AS YOUR CHILDREN GROW, IT’S IMPORTANT THAT THEY BATHE REGULARLY, FORMING THE BASIS OF A GOOD SKIN CARE ROUTINE.
As children get older, their bodies undergo many changes, including increased activity in the glands affecting the skin. Beginning as early as age eight or nine, the sebaceous glands, which are responsible for oil production, can kick into overdrive, and the sweat glands begin to enlarge. More perspiration means body odor, caused by bacteria on the skin that thrive in the presence of sweat. Daily warm-water baths or showers help keep skin clean, and become more important for children as oil and sweat production increase.
Children who have dry or sensitive skin should use a mild non-perfumed soap and moisturize immediately after bathing with a good non-perfumed lotion or cream. While petrolatum remains the best choice for skin lubrication, many older children object to the greasy feel.
The beginning of puberty may also be the appropriate time to introduce the idea of a deodorant/antiperspirant to your child. Consider a mild combination product aimed at young teens or, if a rash or other irritation develops, try a deodorant-only product that does not contain aluminum compounds. Children with allergies or sensitive skin may be bothered by the perfumes in some products, so have your child test it on a small area of skin first before using it in the entire armpit area.
Atopic dermatitis – Eczema
Children who are predisposed to allergies may develop atopic dermatitis, also known aseczema, a common condition in which the skin becomes itchy and inflamed. Parents and older children can learn to recognize irritants and allergens that worsen the symptoms and try to avoid them. Common irritants include wool, synthetic fibers, perfumes, certain soaps and detergents, and cigarette smoke.
Parents can also help their child establish a routine that will keep skin healthy and free from irritation. Bathing should be with warm water only, followed by a skin lubricant. Clothes made from cotton will irritate less and aid in keeping skin cool and dry. To prevent scratching, see that your child’s fingernails are kept short.
In many cases, an over-the-counter topical steroid such as hydrocortisone cream can halt the itching and help the skin to heal. If the condition worsens, ask your health care provider or pediatric nurse practitioner to recommend a prescription medication.
Any child who develops sunburn is at increased risk for skin cancer in adulthood. Although the sun’s rays are strongest during the summer, sun protection is just as important in the winter months and on cloudy days. Children of all ages should avoid direct sun between the hours of 10am and 3pm. If they are out in the sun, exposed skin should be covered with clothing as much as possible. There are products available in stores, such as SunGuard™, that add sun protection to clothes during the washing process. Children should also wear a hat and sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection.