Dermatologists discover skin disorder caused by socks

Parents might be causing their children scarring simply by choosing the wrong socks, new research in the British Journal of Dermatology will suggest.

According to the study, ‘sock-line bands’ is a newly discovered condition in babies, caused by tight bands of elastic around the top of socks or the bottom of trousers.

Researchers believe that the tight elastic causes inflammation in the dermis (the lower layer of skin) or in the subcutaneous fat, which once healed can leave visible marks along the sock line.

Dermatologists from across France, the USA and the UK have so far reported at least ten cases with these symptoms, although the exact causes have remained under dispute.

In March, dermatologists at the University Hospital of Montpellier, France, described two children with similar symptoms and speculated that sock elastic may play a part.¹

Now, dermatologists at Washington University School of Medicine and St Louis Children’s Hospital, USA, have identified five more cases, which they believe confirm that sock elastic is the primary cause of such lesions.

According to the Washington University team, several cases featured raised skin along the sock-line, and most showed ‘hyperpigmentation’ – where the skin becomes darker than the surrounding skin. The hyperpigmentation may fade but leave raised lines of skin coloured lesions.

In their report, the researchers distinguish sock-line bands from other raised limb bands developing in infancy and not linked to clothing (‘acquired raised bands of infancy’), and ‘amniotic band syndrome’ which develops in the womb.

One of the study’s authors, Dr David Berk, explains: “The disorder ‘acquired raised bands of infancy’ is characterized by skin-coloured, often diagonal plaques on the arms, trunk or legs, including the thighs as well as the calves.

“Sock-line bands, however, are darker, horizontal lines that only appear on the ankle or calf.

“Furthermore, in contrast to sock-line hyperpigmentation, ‘acquired raised bands of infancy’ has been associated with amniotic bands in the womb, limb constrictions and limb defects including foreshortened toes and clubfoot, and pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia, prematurity and placental abruption.

“Sock line bands appear to have a benign course, however it is important that we recognise the disorder to allow us to collect data and cases, to better characterise how the lesions develop.”

Dr Colin Holden, President of the British Association of Dermatologists, said: “There are already thousands of skin disorders treated by dermatology, and this is a prime example of how research is discovering new patterns of symptoms all the time.

“Dermatologists from around the world will look at case studies and new theories in the British Journal of Dermatology, and this allows shared knowledge to develop and researchers to learn from each other’s work.

“That is what has led to the development of this new hypothesis – researchers from across Europe and the US have discussed different cases of children with bands on their limbs, and different theories have been developed by comparing similarities in symptoms.

“While these bands are generally harmless, it is valuable for researchers to be able to discuss this possible new phenomenon in relation to already established skin disorders.”


¹ M.M. Marque, B. Guillot, G. Le Gallic, D. Bessis (2007), Raised limb bands in infancy: a post-traumatic aetiology? British Journal of Dermatology 156 (3), 578–579. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2133.2006.07673.x

Notes to editors:

1.If using this information, please ensure you mention that the study is being released in the British Journal of Dermatology, the official publication of the British Association of Dermatologists. 

2. Articles in the BJD can be viewed online:

3. Study details: ‘Sock-line bands in infancy’, Published in British Journal of Dermatology, D.R. Berk, S.J. Bayliss, Departments of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, Division of Dermatology, Washington University School of Medicine and St Louis Children’s Hospital, 660 S. Euclid – Campus Box 8123, St. Louis, MO 63110, U.S.A.

The British Association of Dermatologists is the central association of practising UK dermatologists. Our aim is to continually improve the treatment and understanding of skin disease.

Blackwell Publishing is a leading society publisher, partnering with 665 medical, academic and professional societies. Blackwell publishes over 800 journals and has over 6,000 books in print. In February 2007, Blackwell Publishing officially merged with John Wiley & Sons, Inc's Scientific, Technical and Medical business. For more information on Blackwell Publishing, please visit or

For more information please contact:  Nina Goad, British Association of Dermatologists Communications Manager, Phone: 0207 391 6355, Email:, Website:

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