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Trial to investigate if silk reduces eczema symptoms

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UK researchers are recruiting 300 children for a clinical trial to establish whether or not specialist silk clothing can help treat eczema.

The £1m CLOTHES trial – Clothing for the relief of Eczema Symptoms – is being led by Professor Kim Thomas from the University of Nottingham.

Professor Thomas said: “There have been some ‘impressive’ claims recently promoting specialist silk clothing as a new treatment option for people with eczema. 

“We are carrying out the first large-scale independent, randomised controlled trial of silk clothing… to establish whether or not these new products live up to the claims that are currently being made,” she said.

Recruitment of children between the age of one and 15 began in November and will continue for 18 months.

The trial will compare the use of silk clothing plus normal eczema care, to normal eczema care alone. Each child will be enrolled in the trial for eight months.

Those in one group will receive three sets of silk underwear – this will be either a bodysuit and leggings, or vest and leggings depending on the child’s age. Children will be asked to wear the clothing underneath their normal clothes for six months.

Children who do not receive the clothing straight away will be given the clothing to try for two months after the first six months of the trial has finished.

Throughout the trial all of the children will be free to continue with their usual eczema treatments, such as moisturisers and topical steroids.

Professor Thomas said: “Silk clothing, which is comfortable to wear, is thought to have protective and antimicrobial properties. However, existing research evidence is limited to a few small studies.

“This research team plans to work with 300 children to see if the clothing really does help patients with eczema. A cost-effectiveness analysis will also be conducted to see if the garments represent value for money to the NHS and to families,” she added.

Six trusts are taking part in the study – Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, Derby Hospitals Foundation Trust, Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals Trust, Cambridge University Hospitals Foundation Trust, Isle of Wight Trust and Portsmouth Hospitals Trust. 

The trial has been funded by National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment Programme.


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