She’s been that way since she was born. Sensitive to smells, to sounds, to textures, motion and sunlight and even to the air she breathes. Loud noises make her cringe or cower in fear, especially public bathrooms with super-powered hand dryers and heavy duty toilets that flush by themselves.
And then there is her skin.
Her poor, delicate, easily irritated, ultra sensitive skin.
Bug bites, made unbearably itchy by an allergic reaction, become a collection of open sores on her arms & legs. Scented creams or harsh ingredients cause immediate rashes and inflammation. Any clothing with an itchy tags or rough seams is completely intolerable, and even at four years old (and potty trained), she still gets terrible diaper rashes.
Do any of your kids have skin like this?
She’s so sensitive that at her last checkup with the doctor, I was sure something must be terribly wrong. This much sensitivity just cannot be normal! Alas, according to our pediatrician sensitive skin is not only well within the norm, it is actually a very common ailment for light-haired, fair skinned kids. Unfortunately, she told us, there is no real cure, just a few ways to manage it.
Over the years, we’ve just learned to deal with it in the best way we can, and have found that there are a few tips that have helped a lot. If you too are struggling with your child’s sensitive skin, these five strategies may work for you as well:
1. Use LOTS of thick cream
One of the best ways to protect sensitive skin is to keep it moisturized. The dryer the skin, the more sensitive it will be. Applying generous amounts of hypoallergenic, thick white cream will really help. Our favorite cream is Dr. Smith’s which we discovered a few years ago when I got some free samples at a blogging conference. We have been addicted to it ever since! It is technically sold as a diaper rash ointment, but since it is thick and creamy unscented and so amazing, we usually use it as a full body moisturizer. (It is available nationwide at Walgreens or online; get a $2.00 off coupon here!) It works especially well applied to damp skin after a bath or shower.
2. Bathe carefully
Baths strip the body of natural oils, leaving skin dry and unprotected. Cutting down the number of baths your child takes per week, limiting them to 3-4 instead of daily, can allow her skin more time to build up its natural defenses. Of course kids will be kids, and obviously whether this is feasible will depend a lot on your child and how dirty they get on a daily basis! While a hot bath always seems more inviting, that warmer water will strip those natural oils even faster. When you do give your child a bath or shower, especially if you must do it daily, keep the water temperature as lukewarm as your child can stand. Finally, avoid harsh soaps or scented bubble baths, but try adding a little oatmeal to soothe & moisten the skin.
3. Choose non-irritating clothing
I have found that soft natural fabrics, such as cotton knits tend to be the least irritating to my little one’s skin. I choose clothing without tags whenever possible, or else cut them out. Paying attention to how apparel is put together really helps too–if something feels a little scratchy or rough to me, I know it will feel a hundred times worse to her.
4. Use unscented detergent
The fewer allergens and scents you use in your home and on or near your child’s skin, the less chance there will be for irritation. Whenever possible, choose unscented cleaning and laundry products, including laundry detergent, fabric softener, and any other cleaners, lotions, soaps, and bubble baths.
5. Guard against the elements
Sensitive skin is no match for all the hazards of the great outdoors. Between sun exposure, chlorine, insects, extreme temperatures, and certain plants or chemicals on the plans, the opportunities for developing painful rashes, bug bites, sun or windburn, and just plain dry, itchy skin are everywhere. In addition to using thick cream to keep skin as moisturized as possible, guarding against the elements can help a lot. Have your child wear sunscreen and a hat in the sun. Rinse them off immediately after swimming in chlorinated water. Use bug repellant and have them wear long pants, long sleeves, and socks & shoes whenever possible. This is sometimes easier said than done, especially in the 90+ degree Florida heat, but ultimately the fewer allergens you can expose them to, the better off they will be.
While there is no surefire way to prevent or cure all skin sensitivities, managing the symptoms and limiting the causes can definitely help your little one live a little easier.
This post was underwritten by Dr. Smith’s. All opinions are mine. Dr. Smith’s is the the go-to diaper rash ointment for moms-in-the-know. It helps your child’s skin go from rash to fast relief, and can help treat and prevent even them most severe diaper rash, often overnight. Dr. Smith’s was developed by a pediatrician and includes a fast-acting, premium blend of ingredients. It goes on like a cream but protects like an ointment, giving your child’s skin the best of both worlds.
* * *
Do any of your children suffer from sensitive skin? Do you have any tips to share?