It’s the Season for Dry Skin
With the onset of winter comes the potential for your child to develop dry, itchy skin. Change in temperature from going from the outside cold air to heated inside air and lack of moisture in the air can cause skin to feel tight, itchy, or flaky. In most children, these simple measures can be taken to alleviate dry skin:
Giving your kids a bath (or shower) too often can be a contributing factor to their dry, itchy skin. Bathing strips the skin of its natural oils causing dryness. If possible, cut baths back to a few times a week instead of every day. If you have to bathe daily, aim to keep your little one in the tub or shower for less than 10 minutes and use lukewarm water. After bathing, pat the skin dry with a towel rather than rubbing.
Skip the Scent
Some scented soaps and moisturizers, while they might smell nice, can actually exacerbate dry, itchy skin. Make the switch to a gentler, unscented cleanser or moisturizer. The same also goes for laundry detergents and fabric softeners. Many scented products contain alcohol as one of the top ingredients, which is a natural drying agent. Swapping out the scented versions of soaps, lotions, and detergents can greatly reduce flare-ups in your child’s dry, itchy skin.
Turn Up the Humidity
We usually look forward to escaping the humidity in the winter months. But, if your child suffers from dry, itchy skin, adding a humidifier to your home may give them some relief. The cold outside air and dry air produced by indoor heating can pull water from the skin, causing dryness. Using a humidifier can replace some of that moisture in the air, leaving the moisture on your child’s skin in place. Aim to keep the humidity in your home above 40 percent.
It’s important to apply moisturizer to your child’s skin as soon as they get out of the bath or shower. Applying moisturizer to damp skin increases its absorption and effectiveness. You should also have your child apply moisturizer after each time they wash their hands. Find a moisturizer that is emolliating. These kinds of ointments and creams work to trap moisture on the outer layer of skin, creating a protective layer. The gooier, the better. Choose fragrance-free, paraben-free, and alcohol-free products if possible to reduce the risk of further irritation.
Eat and Drink Well
Encourage your child to drink more water during the winter months. We often overlook the importance of staying hydrated when it’s cold outside, but hydration is important year-round to maintain healthy skin. Eating a healthy, balanced diet can also help reduce dry skin from the inside out. Give your children moderate amounts of healthy fat sources such as avocado, olive oil, and nut butters.
Keep an Eye Out for Eczema
Not all dry, itchy skin is eczema. But, if you think that your child may have more than just seasonal dry skin, make an appointment with your Pediatric Care Group pediatrician so they can determine if your child has eczema. Your child’s doctor will be able to tell you which type of eczema your child has so you can best manage their symptoms and treatment.