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5 Tips for Healing Your Child’s Sensitive Skin

Healing Sensitive Skin | Great Skin Tips | Skin Care Remedies for Kids | Skin Allergies and Sensitivity | Chidren Skin Problems

Sensitive.

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.

Healing Sensitive Skin | Great Skin Tips | Skin Care Remedies for Kids | Skin Allergies and Sensitivity | Chidren Skin Problems

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:

Healing Sensitive Skin | Great Skin Tips | Skin Care Remedies for Kids | Skin Allergies and Sensitivity | Chidren Skin Problems

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.

Healing Sensitive Skin | Great Skin Tips | Skin Care Remedies for Kids | Skin Allergies and Sensitivity | Chidren Skin Problems

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.

Healing Sensitive Skin | Great Skin Tips | Skin Care Remedies for Kids | Skin Allergies and Sensitivity | Chidren Skin Problems

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.  Healing Sensitive Skin | Great Skin Tips | Skin Care Remedies for Kids | Skin Allergies and Sensitivity | Chidren Skin ProblemsAll 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.

Dr. Smith’s is available nationwide at Walgreens, or online at Amazon.com.  You can currently get a $2.00 off coupon on the Dr. Smith’s Facebook Page, as well at Coupons.com

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Do any of your children suffer from sensitive skin?  Do you have any tips to share?

31 Comments

  1. Holly
    August 16 at 10:15AM

    Both my kids have terrible allergies and super sensitive skin! I never realized it was such a common ailment in blond kids. Thanks for the tips. I can’t wait to try out that cream!

    • Ruth Soukup
      August 17 at 06:34AM

      You’re welcome Holly!

  2. Janice
    August 16 at 10:34AM

    Trouble is so cute! I just love that scrunchy smile. 🙂

    • Ruth Soukup
      August 17 at 06:34AM

      Thanks Janice! I love it too! 🙂

  3. Caroline
    August 16 at 11:51AM

    All my kids have super sensitive skin until about 8 ….
    I use dermatological oil for sensitive skin and dry skin from URIAGE for bath : It’s magic 😉

    • Ruth Soukup
      August 17 at 06:34AM

      Thanks for the tip Caroline! I’m hoping she grows out of it too!

  4. Karen
    August 16 at 12:31PM

    Oh wow ~ that first paragraph! Sounds like you are talking about my youngest. Public restrooms are the worst ~ I carry post-it notes to cover the auto-flush toilet sensors. That’s the first thing she checks out in the stall is if it is an automatic flusher. I will have to check out that cream. My daughter’s skin is not that sensitive, but we do get extremely dry patches in winter.

    • Ruth Soukup
      August 17 at 06:33AM

      Oh my goodness Karen, I need to start carrying post-it notes! That is the first thing my daughter checks too and if it is an automatic flusher she will refuse to go. Thanks so much for the tip!

  5. Maria
    August 16 at 03:13PM

    Sounds like your beautiful girl may have a hypersensitive sensory system as well??? I work with kids all the time who have hypersensitivity to motion, sounds, and touch in Occupational therapy. Just a thought. Great tips tho!

    • Ruth Soukup
      August 17 at 06:31AM

      I’ve wondered about that too Maria, since she is just so sensitive to everything! Thanks for your thoughts!

      • SMiaVS
        October 16 at 02:27PM

        I was going to say the same thing. I have a mild version of Sensory Processing Disorder, as well as very sensitive (I was helping the bus driver pass out those push-up popsicle things once, and just leaving them leaning against one arm for a few minutes left big red welts from the cold) skin, and the two do NOT go well together. Your little girl sounds like she has some of the same issues, and speaking from experience, I cannot recommend highly enough that you at least get her tested to rule out any sensory problems. Apparently intervention while a child is still young is the best–no surprise there, that’s the case for most things–and believe me, while I’ve learned some coping mechanisms on my own–it’s enough to drive a person crazy. (We’re currently dealing with bedbugs–so gross; how’s that for people who thing traveling is glamorous–and that combined with my sensory issues is making my life a nightmare.) If she needs any outside help at all, it’s best to get it now, while she’s young. Good luck to you both. 🙂

  6. Cindy
    August 16 at 11:09PM

    My granddaughter had trouble with skin sensitivity until we realized she had a wheat intolerance. As long as she is careful what she eats it does not bother her as much now.

    • Ruth Soukup
      August 17 at 06:28AM

      That is something we have never considered! How did you find our she had a wheat intolerance?

      • Cindy
        August 17 at 11:03AM

        Her parents took her to the pediatrician and she suggested taking the child off wheat, milk and eggs. It was difficult but she adjusted. Now that she is older she can have limited amounts in her diet, but she still reacts sometimes. There is also some wheat intolerance on one side of the family. There is a test that you can do for celiac disease. My suggestion would be to talk with your pediatrican before you do anything and then try lowering her exposure to wheat.

    • Jamie
      September 15 at 06:14PM

      I second this idea. I’ve had sensitive skin, eczema, urticaria and dry skin since childhood. Age 24; I wanted to get healthy so I slowly overhauled my food/fuel choices. I removed wheat (later all grains), dairy and later meat. I upped fresh fruits and vegetables, green smoothies, juicing and salads and I am a different person! (Lost a ton of weight!) I’m not free of flaws and still get itchy every now and then but at this rate I should be clear within a few months. Staying hydrated has been the ticket. I know this is older but I thought I would relate. Also, I love your blog.

      • Mel
        September 11 at 03:09PM

        My little one has a wheat allergy. I went gluten free when he was four months. He is still nursing now at 13 months and we still struggle with his, what I perceive to be, extremely sensitive skin. I use heavy oils like A and D to moisturize his skin as well as cerave lotion. It has worked but I also have to re-apply at least two times before bed. It is trying to keep up with the regimen. He had really bad eczema which diminished when I removed wheat from my diet. He recently got tested for food allergies and it turns out he is allergic to wheat, eggs and peanuts! Ahhh! Learning to work around the food allergies and his sensitive skin has been overwhelming. It’s nice to know that there is support and recommended regimens to help mitigate his reactions. I have found that food allergies as well as environmental triggers have been a huge factor. I am working to balance a healthy indoor, outdoor lifestyle and keep my little bean free of skin irritations, rashes and eczema flare ups.

  7. August 17 at 10:12AM

    I use goat milk and oatmeal soap for my son. I buy it at a farmers market and it works really well for skin sensitivity.

  8. Rebecca
    August 17 at 12:13PM

    My daughter has eczema which makes her skin EXTREMELY sensitive! Our pediatrician told us early on that cleansers, creams, detergents, etc. with the fewest ingredients were generally the best. I have found that to be true for her. We use Kiss My Face olive oil soap and Kiss My Face Whenevever Shampoo and Conditioner. Both have worked really well for her. Also, we found that fragrance free detergents were not enough because they still contain extremely harsh chemicals, just no fragrance. We recently found The Honest Company founded by the actress Jessica Alba and we are very pleased with all of their products. They contain very few ingredients, all natural and many organic. I was skeptical about how well they would work but we love them. So far we have tried the Laundry pods, Oxy Boost, Dish Detergent, Hand Soap, Dryer Cloths, Lotion, Diapers and Wipes (which are actually the best diapers I have EVER used) and the Dishwasher pods. They are all great. If you or any of your readers would like to check them out, here is the link: http://honest.com/accept_invitation/241154

    You can buy the products individually or sign up for the auto-ship bundles. We do the bundles and have been very pleased. The products cost the same for us as they do at the grocery store and they are delivered monthly. You can also adjust the ship dates to suit your family’s needs. I really cannot say enough good things about their products and how they have helped my daughter’s skin (and helped my family eliminate their exposure to so many chemicals)!

  9. Linda G
    August 18 at 01:07PM

    Would you please share the name of the bug repellant you use? I’m always afraid to use them on sensitive skin, thinking they will be irritating. Thanks so much!

    • Ruth Soukup
      August 18 at 07:45PM

      We haven’t really had a problem with that and I’ve used all kinds–whatever we have on hand. (Usually OFF! I think) Our problem is usually that we put it on after the bugs are already biting instead of beforehand! 🙂

  10. August 19 at 09:45PM

    Just as a supportive note on skin: I am 68 and have super-dry skin that was never a problem as a young person. Not only that, it seems that now my skin is sensitive to all sorts of things that I ever gave a thought to. First off, my podiatrist highly recommends cream over lotions for skin. I never thought about it really but lotions have more water in them and don’t protect the skin as long as a cream. I am really glad to know about Dr. Smith’s cream and will definitely invest in it. Both hubby and I are sensitive to scented “stuff” such as laundry detergent, dryer sheets, etc. I find that scented deodorants bother me too and it is SO difficult to find unscented deodorants! Why is that? I have to spend at least 15 minutes studying all the labels on the deodorant products to locate even one brand that comes in unscented! Lastly, in the last 10 or so years, I am now allergic to (sensitive?) to adhesives such as plastic tape used in hospitals, bandages and even paper tape if I leave it on too long. Since my skin is thin and I am taking a blood-thinner, it doesn’t take much of a bump to cause bleeding, particularly on my hands and arms. If I leave a bandage on too long, a rash develops and/or it goes so “stuck” that it takes baby oil, or something similar, to get it off without further tearing my skin. My heart goes out to those little ones with sensitive skin. I am sure it’ll be a life-long battle for them.

  11. Valerie
    August 22 at 05:08PM

    You just described my son! I have noticed that when he is NOT eating certain things, it is so much better. I suggest keeping a food journal for a week or so and see if there are any patterns. I know it sounds strange but it may help. For example, when I took eggs out of his diet, tags on his clothes stopped bothering him. And a wheat/gluten sensitivity has been linked with eczema. I have also switched to dye/perfume free detergents and that has helped. Except dish soap. I can’t get a handle on that one. But I will try out that company mentioned by Rebecca. Thanks for an informative post!

  12. Malisa
    August 30 at 05:13AM

    Consider using soapnuts. You can buy them online through websites that sell natural products. We used to use unscented laundry detergent, but soapnuts are even more gentle. You can google to find out more about how to use them. You can also make a liquid soap out of soapnuts and use it to wash other things including your dishes, or even has a personal liquid soap/ hair or body shampoo.

    • Ruth Soukup
      August 31 at 08:30AM

      That is a great tip! Thanks!

  13. Malisa
    August 30 at 06:39AM

    I forgot to mention that the Environmental Working Group is a great resource for doing research on what is in the products you purchase. Needless to say, it’s especially important for kids (whose bodies may not be able to handle chemicals the way adults can) to use products with nontoxic ingredients. They have ratings which can help you decide which products may be better for your family. Check out their consumer guides which include recommendations for products like bug repellants: http://www.ewg.org/consumer-guides
    For personal care products (lotions, shampoo, lip balm, etc) they have a database that you can look up to find out which products are safe or a safer alternative for your family: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

  14. Jenna
    October 2 at 03:09PM

    I had really sensitive skin like that when I was little. A run-in with the wrong type of hand soap would send me to the doctor for a prescription to deal with the rash it caused. A mosquito bite would swell to the size of a quarter and blister. It was definitely not fun! I used to carry a travel-sized bottle of clear, unscented hand soap in my purse to use in public restrooms and at other people’s houses. I also would make sure to wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts when I spent the night at someone’s house so that my skin wasn’t touching the sheets that were washed in a different detergent/fabric softener.

  15. May 28 at 07:31AM

    Thanks for the idea! sounds interesting 🙂 At least now I’ll know what to do with my skin that don’t look good enough. Thanks!

  16. May 4 at 07:23PM

    My facial skin has been tricky to care for since high school. It tends to be oily but if I fail to apply a moisturizer (either I ran out or I just forget) for a day or two and it will quickly dry up, leaving unsightly white patches on my face. Given that, it’s been quite complicated to get the right product. It had to be strong enough to fight the oil but gentle enough to not cause it to dry up. I’ve always craved for some kind of balance. I sought skincare products that had simple ingredients (that I could recognize much less pronounce). I chose all natural, organic brands that promised nourishing my skin without harsh chemicals. Some of the worked but were mostly broke the bank. Too expensive to maintain. Then I reached a point where I started to make my own. I googled recipes for herbal remedies and concoctions using ingredients from my own kitchen. Blah, blah, blah, there came Matcha Skin (www.matchaskin.com). I have always been in love with green tea and when I stumbled upon an article on Matcha, I was hooked. It’s like green tea on steroids. I love its absolutely potent anti-oxidant qualities and how it balances my skin. It fights the oil but never dries up my skin. Though it’s super natural, it’s not as expensive as the other more popular (but not so effective) brands. Because of its price, I didn’t hesitate to give it a try and I am so thankful I did. I have found it. No more trial and error looking for the perfect skincare line that works for me.

  17. February 20 at 08:42AM

    This design is spectacular! You obviously know how to keep a reader amused.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Fantastic job.
    I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
    Too cool!

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