Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

Font Size

Protect Your Child’s Skin From Irritants

By Elizabeth Shimer Bowers
WebMD Feature

To kids, home is a safe haven where they play with toys and cuddle with their pets. Unfortunately, in addition to the things they cherish most, many children share their homes with skin irritants that can make them less than comfortable.

“Children are sensitive little creatures; they have thinner skin than adults, and their immune systems aren’t completely developed, so they aren’t as well-equipped to deal with the irritants in their environments,” says Francesca Fusco, MD, dermatologist in private practice in New York City.”

Some of the skin irritants she refers to lurk in the products you least expect; ironically, in the very things you use to make your home clean and inviting. The culprits may include air fresheners, bubble bath, soaps, deodorants, fabric softeners, carpet deodorizers, and many other household products.

Here are some household products that are particularly likely to cause skin problems such as itching, redness, or other skin irritation in sensitive children.

Laundry detergents and fabric softeners: “The perfumes and additives in laundry products may cause skin problems,” Dr. Fusco says. “Fabric softener is very allergenic and can cause eczema, which appears as dry, itchy skin,” she says. As an alternative, she suggests using fragrance-free laundry products. Or add a studded laundry ball to the dryer when laundering little ones’ clothes. “It contains no chemicals; the action of it banging around the dryer softens clothing,” she says. Fusco says that adding a little vinegar to the final rinse is another mild alternative to fabric softener.

Fragranced products: Scented soaps, lotions, and shampoos smell nice, but they contain substances that can cause children’s skin allergies and other skin irritations. “Fragrance usually comes from a mix of chemicals added to products,” says Sarah L. Stein, MD, pediatric dermatologist at Comer Children’s Hospital at University of Chicago. Stein recommends using fragrance-free alternatives and being wary of "unscented" imposters. Sometimes manufacturers add ingredients to products to mask the scent. Products are labeled "unscented," but fragrance still lurks. Look for labels that specify “fragrance-free” or “hypoallergenic.”

Harsh soaps: Bar soaps that children use on their bodies and faces and antimicrobial hand soap can adversely affect the skin. “The detergents in these soaps are abrasive and lead to irritated, itchy skin,” says Fusco. The sudsier a soap, the more likely it is to lead to children’s skin problems, according to Fusco. Stick with suds-free or low-sudsing soaps. When in doubt, ask your dermatologist for suggestions.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

Pictures and symptoms of the red, scaly rash.
woman with dyed dark hair
What it says about your health.
woman with cleaning products
Top causes of the itch that rashes.
atopic dermatitus
Identify and treat common skin problems.
itchy skin
shingles rash on skin
woman with skin tag
Woman washing face
woman washing her hair in sink
close up of womans bare neck
woman with face cream