From the time they’re born, we’re charged with protecting our children’s skin. We make sure to use only the most gentle cleansers and lotions. We take pains to buy the softest clothing. We slather them with sunscreen every time we even think about leaving the house. Then, as they start to grow up and learn to take care of themselves, we need to stop doing the cleaning for them and teach them how to care for their skin on their own. Here are some tips to help you do that:
Every child goes through a phase where he or she hates getting his or her face wet. This is true whether we’re talking about swimming, playing in sprinklers, having water fights and even during bathing time. The problem is that dirt is not going to be respectful of your kids’ wishes and that dirt? Needs to be removed. To encourage even the most stubborn child to wash her face, the best thing to do is to teach her how to wash without having to actually put her face in the water. Show her how to get a washcloth wet and use that to moisten her face before she cleanses it.
It’s also a good idea, when they are still young and in this stage, to teach them how to cleanse around their eyes so that you don’t have to worry about them accidentally rubbing soap into their eyes when they get excited about being able to get clean without dousing their faces with water.
When they get over this phase, make face washing part of the regular bathing routine instead of a separate event that accompanies brushing the teeth. When it happens during bath time it becomes more ingrained. Then, when they’re older and switch to morning bathing, they’ll be so concerned about their skincare anyway that they’ll likely keep up the nightly cleansing on their own without prompting from you.
Hands off the face! Acne, in spite of what you might have read, is not caused by eating oily or fatty foods. It is mostly caused by hormones and by dirt and debris getting into a person’s pores. How does that dirt and debris get there? Sometimes it is simple environmental absorption. A lot of the time, however, it is by your own hands! Every time you touch your face, rest your face in your hands, etc, you are transferring oils and whatever your hands have touched that day into the pores on your face!
Make “hands off the face” a house rule along the same lines of “don’t bite your nails,” “don’t pick at scabs,” etc. You might not be able to totally prevent face touching, but you should be able to reduce it!
Skin Tags, Warts, etc.
Sometimes our skin just decides to spontaneously grow extra stuff. It is inconvenient but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world...though it will seem that way to your kids. A lot of these problems can and should be resolved naturally. For example, instead of just letting a skin tag hang linger, try using skin tag removal products to reduce the tag’s size and help it heal. With warts, instead of using ice or burning them off yourself, use an over the counter wart remover.
Obviously, if the problems are severe, you should take your son or daughter to the dermatologist to have the situation evaluated and the skin issue removed professionally. The same is true for acne.
Kids do not like the feeling of sunscreen. This is a universal trait. The thickness of the sunscreen, combined with it’s strong smell can cause even the most mild tempered child to resort to a tantrum to avoid having it applied to his or her skin. To combat this, try using one of the sport sprays (make sure it is safe for young skin). Sprays feel better on the skin and offer more even coverage. Whatever you do, though, don’t skip it! If you skip the sunscreen now, you’ll have a harder time convincing them to keep up with it when they are older.
Once your kids are old enough to handle washing their own faces, they are old enough to start learning how to apply their own sunscreen. Make them start doing it themselves so they get into the habit of reaching for the bottle on their own.
Remember too, that with most kids, it is positive reinforcement that wins the day. Scaring them with pictures of skin that hasn’t been properly cared for won’t go very far. Praising them for caring about their skin’s health will have more of a lasting effect.