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Author Topic: Does your child have sensitive skin?  (Read 7197 times)

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Offline Mei Marcie

De-Coding Skin Care Products: How to Choose Wisely for Your Child

Choosing an appropriate skin care product for your child, especially when your child has sensitive skin, can be a huge drain on your finances. Trial and error may not be the best way because cross-reactivity between ingredients of different brands can be an issue.

I have a child with severe eczema, which started at the unusually young age of two weeks old! Before settling on the products she’s using now, my cabinet was stocked full of different brands – different things seemed to work at different times. Besides the expense, it’s also very stressful trying to decipher which product works best (along with trying to figure out what the trigger was for the latest eczema flare-up.)

Here’s a quick guide on how to choose skin care products for your child’s sensitive skin:

Common Marketing Terms and what they mean

Hypoallergenic – This is a term that means less likely to cause an allergic reaction but don’t bank on it. Use of the term “hypoallergenic” is not regulated. This means that companies can market their product as “hypoallergenic” without meeting certain standards or running clinical trials to prove it. Companies do have to provide the list of ingredients though. If you’re not a chemist, the names of the ingredients may be difficult to understand but there are some common allergens to avoid, such as fragrances, preservatives and parabens.

Natural – This is another unregulated term. “Natural” does not necessarily mean less allergenic. A natural ingredient still has to be processed (to fit into the bottle or tube!) and the processing can introduce allergens.

Organic – Mention your child has eczema or sensitive skin and people will ask if you use organic products. The good news is “organic” is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA.) "Organic" means that the ingredients used are grown without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or genetically modified products.
Additional information: USDA National Organic Program - Consumer Information

Noncomedogenic – This means less likely to clog pores. For acne-prone skin, this is an important term to look out for.

Suitable for infants – This term is not regulated and it's up to individual companies to define what they mean by "suitable for infants."

Top Three Allergens

As you can see from the information above, it’s difficult to decide on your baby’s products based on the product marketing terms. Reading and understanding the ingredients is key.

Perfume/Fragrance – This is really the number one allergen to avoid. I used perfumed olive oil on my child’s cradle cap and she got really itchy and scratched until she bled.

Preservatives/Parabens – Parabens are preservatives. Formaldehyde is sometimes used as a preservative and it is highly toxic. Even buying new furniture that contains formaldehyde has been shown to make a child ill. Formaldehyde also triggers eczema and asthma, and it has been linked to cancer.
Additional information: Parabens, Formaldehyde

Propylene Glycol, Lanolin and Colorant/Dyes – Dyes are also common allergens and you may find that many of the more established sensitive skin care products will not contain these ingredients.

Other things to watch out for are paraffin, conventional emulsifiers, mineral oils and sodium lauryl sulphate. These seem to be less likely to cause allergic reactions, but they are still considered to be allergens.
 
Starting Off with a New Skin Care Product

Skin care can be very expensive for a child with sensitive skin. My daughter uses about 500ml of moisturizers per week! Instead of going for the cheapest moisturizers and other skin care products, choose products which exclude the top allergens. You will get better results for your child.

Before using a new product, do a test on a small patch of skin and observe the skin for any reactions for at least 24 hours. For older children, consider visiting a dermatologist for a “patch test[1].” A dermatologist can use the results of the “patch test” to tell you which ingredients your child may be sensitive to.

About Mei Marcie

Mei is passionate about helping families with eczema children because her baby girl has severe eczema. Mei devotes herself to understanding eczema and helping other parents to do the same. She designs children picture books and calendars which are available for free at her blog.

Mei is also active in helping her local community through an eczema support group which is the first of its kind in Singapore. She has also initiated the first eczema assistance fund in Singapore. This fund subsidizes treatment for low income eczema patients.

Visit Mei’s blog, Eczema Blues for information on eczema and real-life tips on managing eczema day to day.



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 1. Patch testing is a way of identifying whether a substance that comes in contact with the skin is causing inflammation of the skin. (Net Doctor)
« Last Edit: September 28, 2013, 11:59:09 AM by Judy »
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Offline VA Mom

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Re: Does your child have sensitive skin?
#1: February 22, 2012, 03:19:32 PM
Very informative!

I did not know that hypoallergenic was unregulated. I had my suspicions about "natural" though...

My child's skin looks OK so far  but I have eczema ...on my face. usually it's invisible because I have it under control but the truth is - it's always waiting to flare up. Anything could set it off.

It sucks having to be so careful.

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Offline Mei Marcie

Thanks for compliment!

Yes, I know the packaging always write as if it means something and people start to look at key terms such as 'hypoallergenic', 'organic', 'natural'. But such terms are not that reliable, it's still best to learn to read the label i.e. ingredients! It's impossible to read it like a pro though as that's a full-time career commitment, but at least knowing the top allergens to avoid will ensure there's some piece of mind for parents.
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Realist

Re: Does your child have sensitive skin?
#3: February 24, 2012, 08:40:43 PM
good article!

i guess the lesson here is ignore the marketing gimmicks & read the labels.

a personal example i can think of is why do certain "moisturizing" shampoos have alcohol as the first three main ingredients!



« Last Edit: February 24, 2012, 09:03:44 PM by Judy »

Offline Mei Marcie

Thanks Realist for your comment! And yes, alcohol does show up in many products and it's important to read the label :)

We shouldn't be too hard on ourselves too, I've spent many days trying to compare and 'read into' the label, it's impossible as it's a full-time profession in itself. Just know the top most allergic ingredients, and work from there. Definitely not to start with the cheapest and also no need to start with the most expensive!

xoxo
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Re: Does your child have sensitive skin?
#5: February 25, 2012, 09:51:45 AM
 Wonderful article.  My lil three yr old granson was just scratching all over and I told my daughter to get him to the Dr next week.  thanks for the great info Yes!
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Offline Melonhead

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Re: Does your child have sensitive skin?
#6: February 25, 2012, 10:54:39 AM
This is wonderful information to have!

I've made a habit of avoiding things with scents and dyes that seem unnecessary, but now I know what else to watch out for. Thank you for this info!
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Offline Mei Marcie

Thanks for your comments! Yes, visiting a doctor is always a good idea but it's better to choose a specialist within a hospital that can run skin prick test or blood IgE test. Pediatricians who are not specialist in certain field may not offer the best advice, as a lot comes with experience and being knowledgeable in the specific area relating to skin/immunology.

Hope eczema leaves everyone alone for the week, at least! xoxo
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Offline VA Mom

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Re: Does your child have sensitive skin?
#8: February 26, 2012, 10:47:33 AM
I can agree with what Mei is saying. My mom took me to a few "family practitioners" (not dermatologists) who made things 100% worse for me with my childhood eczema.
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Offline VirginiaColin

Melaleuca "Renew" skin lotion is the best I have found yet.
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Offline Mei Marcie

Re: Does your child have sensitive skin?
#10: February 28, 2012, 10:13:17 PM
My baby used Physiogel AI and QV. I think what's important is to choose a lotion that doesn't contain the top allergens, try to stick to one brand to prevent cross-reactivity, moisturize frequently and also use chlorhexidine which is an anti-septic of sorts to wipe off staph bacteria. This bacteria prevents the skin from recovering and increases itch.

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I'm aka MarcieMom, mom to Marcie who has eczema from two weeks old. I interview skin, nutrition and parenting experts on my blog to provide resources for eczema families. I illustrated a children eczema book and co-authored an eczema book. I'm also the local national support group chairperson for parent-child group.

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Re: Does your child have sensitive skin?
#11: February 28, 2012, 11:26:48 PM
Melaleuca "Renew" skin lotion is the best I have found yet.

Agreed!

I also use petroleum jelly - believe it or not.
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Offline Judy

Great discussion parents!
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Re: Does your child have sensitive skin?
#13: March 03, 2012, 08:06:33 PM
Interesting! I have eczema. I didn't know all of this. Avoiding gluten helps me. Thanks for the information.
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Re: Does your child have sensitive skin?
#14: March 04, 2012, 01:39:14 PM
Thanks for this information.  We are just going through this with my son who is 5 and has had eczema his whole life.  I just feel so bad for him.  I'm also beginning to explore and try to control some of the things that could be triggers like food (e.g., dairy, wheat), the cold, the dampness, and so on. There are so many envronmental factors we can't control, sometimes I'm at a total loss.  It also seems to come in cycles and the more you try to do to help, the worse it gets.  He can go really long periods with no issues at all.  So, I'm glad I have this article and the replies because it will help in choosing new courses of action.

Thanks!  Renee
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Offline Mei Marcie

Dear Renee,

I can understand how difficult it is managing eczema - I only have one child and really afraid to have another one. We manage everything pretty much on our own and without help, it's very difficult to have another child. Btw, you may like to bring your son to allergy test as it's good to take one every 2-3 years to see how allergy changes.

Take care!
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Re: Does your child have sensitive skin?
#16: March 04, 2012, 08:11:42 PM
Thanks Mei, Yes, I've thought that I should take my little guy in.  He has related problems as well.  For example, he also has had the croup and bronchialitis more times than I can count, and just last year, he had cervical adenitis.  I do believe that these things are all related.  Sigh...it's just so worrisome. 

Glad to have met you here!  :)
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Offline Mei Marcie

Dear Renee,

Hope the eczema can be managed better after the allergy testing!

To everyone viewing, thanks for doing just that - reading this! So happy that so many of you are viewing and learnt from this article, looks like it's the highest views so far! Pls personal message me if you need some help with eczema or simply comment here as I'm still checking regularly!

Take Care!
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Re: Does your child have sensitive skin?
#18: May 01, 2012, 11:37:39 AM
Great article. It is so important to try to treat skin problems naturally. Added chemicals in products can make any condition so much worse.
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Offline Mei Marcie

Identifying what allergens our child is sensitive to is more important than to decide between organic or non-organic :) Vitamin E, a very good antioxidant, is an allergen for some. So always do a patch test to find out, try on selected part of skin first.

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