rich emollient used in the management of eczema, psoriasis and other dry skin conditions.


Wool next your skin? You’re probably thinking I’m crazy but this was something of a revelation for me too.

I discovered merino wool in the Lake District a few years ago when I had a pair of thin walking trousers and was finding I couldn’t keep my legs warm. Rather than invest in another pair of expensive thicker lined walking trousers I found some merino longs. The shop assistant assured me that they would not irritate my skin. I was sceptical but they did feel very soft and smooth and so I left the shop with my very first merino garment, Smartwool merino longs.

Well, let’s just say they are now one of my most often worn winter items of clothing. I wear them all the time. They are far more comfortable than cotton tights, much warmer and don’t irritate my skin at all.

What is merino wool?

Merino wool comes from the merino sheep, not surprisingly, but it’s such magic stuff. The wool wicks sweat from the body but also keeps you very warm. It is a very fine quality and is brilliant to knit with (apparently).

It keeps you warm in winter and cool when you’re hot due to it’s superior wicking qualities so it’s a good option for sports men and women – far better than modern sports materials. Amazingly it doesn’t seem to smell, for ages! I have had this theory tested by someone who sweats more than me (I tend not to want to test how long I can wear a garment before it whiffs… but I know a man who can). For heavy exercise modern wicking garments do the job but they also smell pretty bad and need washing regularly. With merino wool, they just don’t seem to smell, for days!

It is pretty incredible how effective they are and how little they smell. You can buy merino socks, beanies, scarves, tops and even underpants. I think I draw the line at wicking underpants but never say never.

Can you be allergic to merino wool?

There is always a possibility that someone, somewhere might be allergic to anything but I can’t find any evidence of anybody having any irritation, sensitivity or allergies to merino wool. Does anyone reading this know differently?

Now I can’t get enough of merino wool; I own a couple of jumpers, a thermal vest, a beanie and they are made from 100% merino wool. The only problem is that it’s often quite expensive but there are some more affordable brands coming onto the market like EDZ; make sure you are buying 100% merino wool to get the full benefits although here are also some merino and silk mixes which also probably work well but I haven’t tried these personally.

It really is such a treat to be able to wear real wool. It does keep you so much warmer than a cotton jumper or a fleece. I honestly didn’t quite believe that I would ever wear wool against my skin, ever, but I do and it’s soft and comfy.

However the extra cost is well worth the expense. I LOVE my merino wool longs. I am wearing the now!



An allergy and health writer and freelance copywriter, Ruth is passionate about helping those with allergies and food intolerances take control, embrace their condition, and learn to live with and love who they are. It can be very lonely finding you have allergies and discovering what helps you can be a life long journey. What works for one person won't work for another, so after trying nearly every allergy treatment under the sun and finding hours of research necessary to keep abreast of what's going on, Ruth started writing her blog, What Allergy? in April 2009. Ruth has life threatening allergies herself to all nuts, all diary, tomatoes and celery and knows first-hand what it's like to have an anaphylactic attack. Voted in the Top 5 UK allergy blogs by Cision UK in 2011, What Allergy is packed full of interesting articles, hints and tips and product reviews which are a must read for anyone with allergies, food intolerances or sensitivities, asthma and eczema. From subjects such as "What is celery allergy?" to "Surviving a holiday abroad with allergies", it's packed with useful and interesting information. You can register free for a weekly newsletter by visiting her website and also keep in touch by following her on Facebook and Twitter.

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