Having a child with itchy skin can be intensely distressing for you as a parent and your little one, particularly if they’re very young and can’t tell you, or it’s very visible.
Children and their skin is a huge passion to us; Abi’s own eczema prone skin is the very reason Margaret, her mother and our co-founder began exploring natural skincare formulations.
Children’s skin can be sensitive and reactive to lots of things though, so before you start testing remedies, here’s our ‘at a glance’ guide to why your child’s skin might be so itchy, and what exactly you can try to soothe their discomfort.
- Check your laundry:
Washing powders, fabric conditioners and scent pellets can all leave residue during washing on the surface of your child’s clothing that can damage their skin.
The first step is to switch to a non-biological washing powder. Biological washing powders contain enzymes that break down dirt and grease – this makes them effective but especially if you wash at a low temperature, can be harmful.
Non-bio detergents don’t contain these enzymes, making them generally kinder to sensitive skin.
Fabric conditioners and scent pellets are especially damaging, as they’re deliberately designed to leave residue.
We advise switching to adding a capful of white vinegar to your laundry and just a couple of drops of essential oils (no more than that though) which has the same softening effect, leaving a fresh scent but no residue.
- Do they have a rash?
Childhood conditions like chicken pox (which look like blisters until they pop and scab) can cause intense itching. Nappy rash, heat rash and insect bites can also cause rashes and itchy welts on the skin.
Our advice is firstly to check with a pharmacist or doctor which condition is causing your child’s itching.
The second is to avoid pharmaceutical itching creams which can contain large amounts of ingredients that make the problem worse. This is one area where natural really is best.
- A simple bath in warm, not hot water with a cotton sock filled with oats is super soothing for the itching
- Avoid ice, which encourages the blood to warm up and makes the itching worse
- Try a soothing baby skin balm, to provide a barrier and relieve the scratching a little
- Is it an allergy?
As many as one in three children experience some sort of skin reactivity. Common culprits are food, including:
- Lactose intolerance
- Citrus Fruits
- Common Preservatives
Your child can also be allergic (meaning have a serious reaction requiring medical intervention) or intolerant (meaning to experience discomfort) that can lead to itching and rash to anything in the environment so check the area for things like:
- Air fresheners and chemicals
- Animal contact
Testing and treatments approved by a doctor or pharmacist like antihistamines can help with allergy based itchy skin, and soothing repair creams with natural ingredients like aloe vera, chamomile, calendula and rosemary can offer instant relief from
4. Eczema and Skin Conditions
Many children can suffer with intermittent or constant conditions like Eczema, Rosacea and Psoriasis.
In this case using the previously mentioned balms and certified organic skincare makes a world of difference to the results for your baby or little one.
Also consider if their clothing fabrics are natural enough. Children with irritated skins often find natural cottons and linens far more comfortable against their skin than polyester. Bedlinen also needs to be light and natural.
- Cradle Cap and Itchy Scalp
Children up to the age of three can experience cradle cap and any age child can have dandruff and irritated scalps.
Medicated shampoos are rarely the answer as they often contain ingredients which strip the scalp of natural oils, which over time exacerbates the problem. Don’t try to pull out flakes either as you can damage the delicate skin of your baby’s head.
You can coat their hair in a natural olive oil, then very gently using a natural hairbrush brush out the shedding.
We also recommend using a super-gentle detergent free shampoo. Look for one with a balanced PH and no sulfates or SlS (chemical detergent ingredients that cut through grease but are very aggressive on sensitive skins).
Finally, look at any areas of stress or anxiety for your child. Whilst this doesn’t necessarily cause itching, it can make it worse. Make time for meditation, mindfulness and relaxation to help your child overcome their worries.
“We love this shampoo. After doing a lot of research on baby products, we found this one had the least nasties and was the gentlest (much better than all the other ‘baby’ and ‘organic’ things we checked out, which tend to still have a lot of things to be wary of). It smells very light and is extremely mild, we’ve never had tears from the suds, and no irritation of our son’s eczema. It’s expensive but one bottle lasts ages, a little goes a long way. Our son is almost 3 and we have used since he was about 2 mos old, with no intention of changing. Highly recommended” Odylique Customer