In a recent United Nation Millennial Poll “Health is the most important thing in life”.
At the IWTO 2017 conference, held in Harrogate at the beginning of May, one of the presentations was on wellness and the benefits of wool-on-skin. Presented by Angus Ireland (Australian Wool Innovation & IWTO) he explained the benefits of Super Fine Merino wool and reduced skin irritation such as eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis (AD).
A short news film produced by 9 News in Australia was released after clinical trials conducted by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) and by the Queensland institute of Dermatology. Both are challenging and breaking the myths that wool is not good to wear, and wool is a possible source of allergy for those with eczema/AD.
Eczema/AD often starts in childhood with between 12% and 28% of children now born in Western countries affected according to Wohl et al. (2015).
“Light weight knitted garments from Devold were worn next to the skin in a trial to assess the impact of wool on eczema symptoms. Super Fine Merino wool improved the skin irritation within a matter of 3 – 6 weeks”. Angus Ireland
The MCRI trial with children under the age of 3 years old involved one group of children wearing cotton for the first 6 weeks then changing to wool, and the other group starting with wool for the first 6 weeks then switching to cotton.
As you can see from the chart below when the children & babies were wearing wool the irritation levels began to drop over the 6 week period and when wearing cotton it increased.
Most fabrics have protruding surface fibres that rub against the skin, but because the Superfine Merino wool is so soft and delicate with fine fibres it doesn’t prickle against the skin and cause irritation, whereas coarser fabric fibres will prickle and don’t bend which is the main cause of the irritation. Therefore consumers need to be careful that they use the ‘right’ wool for eczema/AD skin and select products made from Superfine/Ultrafine Merino wool. (see diagram below)
The other key benefit is wool’s natural ability to wick moisture vapour away from the skin and maintain a more stable microclimate (temperature and humidity) between the skin and the fabric, which is a key factor for eczema/AD sufferers who have what is termed as ‘leaky’ skin.