The trial, being led by the university of Nottingham, will compare what effect wearing silk clothing plus normal eczema care to normal eczema care alone has on children from the age of one with the skin condition.
Funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) Programme, the trial will aim to prove whether claims recently promoting specialist silk clothing as a new treatment option for people with eczema are correct.
Recruitment for the trial has already begun and will continue for the next 18 months. Researchers are looking for children between the age of one and 15 living in Nottingham, Cambridge, North London, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.
Children taking part will be split into two groups. One group of children will continue with just their normal eczema treatments, while the other group will receive three sets of silk underwear to wear under their clothes for six months. Those continuing with just their normal eczema treatment will have an opportunity to try the silk clothing afterwards.
Throughout the trial, all of the children will be free to continue with their usual eczema treatment, such as using moisturisers and topical steroids.
Each child will be enrolled in the trial for eight months and asked to attend their local recruiting hospital on four different occasions through the trial period. Parents will also be asked to complete a weekly questionnaire to track how their child’s eczema has been and how often the silk clothing has been worn.
Professor Kim Thomas from the University’s Centre of Evidence Based Dermatology, who is leading the trial, said, ‘There have been some impressive claims recently promoting specialist silk clothing as a new treatment option for people with eczema. However, it is still unclear if these garments really do provide additional benefits for patients. We are carrying out the first large-scale independent, randomised controlled trial of silk clothing for the management of eczema in children to establish whether or not these new products live up to the claims that are currently being made.
‘Most treatments of eczema only suppress the condition and may have side effects. 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.