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11-11-2010 | Article

Fabric softener benefits adults with dry skin


Free abstract

MedWire News: Using fabric softener on clothes may help prevent skin dryness, researchers suggest.

The friction of fabrics on the skin can cause minor trauma leading to itching and impairment of the skin barrier that may result in eczemas and atopic dermatitis.

"Fabric softening chemicals smoothens the surface of fabrics and thus decreases the friction with the skin," note Hitoshi Mizutani, from Mie University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan, and colleagues.

To investigate whether this improves dry skin, the team compared skin dryness in 20 men who wore T-shirts washed with fabric softener for 4 weeks and 20 men who wore T-shirts not washed with fabric softener. All the men had modest to moderate dry skin.

The results showed that water content in the outermost layer of skin epidermis was increased at the shoulder in men wearing T-shirts washed in fabric softener, indicating a reduction in dehydration of the skin, but not in the men wearing the other T-shirts.

The researchers note in the Journal of Dermatology that the improvements in skin dryness were evident at the shoulder, particularly in men with the driest skin, but not at the abdomen.

They explain that the shoulder is often covered by clothes and rarely affected by external factors; unlike the abdomen that is easily exposed to external factors including air and belts.

These results confirm the "beneficial effect of fabric softener for adults with dry skin," say Dr Mizutani and team.

They suggest: "Improvement of dry skin may result from decrease of grinding and scratching of the skin surface by fabrics."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Lucy Piper