''elusive'' goal of helping to create the ''perfect sock'' is
serious business for a group of University of Otago
The team is investigating how different fibres used in socks
affect skin health, the research being funded by the New
Zealand wool industry and the Ministry of Business Innovation
Department of applied sciences head Prof Raechel Laing, who
worked on the research, said initial results showed wool was
the kindest fabric on the skin.
The wool industry could use the results to help sell socks to
growing numbers of ''worried well'', who were increasingly
concerned about where products came from and how they might
affect their health.
''The wool industry are interested in research which allows
them to confidently make claims about the performance of
The research involved testing the effect of three different
fabrics - cotton, acrylic and wool - on 16 Dunedin men who
participated in the study.
The researchers measured the health of the skin by testing pH
levels, water content and water loss from the skin.
To make sure the results were not skewed, each subject had to
wear the same type of shoe - made by Dunedin company
Overall, wool came out on top, which came as a ''relief'' to
Associate Prof Cheryl Wilson said being funded by the wool
industry had no impact on the outcome.
''No-one had any idea what the outcome would be.''
The socks, made by NZ Socks in Ashburton, were coded so the
researchers could be sure of the fabric and clearly marked
for the left or right foot.
Prof Laing said this was not the only research members of the
group had worked on aimed at finding the ideal sock.
''The perfect sock is elusive,'' she said.
Other research, led by Rebecca Van Amber, focused on how the
properties of different fabrics could affect friction levels
and potentially affect the likelihood of developing blisters.
That research, published in the Textile Research
Journal, found that fabrics composed of fine wool created
the least friction and acrylic the highest.