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    Wool and some synthetic fabrics can aggravate eczema by causing itching. Many people with eczema find 100% cotton or silk clothing and bedding more comfortable against the skin, although a number of synthetic new fibres are being developed which are well tolerated by people with eczema. Many people with eczema find that over-heating can make their eczema worse. It is a good idea to layer clothes and bedding so that the level of cover can be adjusted and the temperature can be kept to a comfortable level.

    It is now generally accepted that cotton clothing is kinder to the skin of eczema sufferers. The fibres in wool, nylon and other man-made fabrics tend to irritate the skin. Pure 100% cotton or a high cotton mix are now more widely available than in previous years and generally more affordable too.

    Silk, another natural fibre, is also a good alternative to cotton. It is lightweight, breathable and can help to regulate body temperature; keeping the body warm in winter and cool in summer.

    It is better to buy garments that fit and are not too loose, especially underwear and night wear. In particular, babies and young children’s skin can become irritated if there is too much room in, say a baby grow where skin comes into contact with skin (e.g. a baggy gusset leading to the legs touching).

    Choose clothing that can be boil washed, or washed at a minimum of 60 degrees. Dust mites and their allergens that get into night wear, for example, will be destroyed. Avoid 'crease-free', 'non-iron', 'static' or 'flame resistant' fabrics because the chemical treatments used can cause Skin Flare-Up.

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    It's that cat again.

    If you think you can escape your cat at work, think again. You might very well have brought him with you.

    A study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology suggested that people who are allergic to cats may find their condition is made worse by sitting next to a cat-owner.

    Researchers monitored clothes worn by cat-owners and by non-cat owners. By the end of a working day, non cat-owners working alongside cat-owners had a significant increase in the number of cat allergens on their clothes.
    It was found that wool jumpers could harbour 11 times the average amount of cat allergens and 10 times that of house-dust mite allergens. Clothing that was not often washed was found to contain more of both allergens.

    This study shows that people with asthma need to be aware that it is not just carpets and soft furnishings that can harbour allergens but also clothes. The levels of allergen on clothing will also differ according to the type of fabric and frequency of washing.

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    More of the same..
    Have you ever considered what you wear may increase or decrease your exposure to allergens? According to a study published in the November 2000 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI), certain types of clothing may attract allergens like magnets.
    Sandra D. DeLucca, BSc and colleagues at the Institute of Respiratory Medicine at the University of Sydney, Australia conducted the study. They took samples from the surface of different types of clothing by using adhesive tape and also used an intranasal air sampler to measure allergen exposure.

    The articles of clothing sampled included:

    A freshly washed T-shirt
    A T-shirt worn in the previous week
    A woollen sweater
    A non-waterproof jacket
    A long sleeve cotton shirt
    Air samples and allergen levels were also measured, for comparison reasons, when there was no clothing worn on the upper body.
    The study revealed the following information about wool sweaters when compared to no clothing worn on the upper body:

    Dust mite exposure was 10 times greater
    Cat dander exposure was 11 times greater
    The clothing article that caused the least exposure to dust mites and cat dander was the freshly washed T-shirt. Dust mite and cat allergens were higher in the clothing articles that were washed less frequently.
    The study also revealed increased levels of cat dander on non cat owner's clothing after a day working with cat owners.

    This study confirmed what researchers had suspected. Personal clothing is an important source of cat dander and dust mite exposure. It also confirmed clothing can transport pet allergens into pet-free environments.


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    Rubber-A Frequent Offender

    Rubber products often cause allergic contact dermatitis. Chemicals in rubber cause the reaction. Rubber-sensitive people must use something else.
    Many women with rubber allergy can wear under garments with an elastic called spandex if they do not have rubber-backed fasteners or edges. Girdles and bras with no rubber are available.

    Most cases of allergic contact dermatitis from shoes are caused by ingredients in the rubber used in the shoe's construction. Adhesives, both rubber and non-rubber, can also cause problems. Even leather shoes may contain adhesives. Shoes without rubber should be substituted.
    Rubber can also cause immediate allergic reactions, including itching or burning and hives (welts) under the rubber object. Some people experience itching and tearing eyes and, rarely, shortness of breath. This is more common in people who wear tight fitting rubber gloves, such as medical workers. Rubber gloves may also cause dermatitis on the skin of the hands under the glove. Vinyl or other synthetic gloves may be substituted.

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    Does colour matter?
    Apparently it does. Some people test positive to dyes used in clothing. These are normally the darker dyes, so wearing lighter clothes can improve the condition. Have a look at the survey below from the University of Ottawa.

    Division of Dermatology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

    BACKGROUND: Textile dye dermatitis is frequently undiagnosed because clinical awareness is low and because of the absence of good screening allergens in standard patch test series for this type of contact dermatitis. OBJECTIVES: To determine the incidence of textile dye allergy in patients with problematic eczemas evaluated at a contact dermatitis clinic, and to determine the incidence of allergic contact dermatitis to disperse blue dyes in these patients. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective study of 788 patients who were patch tested to either the North American Contact Dermatitis Group (NACDG) Standard Series or the European Standard Series, in addition to other relevant series. The Chemotechnique textile series was utilized in 271 patients (28%).

    : Forty patients reacted positively to 1 or more textile dyes, the majority reacting positively to Disperse Blue 106 (33 of 40; 82.5%) and to Disperse Blue 124 (32 of 40; 80%). Ten of 11 tested patients reacted to their own clothing, 9 of whom reacted to the blue/black 100% acetate or 100% polyester liners in their garments.

    : Textile dye allergy is more common than previously reported. It can cause marked dermatitis and widespread autoeczematization reactions. The most frequent allergens are Disperse Blue 106 and 124, which are frequently found in the 100% acetate and 100% polyester liners of women's clothing. We recommend that Disperse Blue 106 or 124 serve as the screening allergen for textile dye dermatitis.

    PMID: 10684387 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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