Clothing may play a role in either exacerbating or soothing eczema, and patients often avoid wool garments and turn to cotton and other fine weave fabrics, including silk.
But, a new study has found that no significant differences were observed in eczema severity for children with moderate to severe eczema who wore silk garments compared with those who wore their usual clothing.
Atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory, non-contagious, chronic skin disorder that involves scaly and itchy rashes.
Symptoms include inflammation, itching and scaling of the skin. Atopic dermatitis is often referred to as the 'itch that rashes' because the itching starts first, and the skin rash appears follows due to the scratching.
In the new study, 300 children age 1 to 15 years with moderate to severe eczema were recruited from five UK centers covering a range of rural and urban settings. The participants were randomly divided into two groups: half the children received the standard of care and the other half received the standard of care plus silk garments that are claimed to be beneficial for eczema.
After 6 months, there was no significant difference in eczema severity--based on the Eczema Area and Severity Index--and no difference in quality of life or medication use between the groups.
The researchers report that the garments are unlikely to be cost-effective even if the small differences between groups were genuine, with a computed cost per quality adjusted life year of silk garments to be GBP 56,811.
Atopic dermatitis is very common in all parts of the world. The disease can occur at any age but most often affects infants and small children. It may start as early as age 2-6 months, but many people outgrow it by early adulthood.
A limitation of the study is that the use of an objective outcome measure (an eczema severity score assessed by research nurses) may underestimate changes in symptoms.
The authors say: "The results of this trial suggest that silk garments are unlikely to provide additional clinical or economic benefits over standard care for children with moderate to severe eczema."