tying mittens on to sore wrists and hands will squash the fingers, making them hotter and itchier causing additional distress and discomfort to the child. Any tie becomes narrow at the knot, causing pain when pulled against a sore wrist. In addition the knot will be used to scratch against to cause damage to the face neck and ears. Sore little fingers need room to move to facilitate the healing process. Using a Cotton Comfort Comfymitt T with integral mittens allows unrestricted movement of the wrist and fingers whilst protecting damaged skin and turning a scratch into a protected rub
Cotton Comfort Advice
If your child turns into a 'Houdini' to tear at itchy eczema and you have difficulty containing them in the nightwear consider cutting down a sleeveless vest and popping it over the top. Otherwise, try cutting a buttoned cuff from an old shirt, adjust the button so it fits around the wrist without being tight and button that over the top to prevent the hands being drawn inside to scratch
Cotton Comfort Advice
Keep nightwear, bedtime toy and spare pillowcase in a bag in the fridge to be cooling/soothing at bedtime Older children enjoy being 'in charge' of their eczema and often respond to having a spare comfymitt T in the fridge that they can help themselves to when they are having an itchy period
Cotton Comfort Advice
Try to avoid bathing your child before bedtime as the warm water/temperature change will make the skin more itchy - consider bathing your child in the morning
Cotton Comfort Advice If your child has pollen allergies or a tendency to hay fever then be careful when drying washing outside, especially if it is windy as pollen can be blown over the clothing
Cotton Comfort Advice
Do not hang mobiles above your child's cot/bed - they gather dust which then falls on your sleeping child when the mobile moves around