It's winter and that means cold dry air, heat on in the house and dry and chapped skin as a consequence. While I love the cold air, my skin gets dry and itchy an dI see the same thing in my patients of all ages. Many parents will ask, "why are my baby's cheeks and chin red and chapped", or, "what are these dry patches on my child's skin", and teens will say "my hand and feet are dry and cracked".
Dry skin is more common when the air is cold and there is less humidity. The skin tends to get dehydrated and loses some of its natural oils. In order to prevent dry and irritated skin you need to change up your skin care a bit.
There are 3 main points to remember:
1. Bathing instructions
2. Topical creams
3. Topical steroids and antibiotics
Try to limit baths so once a day or every other day, and make them a bit shorter than usual. Turn down the water so it is comfortable, but not hot. While the hot water may feel good at the time, it will dry the skin out even more and make it more itchy once you get out. Even if your child enjoys playtime in the bathtub, let them soak in non-soapy water first, then once they are lathered up, rinse them well and get them out of the tub. You don't want them to sit and soak in the soapy water. Quick showers are less drying on the skin than long baths.
Wintertime baths call for a more gentle soap such as Purpose, Basis, Cetaphil, Vanicream or Free and Clear. Try to avoid any soaps with perfumes and fragrances as they can be more irritating to the skin. It's best to limit soap to the areas of the body that need it the most, and avoid areas that are not as dirty. This means use soap under the arms, the groin or diaper area, and the feet. Don't scrub the arms and legs with soap; most of the time they are not that dirty and a lot of soap on these areas will dry them out, even gentle soaps.
1. Moisturizing Creams
As a general rule, I like to apply moisturizer within 2-3 minutes of getting out of the bath. Towel dry lightly, then, while the skin is still slightly damp, generously apply a good moisturizer. Moisturizing right after the bath will help the skin retain the water that it just absorbed from the bath. I like to use creams rather lotions as they are thicker and provide better lubrication. Some of my favorite moisturizers are Vanicream, Cetaphil Restoraderm, Cerave, Eucerin and Aveeno. Some of these creams contain ceramides which are the latest ingredients in helping dry skin. You can moisturize with these products several times a day, not only after bathing.
Good winter skin care should is essential for everyone in the family.
I'm Dr. Sue with The Kid's Doctor helping parents take charge.
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