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Do's and Don'ts for Your Child's Sensitive Skin

By

Susan Fishman

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This content is created or selected by the Healthgrades editorial team and is funded by an advertising sponsor. The content is subject to the Healthgrades medical review process for accuracy, balance and objectivity. The content is not edited or otherwise influenced by the advertisers appearing on this page except with the possible suggestion of the broad topic area. For more information, read the HealthGrades advertising policy.

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Recent research has uncovered some surprising information about sensitive skin.

What to Avoid With Sensitive Skin

It’s difficult to identify the triggers that might bring about sensitive skin flare-ups. Try these tips to minimize irritations.
mother-drying-off-son-after-bath

Caring for sensitive skin is delicate business, especially when it comes to your child. Chances are, you’re probably doing everything you can to help prevent any itching, burning, dryness or irritation.

But there may be some things you are doing — or not doing — that could be causing more harm than good.  

DO wash before wearing.

If your child develops a rash or irritation on his body for no apparent reason, it could be irritating substances present on new clothing worn without washing. For children with sensitive skin, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends washing new clothing and towels before using them. Although you don’t need to use a special laundry detergent for babies, sometimes these can be milder for children with sensitive skin. Just be sure to read the ingredients, and make sure the product is hypoallergenic (likely to cause fewer allergic reactions) and free of dyes and fragrances.

DON’T linger in the tub.

Though baths can remove irritants from the skin and help prevent infections, they can also dry out the skin by removing its natural oils. This can be especially bothersome for kids with sensitive skin. Try limiting baths to 3 to 4 times a week. If you would like to bathe your child every day, cut back on bath time (no more than 10 minutes), and avoid harsh soaps and bubbles, which can be drying when they remain on the skin. Use lukewarm water and a mild, unscented cleanser only in the places that need washing. Your child’s pediatrician or dermatologist can recommend a good brand.

When your child has sensitive skin, it can be hard to protect him or her from rashes and discomfort—but with the right tools, you can help find relief.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Apr 28, 2017

2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

DON’T scrub or rub.

When washing your child’s delicate skin, it’s important not to scrub, which can cause redness and irritation. Carefully wash using your hands and a mild cleanser, if possible. For especially dirty areas, gently wash with a soft cloth. After a bath or shower, gently pat the skin dry with a towel.

DO keep the moisture in.

If your child suffers from dry skin, it’s time to replace some moisture. Be sure your child is drinking enough water throughout the day, which helps replace the moisture that naturally evaporates from the skin. But the skin also needs moisturizer to keep the water in. Use a gentle, unscented moisturizing cream at least twice a day to help prevent dryness. The best time is right after bathing when the skin is still damp. It can also help to use a cool mist humidifier in your child’s room.

DON’T believe the hype.

When choosing products for your child, it can get a bit confusing — “tear-free”, “fragrance-free,” “free and clear.” How do you know what to choose? Though many products like soaps and shampoos are labeled “natural,” they can still contain harsh chemicals and synthetic fragrances that can irritate your child’s sensitive skin. It’s always best to consult the ingredient list. Look for mostly natural ingredients, and avoid any products with allergens, dyes or fragrances.

DO test it out.

If you’re trying a new product on your child’s skin, be sure to test an area on the inside of his wrist or arm. Watch for any redness or irritation over the next 24 hours. If a rash develops, or his skin feels itchy, hot, dry or like it's burning, stop using the product. Try something different, or talk to your doctor about other options for sensitive skin.

DO consult a dermatologist.

Sometimes even your best efforts to protect your child’s skin may not be enough. If your child is still suffering from irritation or dryness, talk to your pediatrician. He or she may recommend a dermatologist who can prescribe a soothing ointment or recommend additional tips for your child’s sensitive skin.

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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Feb 21, 2017

© 2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

View Sources

Medical References

  1. Dry Skin Care. Nationwide Children’s. http://www.nationwidechildrens.org/dry-skin-care
  2. Taking Care of Your Skin. Kidshealth.org. http://kidshealth.org/kid/stay_healthy/body/skin_care.html
  3. How to Manage Your Child’s Dry, Sensitive Skin. Msn.com. http://www.msn.com/en-gb/health/aveeno/how-to-manage-your-childs-dry-sensitive-skin/ar-BB5d8wW
  4. Laundering Your Baby’s Clothes. Kidshealth.org. http://kidshealth.org/parent/pregnancy_center/newborn_care/laundry.html
  5. Atopic Eczema: Treatment. NHS Choices. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Eczema-(atopic)/Pages/Treatment.aspx

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