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Skin allergies in babies and kids due to clothing

Skin allergies in babies and kids have become very common today - these could be from the food they consume, the environmental pollution that they are exposed to, viruses that have increased in number due to frequent travelling, the bad quality material used in toys they play with or even the ‘ wrong clothing’ they are wearing all day! Skin rashes could occur by the touch of the fabric or there could be some respiratory issues because the child is breathing the toxins present in the fabric such as pesticides and chemical dyes. These toxins could even enter their tender bodies when they perspire. This affects their immunity having long term implications. Think of the moment when a child is born, the baby's skin is so gentle, so pure and so clean that you wish not a spec of dirt comes on it. Don't you think they deserve to wear the most natural, clean, safe and pure clothing which is free of hazardous, toxic and unhealthy chemicals/ dyes?

I have been talking to a lot of skin specialists, dermatologists and allergy experts over this topic and would like to share with you some of my findings. I have had the chance to speak with Senior Associate Professors in Dermatology, Professors at World Allergy Organisation, President Association of Dermatologists, Skin doctors and Allergy experts at renowned hospitals across Asia-Pacific region. Here are some notes from my interviews -

Ques1: What is skin health and why is it important?

Answers: Skin is largest organ in the body and hence it is very important to have a healthy skin. Maintaining good skin is very important.

Ques2: What is skin dermatitis and what are its causes?

Answers: Inflammatory skin conditions due to allergens in environment, cosmetics, clothes lead to rashes, dryness, chapping, spotting and other kinds of disruptions. In severe cases it may become into serious infections. Internal conditions or genetically also one may have skin dermatitis.

Ques3: The closest to our skin is the clothes we wear all day, does that have any role to play on skin health?

Answers: Definitely, clothes are a big contributor to skin health! Especially in pediatric age group and new born babies as their skin is very delicate.

Ques4: What should we keep in mind while buying clothes for ourselves and our children?

Answers: Pure fabrics like organic cotton, silk, wool that are made from natural products are best options to go for, especially for babies and young kids. Try to look for clothes that are non-synthetic, have no nylon threads and preferably no dark colours as they have a high chance of having toxic dyes. Choose clothes that will soak sweat when the body perspires. Go for soft, loose clothing especially in case of children.

Ques5: What are some of the symptoms of clothing allergy, specifically in young children?

Answers: Purpuric rashes or red spots in children are very common cases that we encounter – this is called contact dermatitis and is mainly due to harmful chemical dyes used in clothing. Nylon threads, especially in the folded area of the cloth leads to severe allergic reactions. Another, common issue we see is a more linear band of dermatitis encircling the neck and this could be because of the nylon or synthetic present in the collar area like tags, threads, buttons, etc. Yet another condition in children we find common is Atopic dermatitis (eczema) - a condition that makes the skin red and itchy. Atopic dermatitis is long lasting (chronic) and tends to flare periodically. It may be accompanied by asthma or hay fever also at times. Diaper dermatitis and frictional dermatitis are among others where allergies show up as redness, swelling, itching, oozing or bacterial infection.

(P.S. All Aavik Tags are made from organic cotton fabric and are placed in areas where they would not harm the child. All Aavik buttons are made of wood.)

Ques6: What are your views on the levels of pesticides and chemical dyes used in the clothing industry today?

Answers: They are alarming and very worrying! We do get cases where patients get allergies due to these harmful substances used in clothes.

Ques7. Are natural fabrics a safer option to go for? Please give examples of a few that we can look at for our children? And does adopting these natural fabrics for our skin help us lead a more sustainable lifestyle?

Answers: Yes definitely, natural fabrics and especially organic cotton is the best and safest option to go for a healthy skin. Natural dyes are again safe and healthy. Natural fabrics are essential for the delicate skin of young children and for them to stay healthy. Adopting these will surely make you be more sustainable for yourself and for the planet. In particular, organic cotton is the safest option to go for to avoid any sort of skin allergies in babies and kids.

Ques8: Fun question – What is your favorite clothing attire and why?

Answers: ‘Cotton’ because it is soft, comfortable, breathable, absorbs sweat and is soothing to the skin. And if one can find organic cotton, then nothing like it!

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