Most of the country is in the midst of heating season, and with the dry heat coming from fireplaces, radiators and space heaters comes dry skin. It’s a discomfort of the season that many of us have simply learned to deal with, but if you have a child who has sensitive skin or sensory issues to begin with, the increased dryness can cause a whole host of problems, from itchiness, to eczema, to infections from scratching. If you or your child has been suffering with dry, itchy, uncomfortable skin, here’s what you need to know to get it under control:
- You can try to prevent dry skin by slathering your child with a cream or moisturizing ointment after his bath. Take him out and pat him with a towel, but leave his skin damp, then rub it on. This will help to seal in some of the moisture. Read the ingredients to make sure that there’s no alcohol in the cream; if there is, it will burn and sting when you put it on skin that’s already irritated. Also, ointments and creams are better than lotions.
- Reapply cream two or three times per day, particularly on your child’s hands, feet, elbows and other areas that are already dry.
- Consider running a humidifier in your child’s bedroom to make the air less dry. Make sure it’s the cool mist type to prevent burns, and follow the directions carefully when it comes to cleaning it, as humidifiers can build up mold if they’re not kept clean.
- Dress your child in soft cotton clothing, especially in the layers right next to her skin. Synthetic fabrics and wool can be itchy and scratchy against rough, dry skin.
- If your baby is itchy, keep his nails clipped short and put socks or mittens on his hands when he sleeps. This will help avoid damage to his skin from scratching.
- Protect your child’s skin from the winter weather elements. Tuck her shirt into her pants to avoid letting wind get to her back and tummy. Also, make sure she’s wearing a scarf to protect her sensitive facial skin, and tuck pant legs into her socks inside of her boots.
- Talk to your child’s pediatrician about using a hydrocortisone cream on red, itchy spots. These can help soothe the itch.
If your child is really red, itchy or has raw skin from scratching, take her to see the pediatrician. Some kids also develop eczema, which can be exacerbated by dry air. If the itchy spots are raised, rough and weeping a clear or yellowish liquid, see the pediatrician or a pediatric dermatologist. Also, if your child scratches and the area looks weepy or really red, take him in to be seen, as it could be infected.
Winter weather can wreak havoc on everyone’s skin, but it’s especially uncomfortable for little ones. Taking a few steps to protect your child’s skin from dryness and eczema can keep everyone in the household happier!
Do you have any great tips for making winter more comfortable for those with dry skin?