Are you struggling to get your child with eczema dressed? Maybe the problem is not your child. Perhaps the issue is the clothing your child is wearing! Have you checked the label on your child’s clothes recently? Clothing containing synthetic fabrics - especially polyester - is a known irritant for kids with eczema. Keep reading to discover the relationship between your child’s clothing and their eczema. Better mornings are possible with better fabrics.
What is Polyester?
Polyester is one of the most common fabrics in clothing today. The fabric was introduced in the 1950s and has been popular ever since because it’s resistant to wrinkles and shrinking, easy to care for, and can be made into many styles of clothing. So what exactly is polyester you ask? Polyester is derived from petroleum. That’s right! Polyester is a synthetic material that comes from oil and closely resembles plastic. It is made through polymerization, which is a chemical reaction occurring among petroleum, air, and water. Today more than 60% of clothing contains polyester and other synthetic fibers.
Is Polyester Bad for Your Skin?
The short answer is a resounding “yes”! Synthetic fabrics are the absolute worst for skin health. There are several reasons. First and foremost, polyester is essentially a form of plastic. Plastic does not breathe, which means polyester keeps moisture against your skin rather than allowing it to escape. This excess moisture creates the potential for irritation. Polyester is also made from toxic substances. Beyond the main ingredient of oil, polyester is processed using perfluorochemicals (PFCs). PFCs are known to have adverse impacts on growth and development, sexual function and reproduction, and the liver. Many are known carcinogens (i.e., cancer causing agents) as well.
How Does Polyester Affect Eczema?
Though it may feel soft to the touch, polyester and polyester blends are bad for kids with eczema.
1. Polyester does not breathe
One of the main triggers of eczema is sweating. Polyester does not breathe and traps moisture against your skin, causing sensitive skin to break out in a rash.
2. Polyester contains chemicals that are known to irritate skin
These chemicals, most notably perfluorochemicals (PFCs) are known to aggravate sensitive skin, affect growth and development, and even cause cancer!
3. Polyester breaks down
As polyester loses its structure, the fibers become disjoined, poke out, and create an abrasive surface against skin. When this occurs, polyester garments become even more itchy and irritating than they already are.
What are Some Better Alternatives to Polyester?
The best alternatives to polyester are fabrics made from natural sources. Top alternative options include:
1. Organic Cotton
Look for 100% organic cotton, preferably GOTS certified organic cotton. Cotton is naturally soft and great at absorbing moisture. It is often blended with other fabrics (including polyester), so be sure to read the label on clothing marketed as “cotton” to ensure it is truly 100% cotton before you purchase it for kids.
2. TENCEL™ Lyocell
TENCEL™ Lyocell is derived from Eucalyptus trees and uses a closed loop process to recycle chemicals used during production. Beyond being another breathable and incredibly soft material, TENCEL™ Lyocell is more eco-friendly than bamboo and naturally hypoallergenic.
3. TENCEL™ Modal
TENCEL™ Modal is similar to TENCEL™ Lyocell, but made from Beechwood trees instead of Eucalyptus. It is also super soft and comfy with an almost buttery feel to the touch. Its durability makes TENCEL™ Modal great for essential garments base layers and underwear.
Silk is among the softest natural fibers and is an incredible insulator, which makes it wonderful for cold environments. It may be more difficult to wash as compared to cotton, but “easy care” washable versions are available.
Bamboo is often cited as a great fabric for kids with eczema. It is super soft, breathable, and plentiful. The drawback of bamboo is that it is processed using harmful chemicals. While bamboo is certainly a better option than polyester, organic cotton, TENCEL™ Lyocell, and TENCEL™ Modal are superior because of the methods to produce the fabric.