Sniff, sniff– What is that strong smell? It might be the added fragrance in your lotion, shampoo, cleaning products or little one’s skincare. As parents, naturally we want the best for our children. That includes caring for their delicate and sensitive skin. Many parents know that they should opt for skincare that is safe and gentle for their kiddos but one commonly overlooked ingredient is a little sneaky– added fragrance! And it could be doing more harm than good to your little one’s skin.
Fragrances are often added to skincare products to provide a pleasant scent, but they can also cause skin irritation, especially in those with sensitive skin, such as children with chronic eczema. Eczema or atopic dermatitis is a skin condition characterized by dry, sensitive, itchy, and inflamed patches of skin that can be triggered by a variety of factors, including added fragrance.
While some fragrance is naturally derived and made from essential oils, many added fragrances are synthetic and lab created. However, even “natural” fragrance can be potentially irritating for sensitive skin. One of the biggest issues with fragrance is that it is a complex mixture of chemicals, and companies are not required to disclose the specific ingredients used to create the scent. This means that it is impossible to know exactly what is in the fragrance and how it could affect your child's skin. In the best case scenario, fragrance could be a mild irritant to sensitive skin. In the worst case, it could actually actively contribute to and flare up your child’s eczema condition.
A study published in the journalPediatrics found that exposure to fragranced baby products, including lotions and shampoos, was associated with a higher risk of eczema in infants and young children. The study also found that exposure to fragrances in the home, such as air fresheners and cleaning products, was linked to an increased risk of eczema in children. This is certainly concerning as a parent and pediatrician.
So what can parents, like you, do to protect their children's skin? The first step is to read labels carefully and avoid products that contain fragrance or "parfum" on the ingredient list. Look for products that are specifically formulated for sensitive skin or that are labeled as fragrance-free.
It is also important to be aware of other potential triggers for chronic eczema, such as certain fabrics, harsh soaps, irritating cleaning products, and extreme temperatures. Keeping your child's skin well-moisturized and avoiding scratching can also go a long way to help prevent flare-ups.
Ultimately, fragrance in skincare products can be a significant trigger for chronic eczema in kids, and it's important for parents to be mindful of the products they use on their children's skin and in their household. By choosing fragrance-free products and being aware of other potential triggers, you can help protect your child's delicate skin and prevent eczema flare-ups.
A few years back, my passion for skincare and love for my patients and kids motivated me to create a nourishing skincare line for little ones. In the process of developing the line, I delved into the science behind several medicinal herbs and plants