Wearing silk garments is not likely to lessen moderate to severe pediatric eczema or prevent infection, according to research published in PLOS Medicine.

“Specialist clothing [for eczema] is now available on prescription in a variety of forms including sericin-free silk. Viscose and silver-impregnated fabrics,” Kim S. Thomas, PhD, co-director of the Centre of Evidence Based Dermatology at the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom, and colleagues wrote. “To date, there have been just three small randomized controlled trials of silk clothing for the management of eczema [which included …] few participants, were of generally short duration, did not incorporate an economic evaluation and were at risk of bias.”

To determine the cost of silk garments and their benefits when combined with standard care, the researchers conducted a parallel-group, randomized, control, observer-blind trial, which included children between the ages of 1 and 15 in the U.K. with moderate to severe eczema. Participants from five centers were randomly assigned to receive standard care and additional silk garments, which were worn for 6 months. Other participants continued standard care.

All participants were assessed at the start of the trial and at 2, 4, and 6 months. Nurses graded the severity of eczema using the Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI), and evaluators were not aware of treatment group.

The two groups contained 141 children each; silk clothing was more often worn at night (median = 81% at night, median = 34% during daytime). For children wearing silk, the average EASI of each assessment equaled 9.2 (baseline), 6.4 (2 months), 5.8 (4 months) and 5.4 (6 months). Similar results were seen in the standard-care group, with 8.4 (baseline), 6.6 (2 months), 6.0 (4 months) and 5.4 (6 months). There was no difference between the scores when adjusting for age, center and baseline score.