Ouch! {5 Tips for Healing Your Child’s Sensitive Skin}

Ouch!  5 Tips for Healing Your Child's Sensitive Skin.  Got a kid who breaks out in frequent rashes or allergic reactions?  These five helpful strategies can help soothe, protect, & prevent further irritation.


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.

sensitive girl

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:

Dr. Smiths ointment.  This stuff is the BEST cream for really sensitive skin!

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.

5 tips for healing your child's sensitive skin--great tips!

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.

5 Tips for Dealing With Your Child's Sensitive Skin--these are so helpful!

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.  Dr SmithsAll 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?

Affiliate links may be used in this post. Printing a coupon or ordering a product through this link may result in a commission, which helps pay for the cost of running this site and keeps the content free. Read my full disclosure policy here.

{ 26 comments… add one }

  • Holly August 16,

    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,

      You’re welcome Holly!

  • Janice August 16,

    Trouble is so cute! I just love that scrunchy smile. :-)

    • Ruth Soukup August 17,

      Thanks Janice! I love it too! :-)

  • Caroline August 16,

    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,

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

  • Karen August 16,

    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,

      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!

  • Maria August 16,

    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,

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

      • SMiaVS October 16,

        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. :)

  • Cindy August 16,

    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,

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

      • Cindy August 17,

        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,

      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.

  • Julie August 17,

    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.

  • Rebecca August 17,

    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)!

  • Linda G August 18,

    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,

      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! :-)

  • Steph August 19,

    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.

  • Valerie August 22,

    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!

  • Malisa August 30,

    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,

      That is a great tip! Thanks!

  • Malisa August 30,

    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/

  • Jenna October 2,

    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.

  • Laura Lehmax May 28,

    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!


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