The winter’s harsh outdoor conditions and dry indoor heat can be terribly drying for skin. But it is particularly rough for babies and young children. Their skin is delicate and easily stripped of its natural oils. If dry skin is allowed to advance, babies and toddlers can quickly develop itchy, uncomfortable rashes that often lead to disrupted sleep. In the most advanced forms of this dry skin rash, the skin can break down and crack, allowing bacteria to enter and infect the skin. Protect young skin in the winter with a few simple steps.
Stop washing that baby!
Most babies and many young children do not need a bath every day. Other than a quick rinse of the diaper area with water, their skin often does not get dirty enough to need cleansing on a daily basis. Even the most “mild” cleanser formulated for baby skin can remove some essential oils on delicate skin and worsen dry skin rash. Reduce the frequency of bathing children to only a few times per week in the winter to help preserve the skin’s natural moisture levels.
Forgo the fragrance.
Although most moms would agree that there are few things more wonderful than the smell of a freshly-washed baby, the fact is fragrance in skin care products can be very irritating to delicate skin. Choose ultramild, fragrance-free formulations whenever possible and use sparingly to avoid irritation. As an alternative to soap for the wintertime, try a soothing oatmeal bath instead. There are natural cleansers in these preparations and the ground-up oatmeal can leave a soothing layer of hydration on the skin even after the bath.
Every day and especially immediately after a bath, moisturize young skin with a thick, emollient moisturizer. Thick ointments and creams (such as Aquaphor, Eucerin, Vanicream and CeraVe), when used within minutes after the bath, can help lock in the hydration and balance moisture levels throughout the day. Make sure you choose versions for babies or ones that don’t have extra added ingredients that could be irritating, and ask your child’s doctor which they recommend. To boost hydration in the skin overnight, put a humidifier in the nursery. The added hydration in the air can be drawn into the skin and boost the effectiveness of moisturizers used before bedtime.
If your child continues to have dry, uncomfortable skin even after trying these tips, be sure to consult their doctor.
Just as a baby’s clothes need to be changed throughout the year to keep them comfortable and happy, so does their skin routine. With these few simple steps, you can help keep their skin well-hydrated and comfortable. I can’t guarantee following these steps will have them sleeping through the night, but at least it won’t be their itchy skin keeping them awake!