Eczema is on the rise, with an astonishing 1.5 million adults living with the uncomfortable condition. Also known as dermatitis, the non-contagious, inflammatory dry-skin condition currently affects 1 in 5 children and 1 in 10 adults, and the numbers are still increasing.
In fact, it is now considered one of the most common skin disorders in the world, signalling a growing need for increased awareness, advanced treatments, and further research into its causes and management.
James Higgins, a sleep expert and CEO of Ethical Bedding, the UK’s only BCorp sustainable bedding brand, has undertaken some research into how you can alleviate symptoms of the condition just by choosing the correct bedding. He says: “If you suffer from eczema, you’ll naturally be looking for ways to prevent flare-ups and keep discomfort to a minimum. This is where your bedding comes in, with soft, breathable, and hypoallergenic sheets, duvet covers, and pillowcases being the ideal investment.”
But James notes that there are several leading factors that a buyer must consider when choosing their bedding. He explains: “Softness often comes out on top when choosing your bed sheets, as the less friction you experience, the less chance of your eczema flaring up. So, where possible, try to avoid ‘scratchy’ fabrics like wool, flannel, or linen. To do this, you need to check the ‘thread count’ of your bedding, with a higher count indicating a softer choice. Anything above a 300-thread count is typically considered ‘luxury’ so don’t feel like you have to find a count in the thousands!”
As well as softness, James states that temperature regulation is a hugely important factor in keeping painful eczema symptoms at bay. He says: “Temperature regulation and breathability are absolutely essential to keep you cool and comfortable at night and prevent night sweats that might contribute to inflamed skin and eczematic episodes. So try to look out for sheets that respond to your body’s temperature – even during winter!”
He continues: “In the same vein as temperature management, it’s crucial to look out for bedding with great moisture wicking, as this will keep you cool and comfortable all night long. What is moisture-wicking? Not only that, but because your bedding remains dry – even during the hot and humid summer months – you’re less likely to be exposed to bacterial growth, with your bedding staying fresher for longer.”
James added: “First and foremost, whether you have eczema or not, it’s essential to regularly wash your bedding to prevent a buildup of dirt, grime, and allergens. However, while some people can get away with washing sheets twice a month, if you suffer from eczema or otherwise itchy skin, we’d suggest changing your bedding on a weekly basis – especially if you’re a sweaty sleeper!
To assist eczema sufferers in buying their bedding, James has compiled a list of top choices when considering buying:
- Bamboo. When you think of bamboo, you likely conjure images of tall grass shoots. But what you may not have realised is that it can also be used to create luxury bamboo bedding that’s very eczema-friendly. Thanks to its silky fibres, bamboo is naturally cooling, ensuring you stay comfortable all night long. What’s more, because bamboo is a fast-growing plant, it’s completely sustainable and self-renewing, making it a pro-planet pick.
- Eucalyptus. Breathable, moisture-wicking, and luxuriously soft, eucalyptus silk bedding should definitely be at the top of your list if you’re shopping for eczema-friendly sheets, duvet covers, and pillowcases. And even better, like bamboo, eucalyptus is an eco-product, with sheets requiring 30% less energy and 95% less water to manufacture than their cotton equivalents.
- Silk. Silk doesn’t need any introduction: it’s world-renowned for being luxuriously soft and comfortable and, like bamboo and eucalyptus, is an excellent temperature regulator. With hypoallergenic properties, too, you can be sure that your silk sheets are free of dust, mites, and mould. The one disadvantage of silk bedding, however, is that it’s not the most ethical to manufacture, which is where eucalyptus comes in as an ethical alternative.
- Egyptian cotton. A popular, natural option among eczema sufferers, Egyptian cotton is royalty in the bedding world, thanks to its reputation as a comfortable, luxury sleeping solution. Traditionally sourced from the banks of the Nile, where the long-staple cotton has plenty of heat, water, and fertile soil to thrive, there are few better picks if you suffer from itchy skin and rashes. When browsing, just be sure you’re buying the real deal, as many manufacturers are known to falsely label cheaper, lower-quality alternatives.
- Microfibre. Microfibre sheets are made from synthetic materials such as polyester and are designed to offer a soft and silky finish. On top of this, microfiber sheets are naturally hypoallergenic and resistant to dust and mites, making them an excellent choice if you’re an eczema sufferer. However, there is some debate around the breathability of this material, with many finding natural alternatives like cotton and eucalyptus to offer greater cooling properties, so maybe look elsewhere if you’re prone to night sweats.
James has also revealed the fabrics that eczema sufferers should avoid. He said: “While bamboo and eucalyptus silk offer soothing benefits, the likes of wool, linen, and flannel, on the other hand, can contribute to night time itchiness. That’s not to say that you can’t buy high-quality, luxury sheets made from these fabrics; it just means they might not be the most appropriate if you suffer from eczema. Rather than being soft and silky, wool, linen, and flannel bedding typically prioritise warmth and cosiness but can begin to feel ‘scratchy’ if you have sensitive skin that’s prone to rashes.”