Dr. Joel Schlessinger shares back to school tips

Returning to school is an exciting chance to start over and enjoy new opportunities. With September upon us, your children are probably just settling into a routine and re-learning to balance homework, activities and friends.

Along with all the excitement, though, comes a packed schedule and significant exposure to germs. With so much to do, it can be easy to let hygiene practices fall by the wayside. As a parent, it’s important to let your children know that the key to being healthy, happy and productive this school year is to take great care of themselves and their belongings. Share the following tips with your children to help them have their best year yet.

Apply Sunscreen Before Spending Time Outdoors

Teaching your children proper sun safety habits will set them up for a lifetime of healthy skin. Apply sunscreen to all exposed areas at least 15 minutes before leaving the house each morning, rain or shine. It’s also important to be consistent with weekend outings, sports practices and playdates. Teach your child how to apply sunscreen so that they understand how to get a full, even application and be sure they know when to reapply. We like EltaMD UV Sport Water-Resistant Broad Spectrum SPF 50, a formula that is great for wearing while active outdoors since it doesn’t run and won’t string if it should get in eyes.

Skin may begin burning and sustaining damage in as little as 10 minutes of intense sun exposure, which may mean your child will need to reapply during the school day for outdoor gym classes, recesses and field trips. You’ll want to store an extra sunscreen in your child’s school bag and sports bag just in case.

Find out your school’s rules about sunscreen, says Dr. Joel Schlessinger.

It’s important to note that sunscreen has been banned in some school districts across the United States because it is considered a drug. While sunscreen is not dangerous, school officials have expressed concerns over eye irritation and potential allergic reactions for students. Check with your child’s school about their sunscreen policy. Some may require a doctor’s note. If sunscreen is banned from your child’s school completely, no exceptions, you’ll want to contact administration about a change in policy or even consider exploring other districts. Two or more blistering sunburns sustained during childhood can increase the risk of skin cancer up to ten times later in life, so this is not an issue to be taken lightly.

Wash Your Face Twice a Day

Acne can be embarrassing for adolescents and leave them feeling socially isolated. Severe types of acne, such as cystic acne, can even leave behind permanent scarring that is next to impossible to completely eliminate down the road. It’s best to seek treatment for acne early, when your children are just beginning to experience breakouts. Your dermatologist should be able to prescribe an appropriate acne regimen and help teach your children how to use the products. Those adolescents who struggle with acne should be sure to avoid milk and other dairy products, as these can worsen breakouts.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger recommends a mild facial cleanser twice daily for children.

Even if your child has not experienced his or her first pimple, it’s best to encourage them to wash their face twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening. Once they’ve reached nine or ten, breakouts could be just around the corner. A mild cleanser, like LovelySkin LUXE Clarifying Gel Cleanser, can help heal and prevent breakouts. It contains 2% salicylic acid and 2% glycolic acid to gently exfoliate skin and remove impurities.

Refrain from Sharing Personal Items

Sharing personal items can lead to the spread of viruses, bacteria and fungus and result in serious illness. Even refraining from sharing items like school supplies can cut down on the spread of germs, but there are certain items that shouldn’t be shared under any circumstances. These include clothing items such as hats, coats and shoes, lip balms, deodorants, nail clippers, towels, toothbrushes, makeup and earphones. Sharing drinking glasses, straws and eating utensils should also be avoided.

Encourage regular hand washing, especially after using the restroom and before eating each meal. Remind children to keep pencils, toys and drinking fountain bubblers away from their mouths.


Laundry hygiene is a big part of stopping the spread of germs, as well as various skin irritations. Items that come into close contact with the body are most likely to carry bacteria. Change towels and washcloths daily if possible, and launder bedding at least once a week. This will help cut down on acne and other skin infections. Be sure your child wears cleans clothes each day, and don’t forget about gym and sports uniforms. Lockers often have poor ventilation and can be breeding grounds for mold and mildew. Teach your child to hang his or her coat and gym clothes, and be sure these items are switched out and washed often.

Do you have a question about hygiene? Let us know in the comments section.

Posted Friday, September 11th, 2015 at 3:08 pm
Filed Under Category: Uncategorized
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