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Children’s skincare products – what to look out for

Ingredients in children’s skincare, particularly those purchased over the internet from outside of Australia, can be suspect. Over-the-counter products in Australia must abide by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) guidelines, however, and prove any claims made. This means they are considered safe to use, particularly if the product is geared towards children.

The skin isn’t very absorbent
The key thing to remember is that products you put onto the skin aren’t readily absorbed into deeper layers, particularly preservatives or other additives. This is even more true when the application is a smothering (like nappy cream), not actually being rubbed in vigorously. Sunscreen, for example, is considered very safe despite being rubbed into the skin. Babies have very sensitive skin, so use as few products as possible as a general rule.

Products considered safe to use

Products to avoid

  • Anything that bubbles when wet – these strip healthy oils from skin, drying it out (despite being lots of fun!)
  • Anything with fragrance – fragrance is typically made chemically, not naturally, and can be irritating to both the nose and skin

What about organic or herbal products?
There is a misconception that ‘natural’ means ‘safe’. Herbal medicines can be incredibly powerful, and are in fact the molecular basis of what we know as drugs. This means they can have interactions with other ingredients, cause rashes and reactions, and be unsafe for some people to use.

It also depends what you are trying to treat – there are many ways to treat skin conditions besides western medicine, with many being very effective. If you want to go down the herbal route, get proper advice from a trained herbalist or naturopath who specialises in children, and be prescribed high-quality, therapeutic-dose herbal medicines, including personalised creams.

Buying ‘herbal’ creams from a shop is not likely to be of a great deal of value in treating skin conditions at home because good herbal medicines cost money, and it’s unsafe to put large amounts into over-the-counter creams for the public. These organic, herbal lotions and creams can be lovely to use and contain organic, plant-based ingredients for everyday skin care.

Where to go for advice
Your family doctor may have a good working knowledge of skincare and be a useful resource. If you want specialist advice for your child’s skin, a dermatologist provides the most up-to-date information and treatments, particularly for specialist skin conditions that are not responding to typical treatments.

Got a child with a skin condition?
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