Winter is every eczema-prone person's nightmare. Beyond the bone-chilling temperatures and drying indoor heat, there's another element that can exacerbate flare-ups and tip our skin off balance: sweaters. Even those without eczema know that certain sweaters and tops are a one-way ticket to itch city. But if you already have sensitive skin, scratchy shirts can be uncomfortable to the max.
"[Certain] sweaters can be treated with chemicals that can cause an allergic contact reaction on skin and can also be crafted with materials that cause itch like wool," says Nava Greenfield, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at the Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York.
Don't worry—we're not saying to skip out on sweaters for good. If you have eczema, you can savor all the warmth and coziness of a turtleneck or cardigan... if you know what to look for. When shopping for a sweater that won't cause your eczema to flare, consider the fabrics. Dr. Greenfield recommends sticking to softer, natural materials, like cotton, silk, and bamboo, which are more breathable and forgiving on skin. While wool may have a bad reputation for roughing up delicate, eczemic skin, not all wool is a forbidden. Dermatologists like Hadley King, MD, suggest sticking to softer options, like buttery merino wool or decadent cashmere, instead.
- Gibran Shaikh, MD, MSc, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist, founder of My Skin of Color
- Hadley King, MD, board-certified dermatologist and clinical instructor of dermatology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University
- Nava Greenfield, MD, board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York
Not sure about your sweaters? You're in the right spot. Below, Dr. Greenfield, Dr. King, and more share the the best sweaters eczema, made from sensitive-skin friendly fabrics that'll keep you roasty, toasty, and totally itch-free all winter long.
The best sweaters for eczema, according to derms
Sizes available: XS-XXL
Jenni Kayne isn’t only an editor favorite—dermatologists adore the brand, too. “Jenni Kayne has a variety of cashmere sweaters that are soft enough to avoid triggering reactions with the skin,” says Dr. Greenfield. This one is comprised of a wool and cashmere blend so soft, it feels like a puppy’s ear, and won’t irritate eczema-prone skin. It features a slightly roomy turtleneck (just look at how beautifully it lays) to prevent irritation of the neck and comes in three beautiful colors: clay, charcoal, and camel.
Sizes available: XS-XL
Lunya is the epitome of luxury. The brand crafts silky soft sweaters that are not likely to upset angry skin and cause irritation. That’s why anything Lunya has Dr. Greenfield’s mark of approval. Made of 100 percent cashmere, this sweater is buttery soft and has an airy fit to prevent friction. Goodbye, eczema flares.
Originally $250, now $125
Sizes available: XXS-XXL
Customer and derms can’t get enough of Naadam, and it’s easy to see why. The brand offers sustainable, high-quality, and uniquely-designed knits that are sensitive-skin friendly. Naadam’s sweaters, “breathe easily and don’t itch,” says Gibran Shaikh, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of the online dermatology service, My Skin of Color. We adore this wool and cashmere-blended turtleneck, which has cable knit detailing on the arms for added texture.
Available sizes: XS-XL
Dr. Shaikh says his patients have had good experiences with Smartwool sweaters, like this one, which is made out of merino wool, nylon, and polyester. It’s blended fabric is breathable, as are the bell sleeves which add a smidge of protection from friction while it’s on. The mock turtleneck doesn’t hurt either, nor does it itch, which many other mocks tend to do.
Available sizes: XXS-XL
Reminder: Not all wool is bad for eczema or sensitive skin. Dr. Greenfield recommends going with a finer, softer wool, like cashmere, as to not irritate rough patches. This one from Ciara’s brand (yes, that Ciara) happens to be soft on skin and the planet, as it’s made from recycled cashmere yarn. Cuddly and cute, it deserves a spot in your wardrobe faster than you can “1,2 Step.”
Available sizes: XS-XK
You don’t need to break the bank to get your paws on a cashmere sweater. This one from Quince is just as derm-approved as the rest on this list, and is sold at a fraction of the price. Expect all the cuddliness of the others as the buttery soft fabric wraps you in a warmth so indulgent, you’ll never want to take it off. There are 13 different colors, so good luck picking just one.
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