The study published in the British Journal of Dermatology examined the effects of fine merino wool on childhood eczema; and the results revealed fine merino wool actually reduced, rather than exacerbated eczema symptoms.
The trial involved children aged from four weeks to three years over a 12-week period, where they wore merino wool garments against the skin for six weeks before changing to cotton, and vice versa.
The researchers found when children switched to wool, after wearing cotton, they showed a significant decrease in eczema severity whereas eczema worsened when those who wore wool changed to cotton. Results also showed that children wearing wool had approximately a halving of daily body steroid use.
The study’s lead author Associate Professor John Su from Monash University and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute says that “When comparing with cotton, there are inherent differences in fibre properties, [Merino] wool’s greater ability to transfer moisture vapour and heat than other major apparel fibres enable it to maintain a more stable microclimate between the skin and garment,”.
The research highlights the need for further studies on the correlation between clothing and the skin in relation to skin conditions like eczema.