Skin Care for Kids

Laura Mitchell's picture
By Laura Mitchell on July 20, 2020

For most kids, skin care can be summed up with two S’s: sunscreen and soap. And according to Susan Gaylor, master aesthetician with Carilion Clinic Dermatology and Mohs Surgery, applying sunscreen should be included in kids’ regular daily routines.

"Protecting your skin from the sun’s ultraviolet [UV] rays should be a lifelong goal," she said. "Starting the habit from childhood will make applying sunscreen as natural as brushing their teeth and washing their hands."

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children, including babies 6 months and older, use a sunscreen every day that has SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15 and protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Infants younger than 6 months should avoid sun exposure but can use minimal amounts of sunscreen if exposure is unavoidable.

Limit sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and be sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or sweating. And remember that snow reflects UV rays as much as water and sand do, resulting in sunburn more quickly.

It's also a good idea for kids to wear a hat with a brim and neck-shade and, if possible, long sleeves and pants.

Most children need little more than a mild soap to wash their hands and bathe. Have them lather up their entire hands, including between fingers and under nails, before rinsing well.

Thorough hand washing is more important now than ever, to protect against exposure to COVID-19.

During baths or showers, kids should use water that’s warm but not hot.

In addition to sunscreen and soap, it’s a good idea to keep moisturizers on hand. Most sunscreens double as moisturizers, and that’s usually enough for healthy skin. During winter, or for kids who are prone to dry skin, a simple, fragrance-free moisturizer is all that’s needed.

Children with chronically dry skin or conditions such as eczema or atopic dermatitis, or who have an allergic reaction to skin-care products, should be treated by their pediatrician or dermatologist.

As puberty sets in, use moisturizers that are labeled as noncomedogenic because they won’t contribute to pimples. See Skin Care for Teens for more.

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