Which Bedsheet Fabrics Are Best for People With Eczema? | MyEczemaTeam

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Which Bedsheet Fabrics Are Best for People With Eczema?

Medically reviewed by Steven Devos, M.D., Ph.D.
Posted on September 12, 2023

Getting a good night’s sleep when you have itchy skin from eczema isn’t always easy. That’s why it’s critical to make sure your bedsheets don’t make the problem worse.

“I’ve been having a serious flare-up for the past couple of days,” one MyEczemaTeam member said. “Why does it attack at night? My sleep is getting worse and worse.”

Although your bedsheets alone aren’t causing eczema, certain fabrics are better suited for sensitive skin. For example, breathable material that keeps your skin cool may be more comfortable, and softer fabrics that aren’t itchy can help prevent skin irritation. In addition, washing your bedding carefully to protect against common allergens may help you breathe better and reduce rashes (depending on your triggers).

Members of MyEczemaTeam have shared tips like this for living better with eczema: “I buy items that help me better manage the condition, like 100 percent cotton sheets, Dove Sensitive Skin body wash, and products without fragrances or irritants.”

Selecting the right sheet fabric for eczema relief can significantly increase your comfort and quality of sleep. Fabrics like cotton, bamboo, microfiber, Tencel, and silk offer varying benefits, from breathability to softness, and match different preferences. Always prioritize hypoallergenic, skin-friendly options, and be mindful of potential irritants.

You can give yourself or your child the best chance for a restful night by keeping certain fabrics and tips in mind when shopping for sheets.

Cotton Ranks High for Comfort

Cotton is a widely favored sheet fabric, for good reason. Its natural breathability and soft texture make it a top choice for individuals with eczema. Cotton allows air to circulate around your body, preventing excess heat and moisture buildup that can worsen eczema symptoms. Its gentle, hypoallergenic properties reduce the risk of skin irritation and allergic reactions. “I can only sleep with cotton sheets. All others cause itching,” said one MyEczemaTeam member.

When shopping for cotton sheets, watch out for cotton blends, which can be high in synthetic fabrics like polyester. Instead, look for sheets labeled “100 percent organic cotton” — they’re less likely to have irritating dyes and resins. If you see the OEKO-TEX label, it provides assurance that the sheets are free of certain chemicals. Supima cotton offers another good option that’s more readily available in stores.

Bamboo Keeps You Cool and Dry

Bamboo sheets are gaining popularity for their skin-friendly qualities. Bamboo fibers are naturally hypoallergenic and antibacterial, and their silky-smooth texture is gentle on sensitive skin. Additionally, bamboo is known for its moisture-wicking properties, which can help prevent overheating and flare-ups, especially if you’re a hot sleeper.

Bamboo sheets allow for excellent air circulation, reducing the risk of irritation and itchiness from sweating. In fact, bamboo tends to be even more absorbent than cotton. Look for bamboo sheets labeled “organic” to ensure they’re made without harmful chemicals that could trigger eczema flare-ups.

Microfiber Offers Softness and Durability

Microfiber sheets are made from synthetic materials, typically a blend of polyester and nylon. While not as breathable as natural fibers like cotton and bamboo, microfiber is exceptionally soft and durable. For individuals with eczema, the key is to find high-quality microfiber sheets that are hypoallergenic and designed to minimize irritation.

Tencel Lyocell Feels Luxurious

Tencel fabric, such as lyocell, is made from wood pulp, often sourced from eucalyptus trees. This fabric boasts a luxurious softness that can provide great comfort for individuals with eczema. Tencel sheets are naturally hypoallergenic and have moisture-wicking properties similar to bamboo, keeping your skin cool and dry.

Tencel’s smooth fibers are less likely to cause friction against the skin, reducing the risk of irritation and itchiness.

Silk Sheets May Be a Worthwhile Treat

A slightly less practical but desirable option is silk. This soft, breathable natural fabric can help regulate body temperature. Just keep in mind that silk can be difficult to wash and may get stained by eczema lotions and creams. Nonetheless, a set of silk sheets could be just the luxury you’ve been searching for to improve your sleep with eczema.

Take Steps To Sleep Well With Eczema

You can apply the recommendations for bedsheet materials to your pajamas as well. Avoiding irritating fabrics and tight or hot clothing at night will help your skin feel its best.

Adults and children with eczema are more likely to have allergies, so you may need to wash your sheets and pillows more frequently. Some bedsheets may be treated with chemicals, dyes, or finishes that can trigger eczema symptoms. That’s why you should always wash new sheet sets before using them for the first time. Laundering helps remove chemicals or residues from the manufacturing process and helps soften the fabric.

You should also choose white or light-colored fabrics, which contain less dye. Watch out for bedsheets labeled “no-iron” or “stain resistant” — they may have been treated with chemicals.

Laundry Tips From Members

Use hot water and fragrance-free detergent to wash away dead skin cells and dust mites and to prevent sensitivities to chemicals in perfumed detergents. One MyEczemaTeam member explained, “Fragrances are a huge trigger for most people living with eczema. So for me, I buy everything unscented, just in case.”

Other members have shared laundry tips like these:

“I use a laundry detergent for sensitive skin and a dryer sheet that’s the same. I also double rinse my clothes.”

“I use unscented liquid laundry soap, borax, and some white vinegar in the hottest water setting.”

Most members also report avoiding fabric softeners and dryer sheets. “My wife does not use fabric softener at all. She uses laundry detergent, and we also use ammonia to start the wash. Ammonia disinfects the clothes,” one said. It’s also a good idea to stay away from bleach, which may leave an irritating residue on fabrics.

Ways To Reduce Allergens in the Bedroom

Keeping a second set of sheets on hand, stored in a sealed plastic bag, can make it easier to keep up with cleaning. In addition, pillow covers and mattress protectors can extend the life of bedding materials and keep dust mites and other allergens from getting into the fabric.

Finally, vacuum your bedroom frequently, avoid carpeting, and don’t forget to wash the curtains and other surfaces in the room to prevent dust buildup. Although it takes a little more effort to maintain a bedroom suitable for someone with eczema, a better night’s sleep makes it all worthwhile.

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyEczemaTeam is the social network for people with eczema and their loved ones. On MyEczemaTeam, more than 49,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with eczema.

Do you notice a difference in your skin condition depending on your bed linens? What types of bedsheet sets do you find most comfortable? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

Posted on September 12, 2023
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Steven Devos, M.D., Ph.D. received his medical degree and completed residency training in dermatology at the University of Ghent, Belgium. Learn more about him here.
Anastasia Climan, RDN, CDN is a dietitian with over 10 years of experience in public health and medical writing. Learn more about her here.

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