|This photo has nothing to do with this post, but it's too cute not to share. This was L's favorite "hiding spot".|
Ethiopian skin evolved, from Lucy on down, in a low humidity, sunny, mild climate. Ethiopia's tourist bureau is filled with posters advertising their "13 Months of Sunshine!", and it's pretty much true. The temperature ranges from 50 to 80 degrees all year.
So, my children's African skin finds our North American climate, with its wild swings in temperature and humidity (not to mention air conditioning and central heating) very very harsh! They are both prone to heat rash, dry skin, and sunburn. (Yes, sunburn. Brown skin gets darker in the sun, just like white skin.) Lily has had some terrible episodes of diaper rash.
Here a few things I've learned about keeping their skin healthy:
1. They need moisturizers every time they have a bath or shower. We always bathe after swimming, as salt and chlorine are very harsh and drying. Cerave is the best moisturizer we've found. It's not greasy, but it coats and protects their skin beautifully.
2. We cover up in the sun. Rash guards for beach days or sprinkler time were a must. Daniel is actually allergic to sunscreen, so we simply stay covered up or in the shade on sunny days. (Thanks to the wonderful "Orphan Doctor", Dr. Jane Aronson, for diagnosing this. Sunscreen, even "sensitive skin" types give him a red, itchy rash.)
3. We use a thick paste-like diaper cream for Lily, every time. Diaper rash can be a huge issue for children in orphanages or care centers. Ointments and creams that we take for granted will be in every corner store here can be hard to optain in Africa. When we went to Addis Ababa the first time, we took an entire suitcase full of creams and ointments for the care center! We are very lucky that Lily was rash free when she came home, but it can flair up overnight.
4. Aquaphor or some other thick moisture cream goes on their hands, knees and elbows, and a little on their faces, especially in winter.
5. Finally, we rub coconut oil into their hair and scalp about once a week. This oil is wonderful in that it keeps their hair and skin healthy (and smells delicious!).