Children with EDS and other connective tissue disorders often have sensitive skin. Knowing the best ways to care for their skin can prevent a lot of discomfort and even injury. These kids often develop scars more easily, and injured skin is more vulnerable in general to another injury down the road. As an OT and massage therapist, I am always mindful of skin issues, but I don’t see a lot of helpful suggestions for parents online, or even useful comments from physicians. I want to change that today.
- Use lotions and sunscreens. They act as barriers to skin irritation, as long as the ingredients are well-tolerated. Thicker creams and ointments stay on longer. Reapplication is key. It is not “one-and-done” for children with connective tissue disorders. Some children need more natural ingredients, but you may find sensitivities to plant-based ingredients too. Natural substances can be irritants as well. After all, some plants secrete substances to deter being eaten or attacked!
- Preventing scrapes and bruises is always a good idea, but kids will be kids. Expect that your child will fall and scrape a knee or an elbow. Have a plan and a tool kit. I have found that arnica cream works for bruises and bumps, even though it’s effectiveness hasn’t been scientifically proven to everyone. Bandages should not be wrapped fully around fingers, and a larger bandage that has some stretch will spread the force of the adhesive over a larger area, reducing the pressure. DO NOT stretch their skin while putting on a bandage. And remove bandages carefully. You may even want to use lotion or oil to loosen the adhesive, then wash the area gently to remove any slippery mess.
- If your child reacts to an ingredient in a new cream or lotion but you aren’t sure which one, don’t toss the bottle right away. You may find that your child reacts to the next lotion in the same manner, and you need to compare ingredient lists to help identify the problem.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Skin needs water to be healthy, and even more water to heal. Buy a fun sport bottle, healthy drinks that your child likes, and offer them frequently.
- Clothing choice matters. Think about the effect of tight belts, waistbands, even wristbands on skin. Anything that pulls on skin should be thought out carefully. This includes shoe straps and buckles. Scratchy clothing isn’t comfortable, but it can be directly irritating on skin. That irritation plus pulling on the skin (shearing) sets a child up for injury.
- Teach gentle bathing and drying habits. Patting, not rubbing the skin, and the use of baby washcloths can create less irritation on skin. Good-bye to loofahs and exfoliation lotions, even if they look like fun. Older girls like to explore and experiment, but these aren’t great choices for them. Children that know how to care for their skin issues will grow up being confident, not fearful. Give your child that gift today!
Looking for more information on caring for your child with connective tissue disorders? Check out Hypermobile Child? Simple Dental Moves That Make a Real Difference in Your Child’s Health and Teach Kids With EDS and Low Tone: Don’t Hold It In!
Does your child have toileting issues related to hypermobility? Read about my book that can help you make progress today: The Practical Guide to Toilet Training Your Child With Low Muscle Tone: Potty Training Help Has Arrived!