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The 3 Best Fabrics for Eczema and the 4 You Should Avoid

December 11, 2020

Mom with baby wrapped in newborn Swajama swaddle pajama

Eczema sucks. And it especially sucks for little ones that don’t know why their skin is so irritated and itchy. Over 31 million people have eczema in the US, with most cases peaking in early childhood. (1) Clothing made from the right material can make a big difference in comfort level. We are slightly biased towards natural bamboo fabric, but there are other options when it comes to shopping for sensitive skin. We look at what makes certain materials better for sensitive skin and give you our three best options, as well as the ones to avoid.

Which Qualities Help?

  • Natural, non-synthetic fibers are more soothing to sensitive skin
  • Lightweight clothes that help ventilate air and let the skin breathe
  • Moisture absorbing materials that remove sweat
  • Antibacterial and hypoallergenic fabrics

The 3 Best Fabrics for Eczema 

(In no particular order)

Organic CottonLoose-fitting, organic cotton clothing is a good option for sensitive skin. It can be soft and airy, allowing the skin to breathe. Cotton is also very moisture absorbing, but it does not dry as well and is prone to harboring bacteria. (2) It is good to keep in mind that if your child’s clothing is wet, it is probably best to change them and not expect it to dry on its own. Damp fabric rubbing against sensitive skin is a recipe for irritation and itchiness. 
Modal for fabric and sensitive skin
Modal might be the only fabric on the list that you’ve never heard of. It is made from beech wood and is technically a synthetic fiber because it undergoes a chemical process during manufacturing. The production uses slightly less water than cotton, which makes it the eco-friendlier option between the two. Well-tolerated by children with eczema (3), Modal is an airy fabric that feels like smooth cotton. It is also slightly more durable than other synthetic fabrics like Rayon.
Organic Bamboo Fabric for Sensitive Skin
Natural organic bamboo fabric is not nearly as common as its synthetic counterpart made from Rayon or Viscose. (4) There is a myth going around that natural bamboo fabric has to be rigid and rough, but our clothing would prove otherwise. Our process replaces the chemicals used to create Viscose with machines, keeping all of the natural bamboo fibers intact and yielding a fabric that is just as soft and even more durable. The real bamboo is super breathable and lightweight. It does a great job of letting air escape and wicking any moisture away from the skin. It is also hypoallergenic and antibacterial, which gives it a slight edge over cotton and Modal. 

Fabrics to Avoid for Sensitive Skin

Child with clothing option, which fabrics to avoid 


Polyester is a synthetic fabric that does not breathe well, leaving air trapped between the skin and clothing. The trapped air creates friction, which can irritate sensitive and dry skin. There are eco-friendly versions of polyester that use recycled plastic in their production (5) which is really cool, but unfortunately the end product is still considered to trap heat and irritate the skin. 


The main negative with fleece clothing and its effect on sensitive skin is the heat that is often created underneath the fabric. Sweaty, hot, dry skin is not a fun mix, especially with a not-so-soft material rubbing up against it. In colder months, a thin fleece layer over-top of an organic fabric like bamboo or cotton can still be an excellent way to keep warm without the fleece rubbing directly on the skin.

Rayon (Viscose)

Because of the chemicals used to manufacture Rayon and other synthetic fabrics, it is best to avoid them for sensitive skin. Always check for Oeko-tex standard 100 certifications on these fabrics, verifying that no harmful chemical residue is left behind. 


Standard wool fabrics are coarse and itchy. Some people have actual allergic reactions to wool, but many people experience irritated skin and redness from the fabric. Wool clothing also tends to collect dust mites and other allergens in the weave of the fabric, making an allergic situation worse. Merino Wool is marketed as a softer, more breathable alternative to standard wool; however the yarn for Merino wool is cultivated from sheep, and according to a Peta report, a large number of these animals are miss-treated. In Australia, where more than 50 percent of the world’s merino wool originates, lambs are forced to endure a gruesome procedure called “mulesing,” in which huge chunks of skin are cut from the animals’ backsides, often without any painkillers. (6)

In Conclusion

These are all general and just a rule of thumb when searching for the right fabrics. It's clear that a few fabrics stand above the rest when it comes to sensitive skin, but there are always ranges in quality that can affect the overall comfort level in clothing. It’s also important to consider the proper detergents. Organic, chemical-free detergents are best used when possible. In our next blog, we will look at the most popular natural detergent brands and rank our favorites.


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