Wool Benefits to Skin Confirmed

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Quality of Life Improves with Wool

Outcomes from the latest research shows that wearing superfine Merino wool offers natural relief to those who suffer from eczema

A new study in the United States has confirmed that wearing superfine Merino wool helps ease the symptoms of eczema and improves the wearer’s quality of life. 

Supported by The Woolmark Company’s Fibre Advocacy program, Professor Joe Fowler at Dermatology Specialists Research in Louisville, Kentucky, undertook this two-year study assessing the effect of Merino base-layer fabrics on 50 of his patients with mild-to-moderate eczema.

Using a cross-over design, participants were placed in two groups. The first group was dressed in their regular clothing for six weeks and then changed to superfine Merino wool garments. The second group began with the superfine Merino wool for six weeks and then crossed over to their regular clothing for the final six weeks. Each patient undertook an initial visit to establish their baseline condition, followed by regular three week visits until completion of the study. They were assessed for clinical, physiological and quality of life outcome measures.

Significant decreases in eczema symptoms from Baseline to Week 3 were seen in both groups.However, those who switched to Merino wool at Week six experienced a further significant decrease in symptoms, in contrast to those who switched to regular clothing.  Further, "it was only when Merino wool was worn that improved quality of life scores occurred,"  Professor Fowler said .  

“I still wear the [wool] clothing even though I've finished the study," one participant said. "I'm super sensitive about clothing and never keep any that are not comfortable.”

Another participant commented, "I could feel it working, my skin got softer and I wear [wool] now when my skin needs help.”

The study is available (open source) online at Dermatitis: Effects of Merino Wool on Atopic Dermatitis Using Clinical, Quality of Life, and Physiological Outcome Measures, led by Dr Joseph Fowler.

Why wool works for eczema sufferers

When worn next to skin, superfine Merino wool works as a dynamic buffer, helping maintain a more  stable humidity and temperature in the micro-climate between the fabric and the skin. Wool garments are the most breathable of the common apparel types, absorbing and releasing approximately twice as much moisture vapour as cotton and thirty times as much as polyester. It appears superfine Merino wool acts like a second skin for these people whose ‘first’ skin is too dry. 
The Managing Director of The Woolmark Company, Stuart McCullough said that a compelling body of evidence is needed to overcome consumer misconceptions in some markets of wool being scratchy and a cause of allergy.
“Skin health has been an area in which we have been undertaking research since 2011, in relation to both infant and adult sufferers of eczema in Australia. These initial studies - published in the British Journal of Dermatology and the Biomedical Journal of Scientific Research - concluded that traditional management guidelines for eczema should be modified to include superfine Merino wool as a recommended clothing choice.”
“Following on from Professor Fowler’s study, further studies are now being initiated in the USA, Europe and Asia to confirm wool’s positive impact on eczema is consistent across different geographic and climatic zones as well as across a wide range of skin types.”
Read more about Wool & Skin here.

How Wool Contributes to Health & Wellness

Natural, renewable and biodegradable, wool has an amazing array of completely natural benefits. As mentioned above, wool can regulate the temperature of the air between itself and your skin, so that it can keep you either warm or cool. Able to absorb up to 35% of its own weight in water, wool absorb moisture from your skin as you sweat, and thus keeps you feeling more comfortable.  The same mechanism applies to wool bedclothes and bedding, and why you stay more comfortable when you sleep in wool. 

Read more about wool and its natural benefits

Wool & Skin Fact Sheet


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