You can use all sorts of different things as wraps, from pyjamas to sleepsuits, socks, gloves and bandages. It all depends on where on the body you’re trying to wrap and how comfortable the bandages are!
The good news is that if you don’t want to buy new garments or bandages you can use whatever you have to hand!
Thin cotton, bamboo or viscose socks; clean rolls of gauze bandages from the medicine cabinet; tubular arm, knee, or leg bandages; these can all work well as both damp layers and top dry layers. You can use sleepsuits, pyjamas, leggings or fine long-sleeved tops for the dry layer; it just needs to fit close to the body and to cover over the damp layer completely.
The downside to non-specialist wraps is that they can get uncomfortable, bulky, overly hot or dry out too quickly. In that case, you may want to find bandages/garments that were specially designed for wet wrapping.
If you have a child with eczema, ask your pharmacist what you could get on prescription.
Your doctor might well prescribe specially-made garments, made from medical-grade viscose, with polyamide and elastane for added stretch. You can get gloves, tights, mittens, vests, and leggings made out of medical grade viscose to use as bandages for wet wrapping.
You can also get various sizes, lengths and thicknesses of tubular bandages, again made from medical grade viscose. They come with different coloured stripes according to their size. If you're needing to wrap a big area of the body, then large tubular bandages can be the easiest and the most cost-effective way to do it!
Silk and other natural fibres
You can also use very fine, seamless, dermatological-grade silk garments as wraps; these are no longer available on prescription from the NHS (UK), but can be bought online. These include pyjamas, socks and underwear, but also accessories such as medical grade silk cuffs to wrap wrist eczema, scarves for inflamed necks, and face masks for sore, flared faces. Silk is said to be hypoallergenic, and to prevent overheating.
Both cotton and bamboo can used as part of a wrapping treatment, whether as pyjamas, sleepsuits or other garments; they’re often available organically produced, non-GMO and unbleached, so that might be a plus point for you.
There are also various smart fabrics, such as those containing silver (which aims to reduce infection on the skin), or those made with bamboo polymers and viscose to cool down skin without it feeling wet. These aren't cheap but can be useful - it is not always the case that 100% natural is best!
Your pharmacist will be your first port of call in any decisions about what bandages to use for wet wrapping! You can make your choice based on:
- what’s available on prescription
- how much they cost
- where the eczema is on the body
- how often you need to use wet wraps
- whether the bandages or garments you use will get stained with emollient
- what suits you or your child best
It may be that a simple roll of viscose, tubular bandage is most useful, in terms of how much you get through and how versatile it is. Expensive silk pyjamas might be great as an outer layer, but are not very practical right next to very oily emollient!
Skin Salvation is an ideal ointment to use under wraps. It protects, moisturises and nourishes and is free from common irritants, and, most importantly, is designed so it doesn’t sting sore skin when applied!
In this series of articles about wet and dry wrapping, we’re focusing on using wraps with emollient creams, not with topical steroids. Always consult with a doctor or nurse if you’re using steroid creams as their potency may be increased when used under wet wraps and could damage the skin.
Skin Salvation balm with hemp and chamomile, from £7.99 for 30ml
Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash with nettle & chickweed, £19 for 200ml
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.