The skin is the body’s largest organ and is susceptible to many different problems if you do not care for it properly. Taking good care of your children’s skin can help prevent some skin issues and alert you to potential concerns in a timely manner so that you can notify your child’s doctor. Teaching your children to take care of their skin by practicing good habits when they are young can help them develop healthy hygiene practices to carry into their teen years and beyond.
Help young children wash their hands before eating and after using the bathroom. Lather soap over your child’s hands with warm water and remember to rub under their nails.
Use gentle soaps to wash your child’s body. Choose products that are free of fragrances and dyes, as these ingredients can dry out or irritate young children’s sensitive skin.
Rub soap into a soft washcloth when bathing a baby and move from the head down, paying close attention to your baby’s face, behind his ears and in between his skin folds.
Wash young infants a few times a week and check their groin area, face and folds for dirt or oil. Babies do not need baths every day or every other day until they begin crawling around and eating solid foods, explain Laura A. Jana, M.D., and Jennifer Shu, M.D.
Apply a moisturizing, unscented lotion to your child’s skin if it gets dry, scaly or itchy. Gently massage the lotion into her body and do not apply lotion to infants’ hands since they tend to put them in their mouths.
Monitor your baby’s thighs, bottom and genitals for signs of diaper rash. Powder your baby when changing his diaper to soak up excess moisture and apply a diaper rash cream as needed.
Cover your child’s skin with sunscreen that has a sun protection factor of 30 or higher before taking him outside, even on cloudy days to prevent sunburn, recommends the American Academy of Dermatology.
Cover cuts, scrapes and other open sores with a sterile bandage or gauze to prevent bacteria and dirt from getting into the wound, which could lead to infection. Apply antibiotic cream to promote healing and change the bandage at least once a day until the wound heals completely.
Talk to your child’s doctor about any concerns you have about her skin. While rashes, dryness and other minor skin problems are common from time to time, a doctor should evaluate chronic skin issues to check for an underlying illness or medical condition.