Recognizing Sensitivities in Children

Recognizing Sensitivities in Children

Children can have a wide variety of different types of sensitivities. In fact, it’s difficult to list them all. They include sensitivity to foods, sensitivity to medicines (like penicillin or aspirin) and sensitivity to different chemicals in common household products. Moreover, each type of sensitivity requires a completely different set of protocols to cope with the issue.

Sensitivities are not always obvious and they are often sensitivities are mistaken for quirky behavior or recalcitrance. For instance, if a child is gluten intolerant, a parent might simply assume that their child is a fussy eater or that their skin rashes, tiredness, or abdominal pain are due to some other cause.

However, while many types of sensitivity can be managed with proper medical care and avoiding the foods, medications, substances, etc. that create an adverse reaction, the most difficult to cope with is hypersensitivity.


If your child is hypersensitive, they are extremely sensitive to one of their senses. They are likely to complain about and overreact to stimuli like sight, sound, smells, and touch. What seems minor to other children is a major issue for them.

Hypersensitivity to Touch

One form of hypersensitivity that baffles parents is what to do with touch sensitivity. While it is possible to alter the environment to mitigate things like bright lights, loud noises, and strong smells, it’s difficult to know what to do if a pediatrician diagnoses your child as being hypersensitive to touch.

Here are some 3 ways to help your child if they are hypersensitive to touch:

1. Clothing

One way to reduce irritation from clothing is to use natural fabrics like cotton knits and another is to purchase seamless products that don’t wrinkle up. Socks and underwear tend to pinch and irritate should the fabric bunch up. Above all, avoid any clothes that feel rough to you as it will be even worse for your child.

2. Bathing.

One obvious solution is to reduce the frequency of baths to bathing every alternate day. This gives your child’s skin a better chance of recovering from their previous bath which stripped off their skins natural oils and left their skin dry. Of course, this is not a hard-and-fast rule as kids may get dirty and sweaty on some of their designated non-bath days. So consider this a rule-of-thumb rather than an ongoing policy. When bathing, you can reduce how quickly their skin

dries by using lukewarm water rather than hot water and avoiding harsh and scented soaps. In addition, a mild soap can be made even milder by mixing in some oatmeal.

3. Moisturizing.

Dry skin is the primary cause of distress, and the best way to keep skin moisturized is through the use of thick creams. The best creams are hypoallergenic creams that are often sold as rash ointments. This works much better than a regular moisturizer because it is thicker and unscented. It is most effective to use after a bath as wet skin makes it easier to absorb.

Hypersensitivity vs. Sensory Processing Disorder

The symptoms of hypersensitivity and sensory processing disorder can be similar. With sensory processing disorder, your child’s brain struggles to integrate information coming in through any of their senses. This disorder is often called a sensory integration dysfunction and it is not recognized as a medical diagnosis by itself but seen as part of a more complex medical condition.

If a child overreacts to loud noises or other people’s strong emotions, this could be a sign of either hypersensitivity or sensory processing disorder. These sources of distresses can cause a child to avoid playing with other children or dislike being touched.

It is often difficult to tell the difference without a comprehensive medical assessment. If your child has hypersensitivity, then the best way to manage it is to mitigate the stimuli that cause distress and if your child has sensory processing disorder than a brain balancing program will be much more effective rather than simply making environmental adjustments.

Other Sensitivities

If you suspect your child has sensitivity to something, the first course of action should be a complete medical assessment. This will make it much easier to decide what course of action to take to help your child cope with the sensitivity.

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