Dorothy Clark Founder of Pure Cotton Comfort
With 40 years experience in the eczema clothing market I have an unmatched depth of knowledge of what works and clothing solutions to cope with itchy scratchy eczema.
Our cornerstone is soft organic cotton, grown without toxins and processed without chemicals along with designs that really do provide you with help and comfort.
"Many customers tell us that they remember the comfort of wearing my eczema nightwear when they were children and are now buying for their own little ones."
The Story Begins
My story begins when my daughter (pictured) was born in 1977. By 1978 she had developed appalling eczema, she screamed and scratched day and night. Eczema on her eyelids meant that often her eyes had to be bathed open in the morning, socks would become 'stuck' to eczema on her feet and removed by soaking in the bath or cut off Sores on her scalp meant that her hair could not be washed or brushed without distress. As a result she was greeted by family and strangers alike – not with the usual smiles and 'baby talk' but with frowns and 'oh dear' and 'poor thing'. Not good for her developing character and self esteem.
Nothing can prepare you or your family for the sheer distress of a seeing your child tearing at itchy eczema, waking covered with blood where they have scratched themselves raw. The sleepless nights impacting on partner and siblings and the low self esteem of the child told 'do not scratch' when they have no choice. The whole family was affected and sleep deprived.
Thankfully we had emerged from the 1950's when children were tied to hospital beds in wooden splints to prevent scratching but even in the 1970's babies and children still endured mittens tied tightly around sore wrists – a practice now outlawed, thank goodness.
"My search for cotton clothes began."
I was advised to 'tape socks on to her sore hands', but of course this squashed her fingers making them hotter and itchier and they had to be tied or taped around her wrists which were already very sore and painful. I was told to dress her in 100% cotton clothes – surprising hard to find in late '70's, a world of brushed nylon bed sheets, where men were wearing 'drip dry' nylon shirts – Ugh! My search for cotton clothes began – trousers were no good as she pulled them up to scratch.
The most itchy time was at night so to prevent her tearing at the eczema on her legs I began to sew her into a cotton pillowcase every night – then she found she could rub her ankles together and scratch that way.
She used the inner seams to scratch against and wore most of her clothes inside out so I made her an 'all in one' suit with buttoned cuffs, seams on the outside and buttons down the back. This was my 1st design – the same one we continue to sell 40 years later (Art X08).
"He offered to get the machine running again, if I ordered 3,000 pairs."
She was desperate to wear a dress, like her big sister and although children's tights at that time were 100% nylon, I was determined to find some cotton tights for her. The Eczema Society had been formed in 1976, following an article written by journalist Christine Orton, about her experiences with her son's eczema, so I contacted her to see if she could help - 'let me know if you find any' she said.
In desperation I called dozens of factories - pre internet meant sitting in the local library searching through phone books! Eventually the boss of a factory in Leicester remembered some old machinery that had been used to make cotton tights 'year's ago'. He offered to get the machine running again, if I ordered 3,000 pairs. I was so desperate by then that I said 'OK' - then panicked when I put the phone down.
Before the tights arrived, I had sold them all.
I phoned Christine, at The Eczema Society, who was delighted and she mentioned the tights in their next leaflet. As a result, I was inundated with requests and before the tights arrived, I had sold them all.
By 1979 I was tracking down other hard to find items and selling them on to other desperate eczema sufferers – creating a 'self help' group rather than a business. 1980 saw me putting together a basic leaflet to send out to enquirers choosing the name 'Cotton On' for my venture – then production in 1981 of my 1st colour brochure.
Gradually the business took over the house and I moved it into premises. I became aware of the chemicals being used in conventional cotton production which have such adverse effects on eczematous skin – especially formaldehyde – the use of which has increased today with the advent of cheap clothing from China/Bangladesh etc.
Designing different nightwear solutions for eczema which no one had done before attracted a lot of publicity – Good Housekeeping Magazine giving me the title of 'Enterprising Woman' and Professor David Atherton, at Great Ormond Street Hospital, gave his approval for the designs I had produced and advised what was needed for his patients.
A 1983 appearance on Breakfast TV, being interviewed by Mary Parkinson (wife of Michael Parkinson), resulted in sacks full of post from desperate eczema sufferers – the business grew.
Organic cotton, in the mid 1980's, was unsuitable for itchy skin
Production of organic cotton started in the mid 1980's, however the early fabric was unsuitable for itchy skin – it was under processed leaving bits of cotton husk in the fibres. Developed to be 'earth friendly' it was very non skin friendly.
With more time to devote to Cotton On, it thrived and grew. However, it got big too quickly – each new piece of publicity sent customers to our door all wanting catalogues which had to be printed – expenditure before sales - and without backing or funding, Cotton On went into liquidation in 1997.
Cotton Comfort was born
It was not my intention to start another business however, after a few weeks, 2 things happened, at the same time - the owner of the factory, that had made my eczema pyjamas, called me to ask if I was starting again – when I said 'no', he replied that he had made me some stock and I needed to sell it and at the same time, I was receiving sacks of post from desperate people who had been Cotton On customers and could not manage without our products. So, I decided that I should connect the two – the stock that had been made and the customers who needed it. I started from a spare bedroom and Cotton Comfort was born.
All the existing designs were updated and improved based on my previous experiences with 9 eczema nightwear designs registered at Patent office. These designs have been modified, improved and tried and tested over the years and we are proud to be recognised by the National Eczema Society for our “invaluable range of eczema clothing.” and by the country's leading consultant Paediatric Dermatologist as having “ a range of garments that are the best available anywhere for their purpose.”
Within a short time I was again very busy and employing helpers – packing parcels at 2am to keep up with demand. Cotton Comfort is now based in a warehouse in Devon.
Cotton Comfort ship worldwide
Need it quickly? Our garments are also sold worldwide by our Registered Wholesale partners.
Overseas customers can purchase the real thing from:
CANADA & USA: www.eczemacompany.com
BEWARE of cheaply made fake copies of our eczema nightwear registered designs that have entered the market in both Australia (from aformer wholesale supplier) & New Zealand (from a former Cotton Comfort customer). These are poor quality, have raised seams and are not certified Organic and may contain harmful toxins.