Do you know what your body’s biggest organ is? It’s not your heart, your lungs, or even your liver – it’s your skin! That’s right, your skin is a living breathing organ, and you are never too young to start a regimen to keep it healthy for years to come.
When I asked my daughter back when she was about 9 or 10 years old, “why do you think you have skin,” she said, “because if you didn’t your insides would fall out!” As cute as that answer is, she was not far from the truth. The main purpose of your skin is to protect your internal organs.
It also is instrumental in regulating body temperature through sweat. And, you could not experience your sense of touch without skin. All in all, skin is pretty amazing stuff, but in order for it to do its job, you have to keep it happy and healthy!
There are many things that can damage healthy skin such as, smoking, extremely dry or cold environments, allergies and infections. But the number one enemy of healthy skin, especially in children, is sun exposure.
The sun’s ultra-violet UVA and UVB rays are damaging even to those with darkly pigmented skin. UVA and UVB rays are the number one cause of skin cancer. Of course, the sun can also cause sunburn, even a mild case of which can be painful and uncomfortable, and cause your child to miss out on summer fun.
Everyone (especially children) exposed to the sun for an extended period of time, needs to wear sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 35. When applying sunscreen be sure you do not miss anywhere. Parents, you need to help your kids get to the hard to reach areas like the back and neck. If you are not using a “sport” or waterproof sunscreen, be sure your child reapplies it after swimming or sweating.
Because no sunscreen can protect your child’s skin completely, dermatologists also recommend wearing a wide-brimmed hat and using a lip balm containing sunscreen. Children with particularly fair skin should consider long sleeves or clothing with built-in SPF protection.
Keep It Clean
Besides minimizing exposure to the sun, the next best thing you can do for your skin is to keep it clean. Despite the aisles of skin care products you see in drugstores and supermarkets, most kids don’t need anything more than a gentle soap to keep their skin clean and healthy. If your child has particularly flaky or dry skin, use a moisturizing soap when they bathe or shower, or apply a fragrance-free moisturizer such as Eucerin, afterwards.
Keep It Safe
Finally, your skin protects you, and you can protect it by trying to keep it safe and free from injuries. But, we all know cuts and scrapes will happen, especially during outdoor activities! When your child does get a minor skin injury, be sure to wash the area with warm water and mild soap.
For non-deep wounds, apply an antibiotic ointment such as bacitracin. This can help kill germs and prevent the cut from becoming infected. Cover cuts with a bandage to help keep them clean. Of course, seek medical attention for any deep cuts or puncture wounds.
These are just a few ways to take better care of the skin you’re in, so it can take better care of you!