6 Healthy Ways to Protect Your Child's Skin
A little one’s skin is so soft and delicate. It’s also incredibly sensitive and loses moisture quickly. Their thin skin is easy to damage, which means chemical irritants, allergens, and bacteria can infiltrate more easily, causing infections and inflammation. In a nutshell, keeping a child’s skin healthy, clean, and moisturized can be a challenge. Here’s what you need to know about skincare for children.
1. Reduce the risk of sunburn.
Babies and children of all ages benefit from avoiding sun exposure. Take advantage of the shade. Sit under a tree or a canopy when possible. Protect your baby’s head, neck, and ears with a soft, wide-brimmed hat. Tight weave fabrics are superior to loose ones when it comes to sun protection. Try to keep clothing lightweight, breathable, and loose, yet long enough to cover the skin.
Try to head out before 10:00 am or after 4:00 pm. Avoid mid-day activities when ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the strongest. Many parents mistakenly believe that the sun is only harmful on a bright, cloudless day. The truth is that it's not the sunlight you can see that’s the problem – it’s the UV rays that are dangerous. Your child could be at a greater risk for sunburn on cloudy or misty days because it will feel cooler, and consequently you’ll stay outside longer. Sun exposure is also greater at high altitudes. And while a wide-brimmed hat or a sun umbrella is helpful, neither provide 100% protection because ultraviolet rays reflect off sand, water, snow, concrete, and many other surfaces.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 to 30 on your child. More research is needed to determine if anything higher than SPF 50 actually offers additional protection. Opt for mineral-based sunscreen with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide when possible. These are great for sensitive areas of the body, like the nose, cheeks, tops of the ears, and shoulders. This type of sunscreen won’t rub completely into the skin, but it is available in fun colors that children enjoy. Avoid products with oxybenzone (chemical-based sunscreen) when possible due to concerns about mild hormonal properties. That said, it's more important to prevent sunburn from ever occurring, so using any sunscreen is better than not using it at all.
Zoey Naturals SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen provides both UVA and UVB sun protection and is infused with nutrients to keep your baby's skin nourished.
2. Avoid products with preservatives, fragrances, or dyes.
A child’s thin skin absorbs far more ingredients than an adult’s skin will. Dermatologists advise choosing a gentle cleanser products with the fewest ingredients possible. Research shows that an ideal infant cleanser prevents oils and other impurities from mixing with water, making the removal of dirt and bacteria easier. Some of the best skincare products for children include Cetaphil and Vanicream Gentle Wash for Babies or bar soaps like Dove which are gentle, safe, and affordable options.
Bear in mind that some products marked “unscented” may still have added perfume to hide any chemical smells. These additional scents can be irritating for some children. Products labeled “natural” may also contain multiple ingredients that can irritate young skin. Select single-ingredient “natural” products when possible, like 100% pure aloe, shea butter, coconut oil, or petroleum jelly.
3. Moisturize regularly and use more than you’d think.
Regular moisturizing helps improve skin health, but most parents don’t use enough on their children. Dermatologists recommend using about a tablespoon on each area of their body. Their skin should be shiny and glossy when you’re finished (almost looking as though you’ve applied to much). All that moisturizer will be absorbed within a few minutes, though. Give kids a rub down after every bath to lock in moisture and keep skin fresh and healthy.
Zoey Naturals Soothing Lavender Lotion provides hours of hydration to the skin. Zoey Naturals entire line of family products is free of harsh chemicals and gentle on the environment.
4. Give wounds proper after-care.
Clean scrapes, cuts, and other minor injuries with just soap and water. Pat dry, then apply a simple ointment like petroleum jelly on top to keep a scab from forming and stalling the healing process. Be aware that the ingredients in some antibiotic ointments may be irritating to some children’s skin, resulting in rash, redness, and irritation. Healing skin is delicate so you’ll also want to protect it from sun exposure with clothing or sunscreen to avoid discoloration and permanent pigment changes.
5. Keep baby clean and dry (and use plenty of diaper rash cream).
The most important thing you can do to prevent diaper rash is to keep your baby’s bottom clean and dry. During a diaper change, gently cleanse the area with a soft cloth or a little squirt of water from a water bottle. Hypoallergenic wipes are best. Avoid anything containing alcohol. If the diaper area is irritated, a daily bath will help remove debris, irritants, and possible bacteria.
Fragrance-free zinc oxide and petrolatum products are excellent choices for treating diaper rash. The paste is essentially a protective shield that protects the skin from whatever is inside the diaper. If the paste is clean, you don’t need to wipe it off during a change; just add a bit more on top. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Dermatology, there’s really no such thing as too much diaper paste. They advise applying it in a thick layer, like frosting on a cupcake.
Treat and prevent diaper rash with Burt's Bees Baby Diaper Rash Ointment. Formulated with 40% zinc oxide and sweet almond oil for maximum protection, this ointment creates an emollient layer that shields the baby from wetness that can irritate delicate skin. No more fear of what lurks under the diaper - nothing but a smooth, healthy bottom.
6. Keep them clean but don’t over-bathe.
Newborn infants don’t need a daily bath. Thorough, regular cleansing of the face, neck, and diaper area are all most babies need at first. It’s also a good practice to wipe down the folds of skin around the armpits, chin, thighs, and groin area with a wet washcloth. For most babies, three baths per week are plenty until they become more active and mobile. Bathing your little one too often can dry out their skin.
Even older babies and young children don’t need a heavy dose of soap. They don’t have the oils, body sweats, or hormones to cause significant odor. A heartier scrubdown is usually only necessary when they’re visibly dirty, after swimming, or after sunscreen or insect repellent has been used. Otherwise, use a gentle cleaner to wash their stinkiest parts (feet, groin, armpits) and use plain water on the rest.
When you’re all finished with bathing, quickly remove your infant from the tub and wrap them in a towel, covering the top of their head to maximize warmth. Dab them dry and massage a little fragrance-free, hypoallergenic moisturizing lotion into their skin to help it retain moisture.
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