Practical Parenting

Are You Protecting Your Children from Future Deadly Skin Cancers (Pedcast by Doc Smo and Sonya Corina Williams)

Most people have heard of a skin disease called melanoma, a deadly cancer that can affect children and adults alike.   Do you know anything about what triggers this tumor and, more importantly, do you know how to lower your children’s lifetime risk of ever developing this horrible disease? Stay tuned as we discuss all of this in this installment of Portable Practical Pediatrics

Image by Pixabay Continue reading

Car Seats Done Right (Article)

Cars can be dangerous for children, especially considering the vast amount of time they spend in and around them. This fact is borne out by statistics, year in and year out. In 2011 for instance, 148,000 children were injured in automobile accidents. A third of these children were not restrained by a car seat or seatbelt at the time of their injury. Amazing. Intoxicated drivers, poorly installed car seats, and simple carelessness make injuries and death of children in cars mostly preventable. Continue reading

Eczema: A Parent’s Guide (Pedcast)


Welcome to this edition of Hope you are having a great day. Thanks for joining me today. I am your host, Dr Paul Smolen, a general pediatrician with 30 years of experience caring for both sick and well children. I’ve learned a few things during that time and I want to share that knowledge with you.  As I like to say, from the crib to the country club, from the bassinette to the board room and everything in between… that’s what we talk about on Today’s cast very important because we are going to learn about a common skin condition, in fact, the most common skin condition in children-eczema. In today’s pedcast, I hope to give you a fundamental understanding of what is going on in the skin of a child with eczema. We have all heard that word, eczema, but do you understand what exactly it is?  I hope after listening today, that you will.  Before we get started today, let me remind my listeners, that I am probably not your child’s doctor and what you hear on this podcast is intended to supplement your child’s regular healthcare.  For specific advise about your child’s health, visit the wonderful person you call your pediatrician.



You remember from biology class that your skin is made of two layers, the deep part called dermis and surface called epidermis. You may recall that the surface epidermal layer is made mostly of dead cells, which serve to protect the deeper part of our skin, the dermis.   The dermis is where we find the working part of our skin, the sweat and oil glands, the hair follicles, as well as the nerves in our skin.  Babies have two layers as well but their epidermis is thinner and more fragile when they are young. That’s probably why their skin is soooo soft! Soft is great but your babies skin is supposed to be a barrier to the outside world and when it is broken, there are bound to be problems. Thin epidermis can mean easily damaged and cracked.  Bad. Think of your child’s epidermal skin as the shingles on your roof.  If the shingles are cracked or loose, the roof is going to leak. The same is true with your child’s skin; if the epidermal barrier isn’t intact it is not going to work well.  Without an intact barrier (shingles so to speak) your child’s skin will let in irritants that it was not meant to touch and the deeper parts of your child’s skin doesn’t like touching the outside world and will react by turning red and angry…. Itchy red angry skin means the dermis isn’t happy.  In  a  nutshell,  that  is  what  we  call  eczema.




Now that you know what is happening in the skin in a child with eczema, let’s talk about the essential dos and don’ts in skin care for a child with this condition. First the don’ts

Try not to remove oil from their skin by:

Don’t over bathe: Limit bathing.  I suggest twice weekly for young babies.

Don’t use hot water: Try not using hot water when bathing as this may remove oils your baby’s skin really needs.

Don’t use much soap-Try using very little soap for the same reason.  When you do use soap, don’t put the soap in the bath water. Just use a little on the washcloth and only use it on the areas that need it.

If your child is infection prone, many dermatologists recommend using “Clorox” in the bath to kill some of the nasty skin bacteria that can infect the broken skin of eczema. Many experts recommend ½ cup per full bathtub no more than twice weekly. Check out the references in the Smo notes if you don’t believe me or ask your child’s pediatrician but…. take care to follow the directions carefully.


I also want you to limit your child’s exposure to irritants:

Limit Laundry products- I do not recommend you use dryer sheets or softeners. Now, I don’t do much laundry but I hear that baking soda in the wash cycle is a good softener.

Make sure the detergent you choose is perfume and dye free.

Avoid irritating fabrics like wool from touching your child’s skin.

Remember that if you wear perfume or wool clothing, your baby is probably going to get a good dose of it when you carry them around so be careful to keep a cloth on your shoulder when this is going on.

Avoid vigorous rubbing during bathing.  Only use a soft cloth.

Avoid alloy metals- snaps, earrings, jewelry

Avoid skin products with chemicals, especially perfumes

Avoid touching grass or other things that  you find trigger trouble

If you find a food that starts the whole inflamed skin process, avoid it!



If you do have a child with sensitive skin, here are some of the things that you want to do to help keep their skin in good condition. Hydrate the skin. Moisturize quickly after bath as well as at other times.  Use the thickest moisturizer you can that has no perfumes.  Petroleum jelly may work for your child.

Try reminding yourself to moisturize by associating the moisturizing with other activities such as diapering and bathing.  The more the better.  We are talking at least 4 times a day.  Remember, those shingles are cracked and need repair. Suppress eczema that is inflamed. Watch for signs of infection

Pustules, blisters, oozing mean it’s time to seek help from your child’s doctor.



-Let me sum up today’s podcast with one of those DocSmo pearls that I love: “Modern children’s skin probably needs less exposure to modern life.”  Let me repeat that;  “Modern children’s skin probably needs less exposure to modern life.”

Less bathing!

Less soap!

Less hot water bathing!

Less exposure to chemicals and perfumes of all sorts!



That wraps up another edition of

I told you were going to be smarter after this podcast.

If you enjoyed today’s talk, go ahead and check out the extensive DocSmo library of pediatric topics

Share any thoughts you have with us by sending a comment to our blog at  We would love to hear from you.

This is your resident pediatrician, Dr. Paul Smolen, broadcasting from studio 1E in Charlotte, NC hoping you have all the facts about your child’s skin cracks


Until next time


Smo Notes:


  1. Doc Smo podcast with Dr Primmer on Eczema:


  1. Clorox formula for bathing :



Subscribe on iTunes!


Subscribe on iTunes or follow us on Facebook and Twitter!


*By listening to this pedcast, you are agreeing to Doc Smo’s terms and conditions.


All Rights Reserved.

Ear Wax to the Max, “oh my” (Pedcast)

Many children, and adults for that matter, create so much hard earwax that their ear canals become completely closed causing difficulty with hearing. Often their hearing becomes so impaired that they need to visit the pediatrician or otolaryngologist. In this podcast, Dr Smolen gives parents of such children an easy, home based solution for this recurring problem. Add this podcast to Doc Smo’s Practical Pediatrics 101.



-Welcome, welcome to another edition of the  I am your host Dr Paul Smolen…a general pediatrician in Charlotte NC with 30 years of clinical experience under my belt.

-Practical, portable, and precise is our goal in making these pediatric pod casts…helping parents raise their children with information that can be helpful from the crib to the country club.

-As always, by listening or downloading this pod cast, you are agreeing to my terms and conditions posted on my website,

-Today we are going to continue my practical pediatric theme with some advice for those children who make excessive ear wax.

-For most children, ear wax is healthy and necessary to keeping their ear canals clean and uninfected

-But some children, and adults for that matter, chronically make too much wax and actually impair their hearing with all that wax.

-I thought we would take a few minutes today to discuss an easy way to remove excessive wax for those children who have this problem.

-Before we get started with my suggestion, let me remind my listeners that the eardrum is a very delicate structure and we don’t want to in anyway take a chance of damaging it.

-The advice I am going to give for ear wax removal is not for everyone…it is not for anyone who has ever had ear surgery, it is not for anyone with ear pain, it is not for anyone who has a hole in their eardrum currently or in the past.

-So now we are talking about a healthy child, old enough to tell you that they can’t hear well, who has a history of large wax impactions in their ears, who has no pain in their ear, who has never had ear surgery, and you are sure has no perforation in their eardrum.

-When this child’s hearing is impaired they probably have a large wax ball in their ear which is blocking sound from reaching their eardrum.

-To remove this hard wax impaction and restore their hearing to normal, first, we need to soften the wax.

– I recommend a stool softener called Colace for this purpose…yes a stool softener.

-It’s generic name is docusate sodium.

-When a few drops are put in the ear canal and given a few minutes to work, the hard earwax begins to soften and can be flushed out with ease with as syringe of water.  Vwa La as they say in France.  Mission accomplished.

-Colace comes most often as a gel cap which can be punctured and dripped into the ear or is also available less often as a liquid, both of which are very cheap.

-My kind of treatment, cheap and effective.

-A few drops of rubbing alcohol after the flush will make sure the ear canal is dried out from the water flush.

-It’s that simple.  This technique may not solve the healthcare financing crisis but may save someone a lot of visits to their pediatrician or ENT specialist to have their hearing restored.

-My experience is that children who make excessive wax do this their entire life.

-A cleaning once a month usually all that is required to keep their hearing humming.

-Remember, this flushing stuff is only for children who periodically can’t hear because of excessive ear wax, who have never had ear surgery or a hole in their eardrum, and who have no pain in their ears,

-Thank you for joining me today.

-If you like learning practical stuff about caring for your children, you are in the right place.

-Go ahead and ensure that you are going to get all the new content from by subscribing on itunes, liking us on face book, or following us on twitter.

-And don’t forget, comments are welcome.  When it comes to whatever we are talking about, share your wisdom and insights with other parents.  Let’s Talk kids.

-This is Dr Paul Smolen, broadcasting from famous studio 1E, that’s the first child’s bedroom on the east side of the house, hoping you learned some new facts about your child’s ear wax.


Until next time.

Smo Notes:

1 2 4