Itchy skin this Christmas?
We’re on the home run to Christmas Day, and the festivities are... sort of upon us?
For those of us with tricky skin, it can seem like everywhere we turn there is a potential trigger for a flare up or people offering, perhaps well-meaning, yet unsolicited advice on the latest ointment you ‘must try’ what you should/should not eat and other snake oil remedies that none of us asked for.
Let’s be honest. It’s likely that our skin will flare up at least once this season. Rather than desperately crossing our fingers and hoping for the best, or avoiding all merriment in case it angers our skin, we want you to enjoy the season in your skin however it shows up. To give a helping hand, we’re sharing our top tips and tricks for what we found helpful in managing our own skin over the years.
By now many of you will have already sorted your trees. However even if you have, perhaps keep these tips in mind for next year. Fir trees can cause many people to have an allergic reaction, which can then cause a chain reaction of itchiness to occur. If fir trees are a no go for you, why not follow in the footsteps of Dorothy, our original founder, who used to gather branches of fallen wood and decorate them instead. This can be really stunning when lit up with fairly lights and is a great zero waste alternative to plastic or real trees. Why not gather the family and kids to collect branches together? A fun activity that you could incorporate into a new Christmas tradition.
If you are opting for an artificial tree, it’s worth investing in a good quality tree that's made in the UK and that you can use year on year. Cotton Comfort’s Jo bought her fake Christmas tree (seen below) in 2004 when her daughter Bonnie was tiny and they’d realised she was allergic to fir trees. So, it's’ now 17 years old too! In order to balance out the carbon foot print of a fake tree you would need to use it 10 times over, so why not opt for a classic tree shape and design that won’t go out of style. Ebay and charity shops are also a great place to look for fake trees and decorations! There’s no need to splash out on the latest accessories for the tree. Do be sure to check that any second-hand electrical equipment has been properly safety checked before you buy and use the item. Also watch out for potential irritants in second-hand decorations. Miranda got the fairy lights on her tree from the charity shop on her high street. It’s much more economical and when it’s lit up at night and you're gathered with loved ones, the last thing on people’s minds will be whether your tree is flaunting this season’s Christmas dec’s.
Jo in the process of putting up her Christmas tree
& the finished product!
Vacuuming isn't exactly top of our wish list of festive activities, but it is important to get rid of the pesky dust mites that lurk under our trees. To make your life easier, why not hold off putting your gifts under the tree until Christmas Eve. Build up the sense of excitement by keeping the gifts in a cupboard so they're free from dust (and any excited little hand’s) that may want to take a cheeky peek before the big day! This saves you needing to hoover/dust them regularly too.
Have you got your Christmas gifts sorted yet? With the noise surrounding Cop26 and our current climate emergency we’re all actively being more mindful about what we buy and who we buy from this year. If you’re still to tick some people off your list, why not check out some of our gift ideas? We know it’s not exactly novel to suggest socks at Christmas, but our Thick Winter socks really are in a league of their own. The sumptuously soft organic cotton is so comforting that Miranda is hesitant to wear anything else and is now a self-confessed sock snob. Like all of our collection, they will last you for years (as long as you don’t lose one!) and really are a timeless gift that will delight any receivers with their cosy comfort.
According to The Times, ‘This year’s must-have Christmas trend is matching family pyjamas — and even the dog is having to get involved.' Not sure Jo’s Cockapoo Rio would agree, but we certainly do when it comes to the family. Pjs are a Christmas classic for a reason. Steer clear of cheap, synthetic fabrics which are largely made of plastic – no wonder they make us itch, and treat your loved ones to our 100% organic cotton sustainably sourced and crafted Pjs. With kids & adults' sizes available & a range of colours and prints, your skin is sure to feel calm even if you perhaps...don’t.
Highly scented synthetic products can cause an adverse reaction for those of us with allergies, eczema, or asthma. Though they may seem a good gift idea, scented candles, shower gels and gift sets so often go to waste as regardless of allergies, scent is so specific to each person. If you are spending Christmas with family/friends that may not have got the memo, then you are well within your rights to ask them not to open them to take a sniff until they are firmly in the comfort of their own bathroom!
If you plan to adorn your table with candles this Christmas, it’s worth bearing in mind that the majority of candles are made using paraffin wax which may affect anyone with allergies. Paraffin wax gives off 11 known toxins 2 of which are carcinogenic, including benzine and formaldehyde, added to which most are synthetically scented, again an allergy trigger.
Though soya wax or palm oil sound more natural they do contain chemical residues, another potential allergy trigger, by releasing soot and other chemicals into the air.
The best candles to use, although more expensive, are natural beeswax. We also think that the natural honeycomb pillar style beeswax candles look effortlessly chic, especially when placed in a candle stick holder/wine bottle if you plan to be getting through any of those! Why not also consider the many realistic battery-operated candles available that give the same atmospheric effect whilst negating the risk of you lying in bed thinking ‘did I blow the candles out.’
Can’t handle the heat?
Christmas can be hot! Lot of excitement (read stress), potentially extra people -COVID dependent, heightened emotions, and don’t get us started on synthetic jumpers – you won’t be seeing any of those in our households! Why not consider allocating a 'cool space' away from the mayhem where anyone, itchy skin or not, can retreat for a time if they need. Maybe a bedroom where the heating can be turned off and a window left open. For additional chill, why not keep one of our Eczema Scratch Mitten T’s ready in the fridge to soothe itchy skin if and when a flare up occurs. Our new opening hand ones will let you or your loved ones join in the festivities then fold the hands back when you want to apply cream or any itches become unbearable.
If visiting friends and family over the holiday period, consider taking a cotton blanket or sheet to be a barrier between you/your child and the sofa. Our 100% organic cotton reversible playmat's are excellent value (£7.50) and designed specifically for this purpose.
If staying overnight, then take your own pillows and cotton sheets to prevent possible reactions to unknown perfumed washing powders or fabric conditioners. If there’ll be pets then it’s a good idea to wear a pair of our organic cotton gloves or our open hand mitten T’s, so that you/your little one’s can cover and protect itchy hands before cuddling any furry friends.
Even if you manage to have a relatively stress-free Christmas, temperature change can be tricky for itchy skin. Try not to get too cold by wrapping up with thin cotton layers, and then adding more layers if you are heading out for a winter walk. If you’re extra chilly after a walk, resist the urge to jump into a hot shower or bath and allow your body to warm up gradually before having a lukewarm shower or bath that will soothe and calm inflamed skin.
If you have the heating on, and to save yourself having to spend on a humidifier, place a bowl of cool water next to the radiator. This will stop the room from getting too dry which your skin won’t like.
Food & drink
We recently posted a blog all about managing allergies at Christmas which has some fantastic tips on navigating food/drink this festive season. We don’t think an all or nothing mind-set is healthy, and though we know that alcohol can be a trigger for itchy skin, if you do want to celebrate with a tipple this Christmas then just ensure that you have plenty of water to go along side it. If you’ve got extra annual leave to use, why not schedule a day for yourself afterwards so that you can relax in your Pjs and not need to feel self-conscious if an alcohol induced flare does occur.
If booze is not an option, there are plenty of delicious alcohol-free alternatives that will negate any feelings of FOMO, and as importantly perhaps, not have any family or friends judging you for not drinking… which should not be something any of us have to deal with, and yet…
Miranda particularly recommends Lyre’s non-alcoholic spirits, and for anyone asking, her drink of choice is a No-Groni.
Miranda and her sister Sophie back in the 90's in their sleep suits similar to our's!
Christmas is a funny time of year, especially in this post-COVID/still COVID era. However you spend your festivities this year, we hope that you manage to find moments of comfort and joy regardless of how your skin shows up. From all the team at Cotton Comfort, we wish you a very merry and itch free Christmas.
I’m very happy with all my cotton clothes this winter and only discovered your website when hunting for a cotton bra & then being asked about my birthday presents. I received a pink top, leggings & a wonderful cotton scarf. Then I sent off for even more! I very occasionally wear my old bras to give myself a good shape but I remove them asap when back home!
You’ve helped make a difference to my old age skin & I thank you for all the work you’ve put into your business. Well done!
Caroline Knapp on