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Helping children prevent stress and stress related skin conditions

With children as young as six experiencing stress in school because of exams or academic failure, it’s time to be mindful about young people’s mental health. Here, we help you understand how to recognise stress symptons in your child, establish a healthy routine to combat anxiety and deal with stress-related conditions.

What is stress?

Being stressed is the feeling of being under too much pressure, mentally or emotionally. It’s sometimes difficult to articulate what ‘feeling stressed’ is like, especially if a child has never experienced it before. Determining how much pressure is too much from the outside is difficult too.

We’re all different; what might be a motivational situation for some children, may be highly stressful to others. Recognising symptoms of stress in your child is the first step to maintaining their wellbeing.

The symptoms of stress include:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Headaches
  • Bedwetting
  • Nightmares
  • Upset stomach or stomach pain
  • Low self-esteem
  • Aggravation of pre-existing skin conditions

 The importance of a healthy routine

Taken in isolation, it’s possible to overlook some of the symptoms or confuse them for something else. Teaching your child a healthy routine will help them deal with increasing demands as they go through school, and will decrease the likelihood of them becoming stressed.

Eating properly

Comfort foods high in fat, or sugary drinks containing caffeine, can make children feel tired and less able to deal with anxiety. The best solution is to give your child a high-fibre, low-fat and carbohydrate-rich diet which includes lots of fruit and vegetables. These types of food give them a boost without sapping their energy.

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Getting enough sleep

A good night’s sleep can lower stress, while it is also important in helping the brain function, and impacts its ability to store information and help us learn.

A regular sleep routine is easily said, however, it can be challenging if your child is anxious about what’s happening at school.

Limiting the use of phones or tablets before bed time will help them switch off. Blue light, such as the light from a smartphone screen, can suppress production of melatonin, leading to decreased drowsiness or restful sleep. Equally, stimulating activities on a phone, such as games or chat, are counter-productive to sleep preparation.

Fresh air and exercise can also help them nod off quicker when bedtime arrives.

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Regular exercise

Exercising releases endorphins in the brain and improves their mental well-being. Exercising is particularly important during high periods of stress such as exam time. In addition to sports lessons during school time, encouraging children to get involved in extra-curricular activities, such as learning to swim or joining a Saturday football team, is also a great way to complement their learning and help them unwind.

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Stress related skin conditions

Anxiety can aggravate pre-existing skin conditions such as eczema, acne, dandruff and psoriasis. In these cases, the condition can create more stress for your child so finding successful treatments to ease their discomfort is paramount in maintaining a healthy wellbeing.


Eczema affects people of all ages but is primarily seen in children, with one in five being affected [1]. Stress is known to trigger flare ups so keeping tension under control is key. Equally, it’s not always easy to sleep when your skin is itchy, or to participate in sports because sweat also aggravates the condition. Clothing your child in loose fitting, cotton items may help to keep them cool and minimise any irritation they may have experienced from other fabrics.

Is there anything that can help?

When looking for moisturisers to soothe dry skin, look for creams that contain chamomile for its anti-inflammatory effects, lavender for its anti-bacterial and balancing properties, or rose, for softening and re-hydrating the skin.

Some bath and body oils are suitable for dry, itchy skin. Encourage your child to take regular baths using a single capful of nourishing Purepotions Skin Salvation Bath and Body Oil, or ensure they apply it to damp skin following a shower to deeply moisturise the skin.


Acne occurs when the skin’s pores get blocked with bacteria, dead skin or oil, and can be common in teenagers. Stress or anxiety can lead to the production of more oil than usual which clogs the pores and causes acne breakouts.

Is there anything that can help?

Acne is most common on the face, back and chest, forming spots that are often painful to touch. Washing the affected areas, no more than twice a day, with mild soap, cleanser or lukewarm water will control it, but not clear the acne completely.

Bathing in Deep Sea Bath Salts, rich in potassium, magnesium and bromides, can help the skin, leaving it feeling much softer and smoother. Dissolve the salts in warm bath water with a recommended soak-time of 20 minutes. This will help control the acne breakout and help your child to relax.


Stress doesn’t cause dandruff, but people under increased levels of stress or dealing with anxiety have an impaired immune system which causes dandruff to flare up.

Is there anything that can help?

Targeted dandruff shampoos and conditioners clean and protect the hair and scalp, moisturising and protecting both while stimulating the fibres. Using paraben- and SLS-free products like Jason Dandruff Relief Shampoo, for instance, can help to stop dandruff. This type of hair product can help control scalp dermatitis and mild psoriasis, which can occur during periods of increased stress and anxiety.

If you think your child may be experiencing any symptoms of stress, it is important to seek advice from your GP to support your child.

National Eczema Society

Related Topics

Children's Skincare