Caring For A Child’s Skin.

Dr Bolanle Aderehinwo

I saw a child somewhere last month in a clinic, a 6month old with so many boils all over her and I mean almost everywhere, on her head, arms, hands and chest. The mother said she has been like that from 3 months old and that the boils are recurrent.

She had used all forms of antibiotics yet without solution. With so much empathy, I told her to stop all the antibiotics and let’s focus on how she cares for the baby’s skin. I was able to explore the following area in the skin care evaluation.

  1. Feeding 
  2. Body cream
  3. Powder
  4. Bathe Soap
  5. Clothing

After a few minutes, we were able to come up with helpful tips on the child’s skin care. Few weeks down the line, she brought the child to the same clinic and I was surprised to see a healthy looking glowing skin.

Yet, another child whose mother complained of constant itching on both legs with wounds and fluid draining from them, again, we only reviewed the skin care and we got solutions.

Why is skin care important in children?

They are fast growing, their body cells are rapidly dividing including the skin cells. Children are more active and play so much, rubbing skin on surfaces and bringing skin in contact with supposedly allergenic substances.

Allergens are those things that can stimulate reactions on the skin or even in the body system. Children also frequently come in contact more often with irritants, that irritate the skin and cause one thing or the other.

How do we generally care for the skin of these little ones? 

In Caring for the skin generally, there are principles.

First is Nutrition. Many people feel skin needs more outside care, forgetting that the skin like every other organ in the body has its own blood supply and gets nutrients from the blood.

This means that what we eat shows on our skin! Hence we cannot separate proper nutrition from skin care and it means that vital nutrients are needed for the health of a child’s skin. Good nutrition, food with high quality nutrients and of adequate quantity is advised.

Secondly, we must understand that every disease has its own skin manifestation, Hence in skin care we can not separate disease prevention. So like we care for other body organs and prevent them from harm by preventing diseases, we are also indirectly watching out for the skin. Hence you also care for a child’s skin by preventing the child from getting sick.

Other points to note in child’s skin care include:

  1. Introduce new food gradually during weaning and avoid any food allergy you noted in the child. Any food that seems your child reacts to should be replaced with a substitute. 
  1. Anti oxidants like fruits and vegetables are very important. They mop up dangerous chemicals in the body, deliberately plan these with your child’s diet.
  1. Adequate intake of water. Rehydration helps the skin very much, water intake will be very helpful to keep the skin moist and prevent unnecessary dryness. 
  1. Prevention of diseases; this is to expanciate on the second principle above. Adequate personal and environmental cleanliness and good hand washing practices. Teach your child how to wash hands properly. 
  1. Appropriate vaccination according to age. Many parents stop vaccination at the NPI (National program on immunization) level, but efforts are needed on the part of the child’s carer to get even those vaccines that are not free as we now know that caring for the skin is like caring for the whole body. 
  1. A daily bath is essential for children’s skin. This we do daily but we must reaffirm that it’s part of skin care, bathing removes possible allergens and irritants that were stuck to the skin.
  1.  Use of moisturizers.These are creams that leave moisture on the skin. This moisture protects skin from excessive dryness. It is better to choose a moisturizer as cream for children.
  1. Use of sunscreen at several times during the day is also good, to shield them from the sun.
  1. Use of hypoallergenic bathing soaps. These are bathing soap with pH closer to that of the skin, soaps without any chemicals that can damage the skin. Soaps that are in themselves moisturizers. A gentle bathing soap. These soaps maintain the pH of the skin and help the skin to maintain its normal bacteria (normal flora) balance as they prevent the colonization or growing of dangerous bacteria. 
  2. Avoid the use of medicated and antiseptic soaps too often, either directly on skin or added to water. These medicated soaps and antiseptic soaps are better prescribed by a Pediatric dermatologist before usage. There are usually reasons for their usage. We should avoid them as much as possible in children so as to preserve the normal floral on the skin. We preserve the normal microbiomes on the skin then we preserve the skin from unnecessary irritation and rashes.
  3. Avoid sharing your child’s personal wear with other children or adults. Towels are personal, they should not be shared, Clothes should be personal too.
  4. When outside, in camps, at a picnic, in the evening, It is good to wear them long sleeve wears, to cover the arms, forearms and long trousers to cover the legs up to the ankle and socks for their feet. These are to prevent insect bites. It is possible to have skin irritations and manifestation from insect bites. Dermatitis and cellulitis can result from bites. So we should make sure their skin is covered to the minimum exposure especially when outside the house.
  5. Use of tiles in the home is preferable to the use of carpet (popularly known as rug). This carpet harbors house dust mites that can cause intense itching in children leading to Dermatitis and weeping rashes. When you leave the house for a long time, especially a house with carpet, you must clean well with a vacuum cleaner before bringing a child in. If you must use carpet (rug) you should clean regularly with a vacuum cleaner, but it is better avoided.
  6. Don’t give a child any medication without appropriate guidance from a skilled physician. Some medications can stimulate or make worse a skin condition.
  7. If you notice anything on your child’s skin that’s strange and of concern, then you must see your Pediatrician.

what are the things to avoid in child’s skin care

Avoid the following content in soaps and creams. 

  1. Fragrance 
  2. Parabens
  3. Formaldehyde 
  4. Propylene glycol

Check the content of soaps and creams before buying, they can lead to hives, Dermatitis, allergies and other skin eruptions.

 In conclusion, At the foremost of skin care is the intake of good, balanced and adequate diet, antioxidants (fruits and vegetables) followed by adequate external care of the skin with good moisturizer and hypoallergenic soaps. All these can be applied to adult skin care too to a large extent.

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