We here the phrase a lot don’t we, the importance of feeling comfortable in our own skin. This can mean very different things to people though. It can mean feeling comfortable within yourself and how you look, it can mean being comfortable with your size and shape and so on – for some people though, this can literally relate to the comfort or discomfort that they get from their skin.
Skin conditions can be upsetting, debilitating, frustrating, embarrassing and generally pretty awful to deal with sometimes. Some skin conditions affect people for their entire lives, some discover treatments and some just naturally grow out of them.
For children dealing with skin conditions there can be overwhelming feelings of embarrassment (especially school age children), frustration (why is my skin like this?) and discomfort on a daily basis.
How can we support children dealing with skin conditions?
Do your research
As a parent of children who have suffered with skin conditions I can’t emphasise enough the importance of doing your research. Once you have established what the skin condition is, having spoken to a professional, it is your responsibility to continue to research the condition.
Read a mixture of academic papers, books and real-life experiences of others with the condition. Research the products you are using and their ingredients and so on. You will quickly become an expert in your own child’s skin, and you will be educating them along the way too.
Do seek professional advice when you need it, go with a list of questions, so you can hopefully get the answers you need. There is lots of information online of course, but sometimes you really do need someone to look at your child.
When skin conditions flair up, they can often look quite different to normal. For example, our experience of eczema is that during a flair up skin becomes very spotty and rash like and can often resemble a number of childhood illnesses.
TIP: Take photos when it is at it’s worse so you remember next time!
In line with the research you do you can begin to cautiously experiment with products to help control and improve the skin condition. Getting children involved in this boosts self esteem and gives them more control over their condition.
Talk about what you are trying and why. A few years ago, after a conversation with a very experienced pharmacist I introduced probiotics into the children’s diets. The pharmacist suggested trying these for 3 months and monitoring the skin. It made a huge difference, so we continued with this.
With skin conditions, what works for one person doesn’t always work for another, so being prepared to try different things is really important.
Talk about their concerns
Talking to children about how they feel about their skin can help them to feel more positive. Getting them to engage in taking responsibility for applying cream, drinking more water and so on can help them feel more in control of their condition.
Let them share how they feel about the products you are using and what they feel works and what doesn’t.
Skin conditions are not cured overnight. It’s likely they will flare up and then stabilise multiple times over. This is normal. Try to chart what you think the triggers are. For example, I know that with my teenager, emotional upset and stress causes eczema to flare up, with one of my younger children, changes in temperature and hydration have a huge impact.
Perseverance is key. With some skin conditions they can look worse before they look better, but you need to give everything time. It’s no good using a product for two days and claiming it doesn’t work.
Encourage them to discuss their condition with others
Talking about their skin condition can help children feel much more positive about it. If someone asks my children “what is wrong” with their skin, they explain that they suffer with eczema. Since they’ve adopted this approach they have discovered lots of their friends either suffer themselves, or have a family member who does.
Being open and honest keeps the dialogue open and reduces any stigma.
This post has been written as an entry for the Epaderm blogger 2021 competition