We often marvel at the softness and smoothness of children’s skin. It is like a blank canvas not yet inscribed by the stuff of life: sun exposure, ageing, scarring and oxidative damage. This reflects in large part the freshness also of their internal bodies, and we want to keep them that way! The skin isn’t a complete barrier, it is a semi-porous membrane, stuff can get in and so we want anything that does go in to be good stuff. When looking after children’s skin, it is especially important to remember the rule: If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin.
Part of growing up in our physical world is the inevitability of cuts and grazes, bites and bumps. Children, running around with wild abandon, are more prone to these incidents than most grown-ups. Thankfully, children heal quickly, but they can heal more quickly with the right support. Research shows that extracts of Chamomile and Calendula, used in Kiwiherb Baby Balm for example, can improve the speed at which skin repairs itself when broken or cut. Comfrey extracts have been shown in trials to reduce pain and improve mobility of sprained and strained joints. Having these ointments and balms on hand in the first aid kit is a great idea for anyone with kids around! Whether it’s grazing from a fall off a skateboard or bruises from soccer, herbal balms and ointments can provide great relief.
Some children also have more chronic skin complaints such as eczema or dermatitis. Again, herbal skincare can be incredibly beneficial for reducing irritation and speeding tissue repair. As well as the herbs outlined above, New Zealand native plants Kawakawa and Poroporo, used in DermaCare Cream, shine when it comes to more chronic skin complaints. Both of these prized herbs help to reduce irritation and inflammation, both hallmarks of eczema, and also help to prevent infections which can colonise the vulnerable patches of eczema on the skin. Burdock is a herb specific for not only promoting healing, but also reducing the itch which can drive kids crazy and reduce the ability of the lesions to heal.
Children are also not immune to fungal infections of the nails and toes. Manuka Oil is a safe and effective solution for addressing athlete’s foot. It can also be utilised as part of a strategy to address bacterial infection or used as an antiseptic to prevent infection of cuts and grazes.
When choosing a topical (on top of the skin) product for your child, don’t just look at the active ingredients or extracts, but look also at what the other ingredients are. Utilising natural oils such as coconut, olive and sunflower not only ensures the treatments are safe (and ‘edible’), but its increases the therapeutic value of the product as these oils have their own intrinsic healing properties.