BIOFUNCTIONAL TEXTILES – NEW APPROACHES FOR THERAPY AND PREVENTION IN DERMATOLOGY
Authors: C. Wiegand, J. W. Fluhr, P. Elsner and U. C. Hipler
Abstract: Functional textiles have been gaining in importance in medical applications. The skin is the major interface between body and environment. Textiles have the longest and most intense contact to the human skin. They play a critical role in inflammatory skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis, or in diabetic patients as well as in aged skin. Psoriasis vulgaris and atopic dermatitis are characterized by various different clinical and histological features depending on the stage of the disease. Lesional skin of patients with psoriasis or atopic dermatitis is heavily infiltrated with activated neutrophils that produce pro-inflammatory cytokines and free radicals. The cellulose fiber industry is continuously working to improve the benefits which cellulose fibers bring to non-woven products and to deliver them cost-effectively. As part of this strategy, direct formation of cellulose webs has long been a subject of research. Lyocell is a relatively new technology, used for the commercial production of stable cellulose fibers. In the process, cellulose is directly dissolved without formation of derivatives. The resulting fiber offers a broad range of benefits and has gained wide acceptance for textile and non-woven applications. Furthermore, the fibers can be loaded with numerous additives for textile fabrics, e.g. SeaCell® fibers are manufactured by adding seaweed mainly from the family of brown and red algae. Antimicrobial therapy has been shown to be important for treatment of atopic dermatitis as more than 30% of these patients suffer from frequent skin infections and over 90% of the patients are colonized with Staphylococcus aureus. Ideally antimicrobial textiles should respect the physiological skin flora and guarantee excellent skin tolerability. Modern textile technical solutions offer product qualities close to this ideal. An example for fibers which meet these requirements is SeaCell® active, the antimicrobial effect of this fiber is achieved by metal ion activation of the lyocell fibers with incorporated seaweed. In vivo studies demonstrated an excellent antimicrobial activity of SeaCell® active against different germs. Thus, this fiber seems to be suited for bio-active textiles in specific body regions and skin conditions. The mode of action can be attributed at least partially to anti-oxidant properties shown in in vitro assays. The silver containing SeaCell® active showed anti-microbial activity against S.aureus without any negative effects on non-pathogenic bacteria. Clinical appearance showed a slightly positive effect but did not reach statistical significance. Production processes can affect fiber shape and thus the textile performance, therefore their influence needs to be investigated systematically.