How to Choose Products for Your Child's Sensitive Skin


Susan Fishman

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Even though sensitive skin is an common issue for many people, there's a lot we don't know about it. But recent research has uncovered some surprising information.

What to Avoid With Sensitive Skin

Try these tips to minimize irritations to sensitive skin.
Having a child with sensitive skin can make shopping a tricky task; it seems like every product out there has some ingredient that could irritate, inflame, dry or burn your little one’s delicate skin. But knowing what to look for and what to stay away from can make the job a lot easier, and your child a lot happier.
  • 1.

    Soap and Shampoo

    Many soaps and shampoos are also loaded with harsh chemicals and synthetic fragrances that can irritate your child’s sensitive skin. When choosing a cleanser, look for brands that are made from natural ingredients and that say “hypoallergenic,” “tear-free” and “fragrance-free,” such as Aquaphor Baby Wash and Shampoo. When washing, it can also help to use warm water (not too hot) and limit the number of baths and showers to 3 to 4 times a week.
  • 2.


    As with soaps and cleansers, look for “gentle” and “mild” lotions made from mostly natural ingredients, such as chamomile, calendula and aloe, which help soothe the skin. A great choice is Shea Moisture Organic Raw Shea Chamomile & Argan Oil Baby Head-to-Toe Ointment, which is gentle enough for everyday use. If dry skin is an issue, petroleum jelly is a good choice for some kids with sensitive skin. The best time to apply a lotion or cream is just after bathing, when your child’s skin is still damp, to help lock in moisture. For older children, choose facial moisturizers that are “noncomedogenic,” which won’t cause blocked pores.
  • 3.

    Laundry Detergent

    When choosing a laundry detergent, products designed specifically for babies can be a good option since they are formulated for the most delicate skin. Or choose a product clinically tested for sensitive skin, such as Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Plus. Make sure the product is hypoallergenic and free of colors and fragrances, which can sometimes irritate sensitive skin. Stick with liquid detergents, if possible, which tend to rinse out easier than powder detergents do. And avoid anti-static products or fabric softeners, which often contain chemicals and fragrances, as well.
  • 4.


    Using sunscreen year-round is important for everyone, but for children with sensitive skin, it’s especially vital to fully protect them from harmful rays. California Baby® makes a product for super sensitive baby skin, but you don’t need to choose a sunscreen designed specifically for kids. Buy products with the active ingredient titanium dioxide, which reflects the harmful ultraviolet (UV) light rays. Avoid sunscreens with para-aminobenzoic acid, or PABA, a naturally occurring non-protein amino acid, which can cause skin allergies. Also, choose products with a sun protection factor (SPF) or 30 or 45, and apply generously and evenly, trying not to miss any spots like the neck or middle of the back. And be sure to reapply after swimming or sweating.
  • 5.


    Some children have allergic reactions to adhesive or latex, so finding bandages they can tolerate can be a challenge. Look for brands designed specifically for “sensitive skin,” such as Curad Sensitive Skin Bandages—they have flexible, hypoallergenic fabric that won’t irritate the skin, and makes removal painless for your child. 

  • 6.

    Clothing and Bedding

    Sometimes it’s easy to forget about your child’s sensitive skin when shopping for bedding or clothing, but these can be strong irritants, as well. For fabrics, think soft and comfortable. Look for items with fine weaves or made from natural materials like cotton. Bamboo bedding is another great choice because it’s hypoallergenic and has fine, round fibers that are smooth and non-abrasive. Stay away from products made from wool or nylon that can be itchy and irritating to sensitive skin.
  • 7.

    Try 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.
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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Feb 24, 2017

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