When the weather cools down, dry, itchy skin flares up, and a child’s skin is particularly vulnerable. Nearly 10 million children in the United States have eczema. The cause is not known, but low temps, dry central heating, and low humidity indoors can dry and irritate your child’s skin and make it more susceptible to an eczema flare-up.
To help navigate this itch-prone season, Dr. Mamina Turegano, a New Orleans dermatologist, shares tips to protect kids’ skin this winter:
Regulate room temps. Make sure the space where your child sleeps is not too hot. If your child is prone to eczema, dry heat will aggravate the skin and make eczema worse.
Keep baths short. It’s fine to bathe your child every day, but keep bath time to no more than five to seven minutes. Ensure that bath water is warm, not hot. Bathing habits are the most common reasons that we lose the natural moisture in our skin. The more water that you expose skin to, the drier skin gets. Hot water further dries out the skin. I recommend a brief (five minute), lukewarm shower or bath, only once a day.
Use a mild soap. Look for one that’s made for sensitive skin and contains moisturizing cream. I recommend avoiding soaps with fragrances or dyes. Proper skin care is extremely important in those with eczema-prone skin and involves avoiding products (soaps, detergents, moisturizers, etc.) that have fragrances, dyes, and other potential allergens.
Soak and smear. Pat yourself dry with a soft towel but don’t rub vigorously. Within one minute after patting skin dry, while it is still damp, apply moisturizers to lock in water that your skin absorbed during the shower. Moisturizers containing ceramides, such as EpiCeram, are better able to lock in the moisture. EpiCeram is one of my favorite moisturizers because it contains ceramides in the same ratio that naturally exists in our skin.
Avoid using wipes, if possible. If your baby’s skin is prone to dryness, the wipe can dry the skin out — particularly if it’s made of synthetic fabric, which can aggravate the skin. Lightly wash, or, if you have to, use an alcohol-, propylene glycol-, and paraben-free wipe.
“The more a kid scratches his skin, the worse the eczema can get, so it’s best to stop the itch-scratch cycle as early as possible,” says Dr. Turegano.