School Year Conversations for Skincare Success
The first weeks surrounding the start of a new school year are a whirlwind of activity and preparation. There are supplies to buy, clubs to join, meetings and orientations to attend, and piles of papers to sign. Sports and academic calendars get added to the family calendar, and schedules fill the fridge.
In the midst of all this, it’s easy to see how healthcare conversations may get lost in the shuffle. Once the dust settles down, however, it’s a good time to fix that. Talking frankly with your kids (or their teachers) about the skin challenges they may face in the coming year will help avoid flares and irritations in the coming months.
Middle schoolers and teens
This is a good time to remind older kids about the importance of their regular skincare regimen. If there were any changes to their medications or ointments based on a pre-school physical or sports exam, ask them if they have any questions about the new protocol. If any of these medications need to be applied at school – after sports, for example – make sure they have the required authorizations to carry their medications with them on campus.
This is also a good time to have a heart-to-heart about self-esteem. If your child lives with severe eczema, they may feel embarrassed by their skin. They may even be bullied for it. Acknowledge this reality, and encourage your child to talk to you about their feelings. Let them know they’re amazing, regardless of the state of their skin.
The start of the school year is a time of major change for elementary school kids. Each year is different from the last: new classes, new teachers, new areas of the school, new friends. This makes it an ideal time to begin to teach children to take responsibility for their skin.
Create a simple skincare regimen for your child to follow, and talk to them about the importance of following it to prevent a flare. This may be something as simple as covering their skin in a specific ointment after showering. The point is to use the time of year to help build a healthy habit that will last throughout their lives.
Preschool and daycare updates
At this age, there aren’t many back-to-school talks you need to have with your children. (As long as you’re discussing healthy skin hygiene basics like no scratching or picking.) They’re simply too little to be expected to listen, remember, and follow-through on your instructions. Instead, you’ll be updating your child’s teacher or caregiver on your child’s condition.
Helpful things to discuss
- Environmental triggers:Triggers that should be avoided or that may cause flares. Some daycares and preschools, for example, keep animals in the room or on campus. Others play regularly in hay or sand. Many also use hand soaps, bug sprays, sunscreens, or lotions that may aggravate your child’s skin. (Tip: If this is the case, consider sending eczema-friendly products to school with your child.)
- Medications or treatments: If treatments or medications need to be taken or applied at school this will be important to discuss. Ask if you need to include a doctor’s prescription for the medication, and make sure you include detail instructions for dosing and use.
- Emotional and/or behavioral consequences. Some children may be embarrassed or self-conscious about their skin, especially if the dermatitis is not yet well controlled. Others may be unable to nap easily if their skin itches or hurts. Notifying your child’s care provider of these issues in advance can help reduce negative consequences and ensure the teacher is practicing empathy for your child.
What about you? Do you have any school-year chats you have or routines you follow with your children or their teachers? What about when you were young? Did anything help set you up at the beginning of the year for skincare success?
How often do you downplay your eczema to other people?