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What is Eczema?

Approximately 9.6 million children in the United States have eczema [1], and the prevalence is increasing. October is National Eczema Awareness Month, with the purpose of acknowledging this condition as a serious health issue, reducing stigma around the topic, and empowering the global community to combat the condition [1].

What is eczema?

Let's start with the basics. Eczema is the itch that rashes. Many children report being itchy, then scratch the affected area, and voila, a rash appears. Eczema is characterized by itchy red patches across a child's skin. Dry skin is a key contributor to the condition. 

Eczema is caused by a problem with the skin barrier. Many children with eczema do not have enough filaggrin in the outer layer of the skin. Filaggin is what holds the skin together. If skin has insufficient filaggin, then there is room for water, bacteria, and other irritants to enter, which can lead to irritation [2]. Eczema is also known to be a genetically linked condition (thanks, Mom and Dad!).

Many children with eczema also have allergies and asthma. The combination of these three conditions is called the atopic triad. Our children have been blessed with the atopic triad, hence our desire to start an apparel business for children with eczema. Yes, Mom and Dad have very sensitive skin too.

What does eczema look like?

Eczema varies in its appearance from child to child. Typically, there are "good periods" (where skin is clear) and exacerbations or flares (where skin is irritated and eczema is present). Eczema in babies usually manifests as red, scaly patches on the cheeks and around the mouth. In young school-aged children, eczema appears as plaques behind the knees and elbow creases, though it can also form elsewhere on the body. 

What makes eczema worse?

Common eczema triggers include: 

  1. Irritants such as fragrances, soaps, cleaners, and detergents
  2. Environmental factors such as allergies and weather conditions (e.g., humidity, heat, cold, etc.)
  3. Certain clothing materials like wool and synthetic fabrics (e.g., polyester)
  4. Food allergies
  5. Sweat 
  6. Drool and saliva

Does eczema ever go away?

Some children will see improvement by age four, but it is hard to predict who will outgrow eczema and who will continue to struggle with sensitive skin. Fingers crossed, our children outgrow some of the sensitivities, but if they do not we are happy to know that they are in good company with millions of others who deal with this condition. 

What is the best clothing for kids with eczema?

Look for:

  1. Natural fibers and fabrics: Choose natural fabrics that breathe. Good options for eczema include organic cotton, TENCEL™ Lyocell, TENCEL™ Modal, and linen. 
  2. No harmful chemicals: Look for GOTS certified organic cotton or OEKO-Tex certified fabric. Both standards ensure no toxic substances are used to produce or process fabric. Toxic chemicals may irritate skin. 
  3. No tags: Tags can be scratchy and irritate sensitive skin. 
  4. Simple designs: Extra embellishments, pockets, and lace can irritate sensitive skin. Pick simple styles that fit well. 

References: 

1. https://nationaleczema.org/research/eczema-facts/

2. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/skin/Pages/Eczema.aspx

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