When you have eczema, you have to steer clear of potential irritants like dye and fragrance. While we know that it’s important to monitor which skin products you’re using, Jeanine Downie, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Montclair, New Jersey who treats eczema and also has it herself, says you also want to be mindful of the clothes and fabrics you put on your body.
This mindfulness constitutes everything from the type of detergent you use to making sure new items are laundered. Learn about the eczema clothing-care rules you need to follow below.
4 eczema clothing-care rules to follow
1. Always wash new clothes and bedding before use
“You can’t just buy anything off the rack without either washing it or dry cleaning it,” says Dr. Downie. That goes for everything from clothes to sheets to throw blankets. “You don’t know what additives and chemicals are in the fabric.”
2. Use Free & Clear detergents
When washing your clothes, you want to use Free & Clear detergents. These are detergents made without dyes and perfumes so you don’t have to worry about them leaving behind potentially irritating ingredients on your clothes. “Derms like the Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Free & Clear ($9) and Seventh Generation Free & Clear ($13),” says Dr. Downie, who is the founder of Image Dermatology.
3. Stay away from fabric softer and dryer sheets
“No fabric softener or dryer sheets at all,” says Dr. Downie. These products leave behind a coating on your clothes that’s full of fragrance (and can also damage certain fabrics). “It’s just going to make your skin itch,” says Dr. Downie. Instead, use wool balls ($11) in the dryer to soften your clothes and loose balls of tin foil to reduce static.
4. Ask for sensitive skin protocol at the dry cleaner
Depending on where you live, Dr. Downie says your dry cleaner may have a sensitive-skin protocol that allows you to get your clothes dry cleaned in an eczema-friendly way. Ask around to see if you can find a location that provides this option. And if you find one, make use of it.
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