Minnesota’s harsh and cold winters can really dry out our skin. In general, children have thinner, more delicate skin than adults do. Because of this, they may lose moisture easier. But with a few changes to your child’s daily routine, dry and itchy skin can be managed during the winter.
Dr. Gigi Chawla, chief of general pediatrics at Children’s Minnesota, shares tips for parents to help their kids with their dry and itchy skin this winter.
What should parents consider when looking at moisturizers?
Moisturizing is an important part of soothing your dry, winter skin. Moisturizers come in different categories – there are: creams, lotions and ointments. What’s the difference between these three?
- Ointments: These contain the most oils. They are very helpful for extremely dry, irritated areas.
- Creams: They are also a good option for dry skin because they contain a lot of oils, which are good at sealing moisture into the skin.
- Lotions: These contain fewer oils but more water. Lotions may be helpful in warmer months or for those whose skin is not as dry.
There are two ways to help your skin get the most out of the moisturizer you pick:
- Apply to damp skin. Since they seal in moisture, it’s best to use moisturizers right after showering or bathing while skin is still damp and moist.
- Cover up. Putting on cotton-based clothing right after using a moisturizer can help protect the skin, keep it from rubbing off and help seal in moisture.
Changing bath time routines can help your child’s dry skin
Besides the moisturizer you are picking to help your child’s dry skin, there are other ways to help. One important way is to changing bath time routines. This can have some of the biggest impacts on improving dry, itchy skin.
Baths are better than showers at helping to keep dry skin hydrated. And, short baths and showers are better than long ones. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests limiting bath time to less than 10 minutes for babies and toddlers.
Stay cool! Keep the water temperature lukewarm when showering and bathing. This is important because hot water may dry out the skin.
Avoid bubble baths & foamy, scented soaps. The products often contain detergents that can strip skin of natural oils and make it more prone to dryness.
Dry off without drying out. When your child is done bathing, pat them dry with a soft cotton towel. Do not rub as it will strip more oils from the skin surface and irritate sensitive skin. Then, immediately apply a good moisturizer head-to-toe.
How else can we manage dry skin?
Here are additional ways you can help keep your child’s skin moist and avoid the winter dryness!
Consider using “free and clear” laundry detergents with no fragrances, dyes or perfumes.
Consider cotton or bamboo sheets and pillowcases as they tend to be soft, breathe well and be less irritating to the skin.
We recommend considering cotton clothing as well. It can keep sweat from building up on the skin, which causes irritation. Synthetic fabrics can be rougher and tend to trap heat, which can cause sweating and irritation.
Consider taking steps to add moisture to your environment. A whole house humidifier can help your overall environment remain around 40% humidity. If that’s not an option, a console or cool-mist room humidifier can be another option to add moisture to the air.