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Protect Your Child’s Skin From Irritants

From the WebMD Archives


Exotic fruits: Fruit bowls are countertop staples in many households. And although fruit is a great source of fiber and vitamins for growing kids, some can cause skin allergies in children. “For example, mango rinds can cause a rash around the mouth that looks similar to poison ivy. And when citrus fruits land on your skin and the sun then hits the same area, you can get a red, itchy reaction that looks like a stain on the skin,” Fusco says. To prevent reactions, wash all fruit before cutting or eating it, and keep the rinds of acidic, exotic, or citrus fruits away from sensitive skin.

Organic alternatives: A lot of products labeled “natural” or “organic” contain botanicals. “Although they come from plants, botanicals can cause children’s skin allergies and sensitivities,” Stein says. If sensitive skin is an issue, avoid using products that contain botanicals or plant-based substances, which may irritate delicate skin. You’ll also want to be cautious if a label touts “natural fragrance.” This is a mixture that may include irritating botanicals, Stein cautions.

Aerosol irritants: Although they don’t touch your children directly, air fresheners, incense, candles and other products that produce vapors can irritate young skin. “Aerosolized household products are huge triggers for skin reactions in kids,” Stein says. Aerosolized products may include stain removers, furniture polish, and even all-purpose cleaning products. The solution? Minimize your use of these products, particularly when children are around.

Furry friends: Pets can cause children’s skinallergies, sneezing, and itchy eyes, Stein says. The shampoo used to wash your dog or cat could also be to blame. The only sure way to rid your children of pet-related skin reactions is to eliminate the offending animal. If that’s not an option, consider the following:

  • Limit your child’s exposure to the dog or cat.
  • Clean your home often.
  • Bathe your pet at least once a week.
  • If possible, keep the animal outside.

Become a Skin Sleuth

When it comes to household skin irritants, you can only do so much to protect your children. If your child has already developed a reaction -- if he has dry, irritated, itchy skin -- it takes a good detective to pinpoint the exact cause. “Think back to the last few days -- what your child was doing and what he or she was exposed to -- and try to identify the allergen,” Fusco says. And remember: If a reaction is directly related to a product that touches the skin, it will usually appear on the areas that product was applied. If the reaction is more generalized, it may be from a household skin irritant you spray, such as furniture polish or air freshener. Once you’ve identified the offending skin irritant, remove it from your household.