There is general concern about the possible cutaneous adverse effects of wearing garments treated with household laundry products, particularly on atopic skin. Our objective was to compare softened and non- softened fabrics in a forearm wet and dry test, under conditions simulating real-life conditions. Twenty atopic volunteers entered a single-blind 12-day (3 sessions per day) forearm wetting and drying test. Cotton fabrics were machine washed and liquid fabric conditioner was added or not to the final rinse. To simulate conditions of skin damage, a dilute solution of sodium lauryl sulphate was applied under occlusion to the forearm of each volunteer before the start of the study. Skin effects were evaluated by visual grading (redness, dryness and smoothness), squamometry and in vivo instrumental measurements (capacitance, transepidermal water loss and colorimetry). Rubbing of atopic skin with fabrics generally resulted in discrete to moderate alterations of the structure of the stratum corneum. Both for control and pre-irritated skin, all measured parameters indicated that softened fabric was less aggressive to the skin than unsoftened fabric. In the case of pre-irritated skin, the recovery of the skin was significantly faster when rubbed with softened than with unsoftened fabrics. In conclusion, softened fabrics help mitigate the skin condition in atopic patients.

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