How To Take Care of Your Child’s Skin in the Summer Heat

Sun and heat can be terrible for exacerbating skin conditions, and creating new ones like heat rash.  Taking care of your skin in summer is essential, even more so for young children's delicate skin.   Skin health promotes overall health, after all, skin is the largest organ in the human body.  Here are some tips on how to care for your children's skin this summer.


Sunscreen

We've been told for years that sunscreen is essential whenever we are outside, but more recent research suggests that preventing the sun on our skin completely and some of the potentially toxic chemicals may even increase your risk of cancer.  Ironically, moderate sun exposure may actually prevent the development of certain types of cancer.

One of the concerns is that certain chemicals in sunscreens produce free radicals, and the formation of free radicals is strongly implicated in cancer.  Free radicals cause cellular damage, and cancer is, essentially, the proliferation of damaged cells.  The chemicals in question are Titanium Oxide, Oxybenzone, Parabens and fragrances.

Thankfully, the sunscreen industry is moving away from including some of these chemicals in their sunscreens, but do check the ingredients before you buy.

If the potential toxicity of sunscreen concerns you, look for natural, mineral sunscreens that contain little more than zinc oxide for your family.  There are organic sunscreens available that are biodegradable and do not contain synthetic materials.  Try non-toxic brands such as Badger, Green People, Lovea or Babo.  You can find more suggestions here.

Apply sunscreen daily when they will be in the sun, and plan activities in the shade or indoors during the sun's strongest hours (10am-3pm).  A UV suit will be even more effective than sunscreen at the beach or outdoor pool.


Clothing

Some sources note that human beings have been living and working out under the sun for millennia, and suggest the rise in skin cancer cases is due to the use of sunscreens rather than increased exposure to ultraviolet light.  Regardless of your views on sun exposure, if you want to protect yourself from excessive sunlight, there are things you can do that do not involve chemicals.

Wear loose, light-colored, cotton clothing that covers exposed skin while still keeping you cool.  Loose cotton clothes are not only more comfortable; they are an effective barrier against skin damage from sun, insects, and poisonous foliage.  Cotton allows air to circulate around the skin, helping to prevent heat rash as well.

Carry a small umbrella or parasol to shield delicate skin from the sun, and encourage children to always wear a hat from the youngest age. For swimming at the beach with the kids you can make use of swimsuits and wetsuits with UV protection.


Moisturise

Moisturise the skin with coconut oil or another light moisturiser every evening.  Summer heat and wind can dry out skin so it's a good idea to moisturise your children's skin after their evening bath with a high-quality, kid-friendly moisturiser or oil.

Keeping skin clean will help to prevent heat rash, and also wash off any potential irritants such as plants or chlorine from their busy day.  Make sure children shower or bathe after swimming to wash the chlorine off.


Insects

Encourage children to not be afraid of insects like wasps and bees, but to treat them with respect.  Calmly walking away is better than panicking and thrashiswimng about.

Prevent insects by burning citronella candles* outside, eating lots of garlic, using coconut oil on your skin, and dabbing peppermint or lemon eucalyptus oil on your pulse points (use a carrier oil).  Burning these oils in a diffuser* will also keep insects at bay, as will growing pots of rosemary or bay on or near your outdoor table and chairs.

If children do get stung or bitten make sure you have suitable treatments ready in your first aid kit. 

For natural treatments, use vinegar, lemon juice or crushed garlic on a wasp sting; and a thick baking soda paste on a bee sting.  Applying cucumber slices will help to cool and ease the stinging too, as will applying an ice pack to reduce the swelling.

* Of course, you should always supervise children around candles or other open flames.


Hopefully, these tips will minimize the damage to your kids' skin this summer.


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