The Best (and Worst) Clothes For Babies with Eczema with Care Tips
Selecting appropriate clothing for your baby with eczema is more than just a matter of style; it involves avoiding triggers that can irritate their sensitive skin and trigger eczema flare-ups.
But what should you look for in eczema-friendly clothing? Which types of garments should you avoid? How can you ensure your baby stays warm without overheating and exacerbating their eczema? And what is the best approach to keeping their clothes clean and non-irritating to their delicate skin?
In this resource, Mustela’s experts will address these questions and guide you in choosing the right clothing to care for your baby’s eczema-prone skin.
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The Right Clothes Should Be Soft And Breathable
When selecting clothing for your baby with sensitive skin, the most important factor is to prioritize softness and breathability. Whether the fabric comes in direct contact with their skin or not, all garments such as shirts, pants, dresses, socks, hats, coats, gloves, and blankets should be made of soft and breathable materials.
This guideline serves two purposes:
- Ensuring your baby’s comfort even during non-flare-up periods.
- Preventing eczema flare-ups from occurring in the first place.
These benefits are advantageous for both you and your baby, as your own comfort is closely linked to your baby’s well-being. Here are some specific tips to consider when choosing eczema-safe clothing for your little one.
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How To Choose, Use, And Care For Clothes For Eczema-Prone Skin
Natural Fabrics Only…But No Wool
To avoid eczema flare-ups caused by clothing, the simplest approach is to dress your baby exclusively in natural fabrics. Examples of natural fabrics include cotton, linen, silk, and hemp, among others.
When selecting a natural fabric, ensure that it is smooth, flexible, and pleasing to the touch. The only exception to the “natural fibers” guideline is to avoid wool whenever feasible. Although wool is a highly natural fabric and effective for keeping your baby warm, its coarse texture can irritate your baby’s sensitive skin.
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No Synthetic Fabrics
Modern textiles have made significant advancements, and synthetic fabrics like polyester, acrylic, nylon, rayon, and spandex are now designed to feel soft and cozy. While they may appear to be a safe choice for dressing your baby with eczema-prone skin, it is advisable to avoid synthetics whenever possible.
Why? There are two main reasons:
- Synthetic fabrics lack the ability to absorb sweat like natural fabrics.
- Synthetic fabrics hinder skin breathability.
The absence of sweat absorption in synthetic fabrics means that chemicals such as ammonia, urea, salt, and sugar can remain in contact with the skin for longer periods. When these chemicals penetrate the protective skin barrier, they have the potential to trigger an eczema flare-up.
Additionally, the lack of breathability in synthetic fabrics exacerbates this issue. Air circulation over your baby’s skin aids in the evaporation and removal of chemicals, toxins, and other allergens that can cause itching and irritation. Without proper air movement, these allergens are more likely to penetrate the skin’s hydrolipidic layer, aggravating already dry skin.
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Avoid Turtlenecks And Other Tight Clothing
To minimize skin irritation and prevent eczema flare-ups on your baby’s sensitive skin, it’s best to avoid clothing like turtlenecks and other tight-fitting garments. This is because the heat generated by your baby’s body naturally moves upward.
When your baby is upright, whether sitting or being held, the heat rises toward their head. Wearing a turtleneck or any clothing with a tight collar traps the body heat around their neck and shoulders, which can quickly trigger an eczema outbreak.
Instead, opt for loose-fitting clothes made from natural and breathable fabrics. Choose clothing with open collars and wrists that allow heat to escape. This way, the excess body heat can dissipate, reducing the risk of eczema flare-ups. If you’re concerned about your baby getting too cold, the next section will provide tips on how to address this issue.
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Layer For Warmth
Ensuring your child stays warm in cool weather without resorting to wool or tight clothing is easily achieved through the practice of layering their clothes.
Layering serves the purpose of allowing heat to dissipate from your baby’s skin while still retaining it in close proximity to keep them warm. It also acts as a barrier against cold air and wind. Additionally, the beauty of layering lies in its flexibility, allowing you to remove a piece or two of clothing if your baby becomes too warm and needs to cool down.
Begin by layering with a simple cotton shirt or onesie as the base layer. Then, add a lightweight, natural-fabric, button-up shirt (such as flannel) or a thin jacket as the second layer.
In cool weather, you can also drape a blanket around your baby’s head and shoulders for an additional layer of warmth. In colder weather conditions, such as during snowfall, you can top off the onesie and flannel shirt or thin jacket with a winter coat to effectively retain heat where it’s needed.
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Use Hypoallergenic Laundry Soap
Now that you have a solid understanding of selecting suitable clothes to prevent eczema flare-ups, let’s delve into the topic of keeping those clothes clean.
The initial step is to utilize hypoallergenic laundry detergent. There isn’t a specific brand that is universally superior; it largely depends on how your baby reacts to it. Conduct some research, seek recommendations from friends or online sources, try a particular detergent, and if your baby experiences a skin reaction, switch to an alternative detergent. It’s as straightforward as that.
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Rinse Clothes Well
The next important measure in avoiding eczema flare-ups caused by laundry is to ensure thorough rinsing of your baby’s clothes.
Many modern washing machines offer the option to select the number of rinses during a single cycle. We recommend choosing at least two rinses to effectively remove any lingering harsh chemicals or allergens that may adhere to the fabrics after the initial rinse.
Even if you use a reliable hypoallergenic laundry detergent, it’s sometimes better to err on the side of caution and opt for an additional rinse cycle. Waiting a few extra minutes for the laundry to complete is a small sacrifice to ensure your baby’s comfort.
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Dry Your Baby’s Clothes Inside
We understand your preference for hanging clothes outside to dry, but it might be necessary to delay this habit until your child is older. Hanging laundry on a clothesline exposes the fabric to pollen and other airborne allergens, which can adhere to the clothes.
While this may not pose a problem for individuals with normal skin, it can act as a trigger for itchy outbreaks in children with eczema-prone skin.
Instead, opt for drying your baby’s eczema-safe clothes either in a dryer or by hanging them on an indoor clothesline. The good news is that this may not be a permanent adjustment.
By the age of five or six, with the consistent application of an emollient product like Mustela’s Stelatopia Emollient Cream or Emollient Balm, your baby’s skin’s protective barrier can be repaired. As a result, they will become less susceptible to environmental allergens and may eventually be able to tolerate clothes dried outside.
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Apply An Emollient Product Before Dressing Your Baby
To minimize the risk of eczema flare-ups, it is highly beneficial to apply an emollient product prior to dressing your baby. Ensure that you cover their entire body with emollient cream before selecting their clothes. Pay special attention to sensitive areas such as the backs of their knees and the insides of their elbows.
Additionally, you can use our Stelatopia Emollient Face Cream to safeguard their cheeks from any potential irritation caused by garments being pulled over their head.
By applying a thin layer of cream or balm, you provide a protective barrier for their delicate skin, guarding against triggers like rubbing, irritation, and heat that can lead to flare-ups.
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Reapply An Emollient Product During Diaper Changes
Take advantage of diaper changes as a convenient time to reapply an emollient product for your baby. Since they are already partially undressed, it’s an ideal moment to provide some care for their skin. Before fastening the diaper, take a few moments to gently apply a cream or balm on their legs, feet, and backside.
After securing the diaper, massage an emollient product onto their belly, back, arms, and neck. Then proceed to dress your baby in eczema-safe clothes to ensure ongoing comfort and keep them happy.
Wash Your Baby’s Clothes Before Dressing Them
Even with your utmost efforts, it’s impossible to completely eliminate dust from your home. Unfortunately, dust can act as a trigger for your baby’s eczema. While airborne dust particles are usually not problematic, the accumulation of dust on surfaces can become an issue.
This is particularly true for clothes that have been left unworn for several days. Dust can settle between the fibers of your baby’s clothes, and when it comes into contact with their eczema-prone skin, it can lead to a flare-up.
To prevent this, make it a habit to wash your baby’s clothes before dressing them. A quick rinse is typically sufficient, but ensure that the clothes are thoroughly dried in the dryer. Afterward, allow them to cool down to prevent any potential irritation from the heat on your baby’s eczema-prone skin.
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Avoid Itchy Tags
Clothing tags can be bothersome for children who don’t have eczema, so it’s easy to imagine how uncomfortable they can be for those with eczema-prone skin. The mere contact with a tag can trigger an outbreak that may spread across your baby’s body. However, you can prevent this issue by removing tags from all the clothes that are safe for your baby’s eczema.
Cut the tags as close to the fabric as possible, ensuring there are no sharp edges that could potentially irritate your baby’s skin. If your baby’s skin still gets irritated by the residual tag material, you can cover it with a small piece of silk or soft cotton.
Ideally, when purchasing eczema clothes, try to choose items that are tagless to begin with for optimal comfort.
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Make Sure Your Baby’s Clothes Don’t Contain Chemicals Or Dyes
Most contemporary clothing incorporates chemicals into the fabric to prevent the growth of bacteria. While this is beneficial for maintaining hygiene, these chemicals can pose problems for individuals with eczema-prone skin.
Even clothing without added chemicals can still trigger eczema flare-ups due to the dyes used for coloring the fabric, which can irritate sensitive skin.
When purchasing clothes suitable for eczema, it is essential to carefully read the labels and opt for fabrics that are free from added chemicals. Additionally, choosing white cotton fabric can help avoid potential issues caused by dyes.
However, it’s worth noting that manufacturers may not always disclose all the components present in their clothing, such as chemicals and dyes. To safeguard against these potential allergens, applying a layer of emollient cream or balm can help prevent eczema flare-ups.
Cover Thick Seams
Thick seams can pose a potential risk of irritation for your baby’s sensitive skin. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to determine which seams may cause discomfort just by visual inspection or touch. You may only realize that the seams are problematic when they result in a flare-up.
However, before you consider discarding a cute shirt or adorable onesie that is perfect in every other aspect, you can try a helpful trick we mentioned earlier for tags. By covering the thick seams with silk or even thin cotton fabric, you can prevent poking, rubbing, and scratching that might trigger an eczema outbreak.
Another option is to look for baby clothes that are specifically designed to be seamless, eliminating this concern altogether.
Consider A Protective Base Layer
Some clothing manufacturers offer specialized base layers that provide a protective barrier between your baby’s skin and their clothing, helping to prevent flare-ups.
These protective base layers have several unique features:
- Thermo-regulation: They help regulate your baby’s body temperature, ensuring they stay comfortable.
- No harsh chemicals: These base layers are free from harsh chemicals that could irritate your baby’s skin.
- No dyes: They are made without dyes, minimizing the risk of any allergic reactions.
- Flat seams: The base layers have flat seams, reducing friction and irritation on sensitive skin.
- Tags on the outside: Tags are placed on the outside of the garment to avoid direct contact with the skin.
- Ultra-soft materials: The base layers are made from exceptionally soft materials, providing comfort throughout the day.
- Anti-itch fabric: The fabric used in these base layers helps alleviate itchiness and irritation.
You can choose from a variety of options such as gloves, sleeves, leggings, socks, shirts, or even full bodysuits with fold-over gloves. When combined with an emollient product, these protective base layers serve as an effective way to prevent clothing from causing issues for your baby’s delicate skin.
Wear Some Shirts And Pajamas Inside-Out
If you’re struggling to find suitable clothing for your baby or young child with eczema, a simple solution is to let them wear their shirts and pajamas inside-out. By doing so, you can move the thick seams and itchy tags away from their sensitive skin, providing relief.
This method can come in handy when all your baby’s dedicated eczema clothing and pajamas are dirty. Just grab any soft cotton shirt or pair of pajamas that are free of dyes and chemicals, turn them inside out, and your baby will have temporary coverage until their regular clothes are clean and ready to wear.
It’s also important to be mindful of pajamas with zippers, as the seams and zippers themselves can irritate your baby’s skin and trigger an eczema flare-up. Whether you choose to wear them inside-out or not, a quick solution to this issue is to apply a layer of emollient cream or balm on the skin around and underneath the zipper. This helps prevent any allergic reaction while your baby sleeps.
Keep Your Baby Comfortable All Night With Eczema Pajamas
To ensure your baby’s comfort and minimize the risk of eczema flare-ups, dressing them in Mustela’s Stelatopia Skin Soothing Pajamas is highly recommended.
These specialized pajamas are specifically designed for babies and toddlers with eczema-prone skin. They provide soothing moisture to your little one’s skin throughout the night. The pajamas are thoughtfully crafted with outside seams and tags, ensuring there are no elements that could potentially irritate your child while they sleep. Additionally, the adjustable snap closures allow the pajamas to accommodate your baby’s growth, providing long-lasting skin protection.
For comprehensive relief from eczema, consider combining the Stelatopia Skin Soothing Pajamas with Mustela’s Stelatopia Emollient Cream, Stelatopia Emollient Face Cream, or Emollient Balm. This combination offers complete and all-over relief for your baby’s eczema symptoms.
The Worst Fabrics for Children with Eczema
Children with eczema are typically advised to steer clear of rough fabrics and those that trap moisture against their skin, as certain textures and chemicals found in modern clothing can trigger eczema flare-ups.
Unlike fine merino wool, coarse wool tends to have a rough and itchy texture that can irritate your child’s skin and lead to scratching. It’s important to feel the wool fabric before dressing your child to assess its roughness.
Many conventional synthetic fabrics have a tendency to trap or retain moisture against the skin, which can potentially irritate your child’s skin. To minimize this issue, it is recommended to limit or avoid the following synthetic fabrics as suggested by a 2021 review:
If it’s difficult to avoid these fabrics altogether, a helpful approach is to layer them over more absorbent or moisture-wicking fabrics such as merino wool, silk, cotton, or lyocell.
Some specialized synthetic fabrics are designed with improved breathability or antimicrobial properties compared to conventional options. For instance, anion textiles are made from polyester fibers infused with crushed tourmaline, a mineral that emits far-infrared rays and negative ions. These properties are believed to potentially alleviate eczema symptoms.
How to Clean Your Child’s Clothes
Ensuring that children with eczema wear clean clothes is essential, but it’s important to be cautious about the laundry products used, as some may contain ingredients that can irritate their sensitive skin.
According to the National Eczema Association (NEA), it is recommended to avoid laundry detergents and fabric softeners that contain fragrance or dye. Instead, opt for unscented and dye-free products specifically formulated for sensitive skin.
The NEA provides a directory of products that have received their Seal of Acceptance, indicating that they do not contain any ingredients known to irritate sensitive skin or trigger eczema symptoms. You can consult the NEA’s Eczema Product Directory to find laundry products that meet these criteria.
Additional steps that may be helpful include washing new clothes before your child wears them to remove any potential chemical residues from the manufacturing process that could irritate their skin, using liquid laundry products as they may leave fewer residues than powders, and running your child’s clothes through an extra rinse cycle after washing.
It is important to note that finding the most suitable laundry products for your family may require trying out multiple options to determine which ones work best.
Opting for loose-fitting garments made from smooth and breathable fabrics can contribute to your child’s comfort and potentially reduce eczema symptoms.
Choosing clothing made from smooth natural fibers like silk, fine merino wool, and cotton is generally considered safe and comfortable for children with eczema. Lyocell, a type of fabric made from plant cellulose, can also be a good option for many children with this condition.
Some synthetic fabrics, particularly those specifically designed to be breathable and antimicrobial, may also be suitable for your child.
However, it’s important to note that certain synthetic fabrics, such as conventional polyester and nylon, can trap moisture against the skin, potentially leading to irritation. Coarse wool can also be irritating for eczema-prone skin.
To further minimize potential irritants, it is advisable to launder your child’s clothes using fragrance and dye-free products. Washing new clothes before they are worn, opting for liquid laundry products instead of powders, and ensuring thorough rinsing can help reduce the presence of chemical residues that might irritate your child’s skin.
Remember to pay attention to your child’s comfort and adjust clothing choices accordingly.