Trial to see if silk will help eczema patients

Sarah Harman from Whiteley with her son Max
Sarah Harman from Whiteley with her son Max
Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage.

Picture: Steve Reid

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LIVING with a condition that causes young Max Harman to continually scratch is extremely frustrating.

That’s why the eight-year-old is taking part in a University of Portsmouth trial and will wear specialist eczema clothing for six months.

His mum Sarah Harman, of Johnson View, Whiteley, also suffers from the skin problem.

She said: ‘We found out about the trial after an article in The News.

‘Seeing Max covered in red, itchy eczema absolutely breaks my heart.

‘I see the frustration in his eyes as he tries not to scratch, but he is fighting a losing battle – especially when a lot of the damage can be caused at night in his sleep.

‘Max is a confident, loving, gentle, clever little chap who tries so hard to not have his life ruled by his condition.’

Max, who goes to Sarisbury Infant School, has a grass allergy which means he can no longer play football.

Sometimes excessive scratching in his sleep results in bleeding, which means he is unable to go to sleepovers.

Max said: ‘It’s really annoying because it won’t go. It causes me to scratch and I try not to.

‘But then it all goes wrong and I end up itching. I can’t play football and I feel disappointed.’

The university is testing specialist silk clothing to see if it can help people with eczema.

This trial has been funded by the National Institute for Health Research – the research and development arm of the NHS.

There are 60 children on the study nationally, with 33 recruited by researchers at Portsmouth.

Professor Tara Dean, director of research, said: ‘If research can show these garments provide additional benefits for patients, then this would be an important finding, and many eczema sufferers could benefit.

‘Equally, if the research shows the clothes provide no useful benefit, then patients and the NHS can save money by not using treatments that have been shown to be ineffective.’

Children on the trial are split into two groups with only half getting the specialist clothing, which is either a bodysuit and leggings or a vest and leggings, depending on the child’s age.