From babies to teens, kids are susceptible to a variety of skin conditions. Natural skin treatments can heal and soothe everything from diaper rash to acne.
Skin conditions occur in people of all ages but are especially common in children, even as early as infancy. Whether it is a skin rash, warts, or even acne, there are natural approaches to help resolve your child’s complaint.
Diaper rash or diaper dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin covered by a diaper and is a common issue in infants and children. It can be mild, a few red spots in a small area, or extensive with red bumps that extend to your child’s tummy or thighs.
Diaper rash can be caused by prolonged exposure to moisture, urine, or feces, which are irritants to the skin; rubbing or chafing of the skin against the diaper itself; candida (yeast) or bacterial infection; and even food sensitivities.
Although diaper rash can look alarming, there are natural ways to treat it. Consider reactions to certain foods or formula if your baby’s rash is not responding to treatment.
Change diaper frequently. Let baby’s skin air out for as long as possible in between changings.
Avoid commercial wipes. Clean baby with water and cloth wipes, as commercial baby wipes can contain alcohol, chemicals, and perfumes that can dry out and irritate baby’s skin.
Use natural detergent. If using cloth diapers, try switching to a natural detergent and do a double rinse to prevent any residue buildup that can cause skin irritation.
Apply natural diaper cremes. These are very good at creating a barrier on baby’s skin to protect it from moisture and irritants in the diaper. Look for natural cremes containing zinc oxide, calendula, or aloe, which have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects.
One study also found that the combination of honey, olive oil, and beeswax applied topically to be effective at resolving diaper rash as well as treating candida infection due to their antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Common in children, warts are growths on the skin caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). The virus can affect any area of the body, but tends to invade warm, moist places, such as cuts or scratches on the fingers, hands, and soles of the feet (plantar warts). Warts can be flesh coloured, white, or brown; are usually rough to the touch; and can contain black dots, which are small, clotted blood vessels.
Although skin warts can spontaneously disappear within a couple of years, they can cause discomfort, especially if located on the soles of your child’s feet or another part of the body that gets bumped or touched frequently.
As a preventive, ensure your child wears slippers in locker rooms, public showers, and swimming pools to help prevent plantar warts. There are a few natural treatments that address the root cause of skin warts.
Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) is widely used for skin infections due to its antimicrobial properties against viruses, bacteria, and fungi. When applied topically, tea tree oil has been effective at reducing the size and presence of common warts and decreasing recurrence rates.
Propolis is a resinous mixture that bees collect from the buds of trees and flowers, which they use to sterilize their hives and seal them from invaders. When taken orally, bee propolis has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects that enhance the effectiveness of the immune system to fight against viral strains that cause common warts.
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a common skin condition in children in which the skin becomes red, dry, and itchy and can result in small fluid-filled bumps that become moist and ooze. Typical areas of occurrence include the forehead, cheeks, arms, and legs in infants and the creases or insides of the elbows, knees, and ankles in older children.
Many factors have been associated with eczema, including food allergies, and elimination of allergenic foods can lead to a marked improvement of eczema. Food allergies can be confirmed with oral food challenges or skin prick tests.
Probiotics are healthy bacteria that are normally found in the gastrointestinal tract. They have many positive effects such as reducing the growth of potentially harmful bacteria as well as strengthening both the immune system and the mucosal barrier in the digestive tract that protects against microbial invasions.
Studies have found that babies with a low diversity of intestinal bacteria early in life have an increased risk of developing allergic diseases such as eczema later on and that supplementing with probiotics can help reduce this risk.
A common viral infection in children, molluscum contagiosum causes a skin rash that looks like raised pinkish-white or flesh-coloured growths that tend to be soft and smooth with a possible indented centre. They are commonly found on the face, eyelids, neck, underarms, and thighs.
The infection is usually spread through direct skin-to-skin contact and also by touching objects that are contaminated by the virus, such as toys, bedding, clothing, and towels.
Molluscum contagiosum growths can go away on their own, typically within two to three months. However, new growths usually appear just as the old ones are disappearing, so it can take up to 18 months for molluscum contagiosum to completely resolve.
Homeopathy may be effective at treating molluscum contagiosum. Natrum sulphuricum, Natrum muriaticum, and Sulphur are some homeopathic remedies that can help resolve molluscum contagiosum; however, it is essential to find the homeopathic remedy whose description most closely matches your child’s overall symptom picture.
Tea tree oil applied topically twice a day can be very effective at reducing the number of growths on the skin, especially if combined with iodine. Both tea tree oil and iodine have antimicrobial properties and, when combined, can penetrate deeper into the superficial layers of the skin, making it a safe and effective topical treatment for molluscum contagiosum. Iodine can be found in liquid form in health food stores and can be added in drops to the tea tree oil.
Because acne is caused by several factors, including blood sugar dysregulation issues, hormonal imbalances, food sensitivities, and imbalances of the intestinal microflora, addressing the root cause of acne is very important.
Diet is often a good place to start in the treatment of acne. Several studies have found that diets high in dairy products as well as high glycemic index foods are associated with an increase in the risk for and severity of acne.
Glycemic index (GI) indicates how quickly foods are broken down and released as sugar into the bloodstream. The higher the GI, the faster blood sugar levels rise, leading to imbalances. Limiting dairy, eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables, as well as consuming low-GI foods to keep blood sugar levels stable can all help reduce the occurrence of acne.
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and fish oils, are known to help reduce inflammation. Since acne is an inflammatory process, omega-3s have been associated with an improvement of overall acne severity.
Helpful supplements for skin health
Some supplements can be helpful in preventing skin conditions and in strengthening your child’s immune system:
Omega-3 fatty acids
Many skin conditions are inflammatory by nature. Omega-3s, especially eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), target anti-inflammatory pathways that decrease inflammation in the skin.
Vitamin D is not only critical for bone health in growing children, but also important for maintaining a healthy immune system to fight against viruses, bacteria, or fungi that can cause common childhood skin conditions.
Probiotics help to replenish healthy bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, where a large component of our immune system exists. Some probiotic strains may be helpful in warding off childhood skin conditions such as eczema.