Children have a way of getting into everything……and in return, everything has a way of getting into them: sunburn, bug bites, poison ivy, mud and dirt, hives – you name it, and your child has come home with it all over. Because youngsters are prone to dealing with a variety of skin issues like the ones listed above, it is important for parents to know how to react quickly when problems arise.
- Many children suffer from inflammatory skin conditions when they are young. In fact, eczema is found most commonly in infants and children, although most will outgrow the condition as they reach adulthood. Eczema is characterized by dry, red skin rashes, typically found inside the elbows, behind the knees, and in other skin creases. Skin will be itchy, inflamed, and irritated, and young children may not know how to identify the pain or keep from scratching at itchy patches. Oatmeal baths and hydrocortisone creams will help soothe itching, stinging, and inflammation caused by eczema. But make sure you speak with a dermatologist first; your doctor can help you create a treatment plan that will lessen pain and irritation for your kiddo.
- Skin cancer does not discriminate based on age – children of all ages need to wear sunscreen when they spend time outdoors. As recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology, choose a sunscreen that is broad-spectrum, waterproof, and SPF 30 or higher. Help your child apply it over all exposed areas at least 20-30 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours. And don’t skip the slather on cloudy days – 80% of UV rays pass through cloud cover. Newborns should be exposed to direct sun as little as possible; if your infant will be outside, use umbrellas, covered strollers, long sleeves, and hats to keep your baby’s delicate skin safe.
- During the winter, children may develop dry, chapped, and irritated skin. Petroleum jelly is a great, all-natural ointment for sealing moisture into the skin and preventing it from becoming dehydrated. Petroleum jelly is also a wonderful solution to irritation caused by infant diaper rash; the jelly not only heals the rash, but it acts as a protective barrier between the diaper and skin.
- During warm weather, mosquitoes can cause itchy bites your kids won’t be able to resist scratching. Use long sleeved-garments and insect repellent to ward off the pesky buggers.
- For hives, rashes, bug bites, and poison ivy, use ice to cool and calm sore and swollen skin.
There are many preventative measures parents can take at home to keep children’s skin healthy:
- Keep your child out of contact with irritants. Irritants can include cleaning products, perfume and cosmetics, cigarette smoke, chlorine, dust, and sand. When skin is affected by irritants, rashes may develop – a condition known as contact dermatitis.
- Use gentle products for skin care; look for soaps, lotions, and shampoos that are fragrance-free and hypoallergenic. Buy mild laundry detergent as well, because your child’s clothes, towels, and sheets will all come in contact with skin.
- Bathe your child in warm – not hot – water, for short periods of time. Long, hot baths will quickly dehydrate skin.
- Buy a humidifier to use at night. A humidifier will keep cool, moist air moving through the room, and prevent skin from drying out.
Most importantly, start building good skin care habits early. By ages 2-5, parents should be encouraging regular hand and face washing. And remember that most children learn by imitation – let your little ones see you engaging in good washing routines and encourage them to join. By ages 6-9, children should be building their own washing routines and habits. And by ages 10-13, consistent face and body washing routines, as well as a healthy diet, will be necessary as pre-teens hit puberty and skin, hair, and bodies begin changing.
Curious children spend a significant amount of time running outside, rolling around in mud puddles, and poking their fingers in anthills, and are therefore bound to experience various skin inflictions during these adventurous years. However, if your child develops rashes, sores, or wounds that won’t heal, or has been diagnosed with eczema or another inflammatory skin condition, seek help from a dermatologist. At Florida Dermatology and Skin Cancer Centers, we welcome children of all ages. Dr. K. Wade Foster has four children himself and knows all about the kinds of mischief kids can find. Contact our office today to set an appointment for you and your little one at one of our nine convenient locations.