Teaching healthy habits early on is a no-brainer. But while most parents focus on teaching diet and exercise, a lot of us tend to forget about skincare, assuming that young children’s skin is just like adult skin.
Dermatologist and board-certified Fellow of the American Academy of Aesthetic Dermatology, Dr. Jean Tan MD, states, “Children are usually regarded as small adults, but in reality they are not; they have different needs and concerns when it comes to skin health. The skin of young children and babies is thinner as it is not yet fully developed compared to adult skin. Thus, they are more easily irritated and are more susceptible to skin damage and infection. For this reason, it is important for parents to understand not only how to recognize and treat skin problems, but also how to look after their child’s skin to prevent them from occurring in the first place.” Here are 5 lessons to teach your children about taking care of the largest organ in the body:
1. The sun is our friend. There’s nothing worse than teaching your child that the sun is bad, as nothing can be farther from the truth. Humans absolutely need moderate sunlight exposure. Benefits are numerous, the most important of which is the production of Vitamin D, an extremely powerful essential nutrient that is key to maintaining overall health. Vitamin D deficiency is on the rise worldwide, and is linked to increasing rates of bone disease, and even cancer.
But keep in mind that moderation is key. Dr. Tan points out that sunburn is one of the most preventable skin conditions that kids face. “Young skin has a thinner outer layer which allows ultraviolet (UV) rays to penetrate more easily. As much as possible, avoid sun exposure between 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, when damaging rays are at their strongest.”
As a general rule, about 15-20 minutes of direct sunlight in the morning is good enough, but if the skin starts to tingle and redden before that, then it’s time to go back inside.
During the school year, encourage your kids to take advantage of recess to get some sun. If possible, eat breakfast with them outside. Also, have them pick out fun sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats and tote them along when you go out. If you choose to use sunscreen, why not search the web for DIY sunscreen recipes? If you’re short on time, find as natural a product as possible.
Try Indigo Baby’s Sun Is Shining Baby Sunblock, Legaspi Market.
2. You can keep your entire body clean just by washing your hands. And by “clean”, we really mean disease-free. Proper washing technique is important, and while many moms are encouraged to get creative, a good guide is to have them wash their hands for as long as it takes to (fluently) recite the ABC’s- about 30 seconds. Use warm water if possible, and don’t be stingy on soap. Rubbing is important, so scrub away, and get under those fingernails while you’re at it!
Try Cyleina Organic’s Tomato Soap, Watson’s Drug Store.
While it’s (fairly) easy to teach children how to wash their hands, the real trick to effective disease prevention is in teaching them when to wash their hands. Before and after they eat is a good starting point, but remind them to do the same after they cover their mouth to cough or sneeze, after they use the bathroom, and after they come inside the house from the mall or playtime with friends (especially if they’ve been playing in the dirt). Most importantly, teach them not to touch their face, as infections can get inside the body when contaminated hands go inside the mouth, the nose, the eyes, and even ears.