Baby with dry skin

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12 Tips to Soothe Dry Baby Skin

Your baby’s brand-new skin is not only thinner and more sensitive than yours, but it also produces fewer moisturizing oils than the grown-up version. So it’s no wonder that it gets easily chapped. Winter months can be particularly rough, when you switch between cool, dry outdoor air to overheated (and still-dry) indoor air. So what can you do to protect baby’s sensitive skin — and soothe it if it dries out?

Natural Ways to Prevent Dry Baby Skin

  • Keep baths short and sweet (and fairly infrequent). As fun as bath time can be, cut off each sudsing session at around 10 minutes. Any longer can lead to dry skin. And limit baths to just two to three times a week — unless your little one really needs an extra scrub-down.
  • Use lukewarm water. It’s less drying (and just plain safer since it can’t burn your baby) than hotter water.
  • Shy away from soap. When buying baby care products, choose a gentle, fragrance-free, hypoallergenic cleanser instead of standard soap. Bubble baths are also off limits since they can cause dry baby skin (and irritate little vaginas).
  • Don’t let your baby sit in sudsy water. Pure, out-of-the-faucet stuff isn’t as drying as soapy H2O. If your baby loves to splash, let her have at it before you break out the cleanser.
  • Pat baby’s skin dry after a bath. Resist rubbing — too much towel friction can chap delicate skin.
  • Don’t overheat your house. Warmer air wicks moisture out of babies’ skin, so set your thermostat as close to 68° F as you can.
  • Cover your kid on cold-weather outings. Mittens and hats keep baby’s skin from getting wind-whipped. A light layer of petroleum jelly or emollient cream can prevent your child’s face from getting chapped on frosty days.
  • Use a gentle laundry detergent. One made specifically for baby clothes should do the trick. Follow this baby care pointer past the newborn phase — it can prevent skin from getting dry and irritated through the first year and beyond.

Natural Treatments for Dry Baby Skin

  • Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. After every bath, spread a gentle, hypoallergenic baby lotion or oil onto your baby’s slightly damp skin.
  • Use a cool-mist humidifier in the nursery, or add a humidifier to your furnace. Moisture in the air adds moisture to skin.
  • Keep the drinks coming. If you can manage it, breastfeed more often or add a bit more formula to your baby’s bottles. Yep, it will mean changing more wet diapers, but keeping your little one hydrated is great for her skin.
  • Add oatmeal to baths. A drop of colloidal oatmeal can be a super soother during tub time. You can also wrap a cup of oatmeal in a clean washcloth, twist it closed, soak it and then squeeze and drizzle the oatmeal-infused water over dry baby skin.

If dry patches crack, spread or seem to be a big bother to your baby, talk to your pediatrician, who may suggest some special treatment options for severely dry baby skin.

More About Baby Skin Care

Care Baby Skin Issues and Conditions Care Gentle Care for Newborn Skin Newborns Newborn Baby Acne Treatments and Remedies Care Baby Skin Issues and Conditions Care Gentle Care for Newborn Skin Newborns Newborn Baby Acne Treatments and Remedies

Parenthood comes with many “expectations vs. real life” moments, and one of the firsts is when moms find out that “baby smooth skin” is more myth than reality, especially in the beginning. Many babies have dry, flaking, peeling, or scaly skin — hello, cradle cap! — and these issues especially flare up in the dry winter.

The good news is that there’s plenty parents can do help mitigate their baby’s dry skin. “One of the most important things parents can do is to moisturize frequently,” says Katie Lockwood, M.D., a primary care pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). “I recommend they moisturize daily, increasing to a few times per day if babies are very dry, especially after bathing. Immediately after coming out of the tub, parents should pat the baby dry and then apply a moisturizer right away. In general, ointments that come in a jar or tub are the most moisturizing, then creams that you squeeze from a tube, and lastly things that you pump like lotions.”

And, when choosing an ointment, keep an eye out for ingredients that might further irritate your baby’s skin. “I recommend any thick ointment or cream that is fragrance-free and dye-free,” says Jaime Friedman, M.D., a pediatrician based in San Diego, California. “Some good options are Vaseline, Aquaphor, Cetaphil, Eucerin, or CeraVe. I also recommend avoiding fragrance in laundry soap, bath soap, and creams. This includes natural scents like lavender. And finally, do not use topical steroids unless directed by your doctor.”

More Parenting

And while you may have heard that you should skip a bath if dry skin is bad, it might be helpful to keep up the bathtime routine. “Old recommendations were to avoid bathing babies more than once or twice a week, particularly in the colder months,” says Sara DuMond, M.D., F.A.A.P., a pediatrician and medical expert for Dr. Brown’s. “The newest information indicates that daily soaks in warm water for about 10 minutes are actually preferable. Most days, these soaks should just be with warm water only, and no soap. Soap should only be used a couple of times a week, toward the end of the bath, rinsing all of the soap completely off of the skin, and then followed by the above post-bath moisturizer routine. We refer to the daily warm soaks and post-bath moisturizing affectionately as the ‘soak and seal’ method!”

And peeling isn’t the only thing to watch out for. “Some other tips: Make sure to keep nails cut neat, short, and straight across to avoid scratching,” says Jen Trachtenberg, M.D., creator of Pediatrician in Your Pocket. “And a cool mist humidifier may be helpful if the house is very dry, since that can cause more itchy skin.”

In addition to the pediatrician-recommended products, check out these Good Housekeeping Institute-tested remedies for baby’s dry skin below.

Seal-Holder Aquaphor Baby Healing Ointment Aquaphor amazon.com $27.39 GHI-Tested Pipette Baby Balm Pipette Baby amazon.com $13.00 Great for Gifting Aveeno Baby Daily Bathtime Solutions Aveeno Baby amazon.com $17.92 Top Lab Pick Honeywell HCM350B Cool Mist Humidifier Honeywell amazon.com $62.79

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Marisa LaScala Parenting & Relationships Editor Marisa LaScala covers all things parenting, from the postpartum period through empty nests, for GoodHousekeeping.com; she previously wrote about motherhood for Parents and Working Mother.

Newborn Skin Peeling: What Causes It And How To Best Treat It

Bringing a child into the world is one of life’s most magical experiences. It comes with all sorts of emotions — happiness, excitement, and, sometimes, concern. One of the things that may cause you to worry is noticing that your newborn’s skin is peeling.

Peeling skin is a common newborn condition. It’s also something that new parents often ask about.

If your newborn has peeling skin, you’re probably wondering:

  • Whether it’s normal
  • What’s causing it
  • What you can do to treat it

In this post, the baby experts at Mustela will answer all of these questions to help put your mind — and your newborn — at ease.

Is It Normal For A Newborn To Have Peeling Skin?

If your newborn’s skin is peeling, the first question that’s probably crossed your mind is whether or not it’s normal. You can now breathe a sigh of relief: it’s perfectly normal.

In fact, all newborns lose their outer layer of skin in the first two to three weeks after birth. Babies spend their first nine months surrounded by protective liquids, so being exposed to dry air is a new phenomenon for them. It can be a difficult transition.

As newborn babies adjust to life outside the womb, they must create a new layer of skin suitable for their new environment. This means getting rid of their old skin and replacing it with an outer layer that is tougher and more resilient. So most newborns’ skin will peel off in their first few weeks of life.

Of course, this may result in some unsightly peeling skin on your little one’s body. Just remember that it’s perfectly normal and that it will heal soon. Keep reading to find out all the most effective ways to treat your newborn’s peeling skin!

What’s Causing My Newborn’s Skin To Peel?

While in gestation, your baby is surrounded by something called amniotic fluid. Amniotic fluid helps to protect your infant while in the womb. It also helps to pass nutrients from mother to child.

Around the 20th week of gestation, a thin layer of protective wax forms on the outside of your baby’s skin. This waxy outer layer is called vernix. Interestingly, the official name for vernix is vernix caseosa, which is Latin and roughly translates to “cheesy varnish.”

While researchers aren’t entirely sure what the purpose of vernix is, there are a number of theories, such as:

  • Vernix may stop your child from absorbing too much fluid while in the womb.
  • It can act as a natural lubricant during labor.
  • Vernix supplies antibacterial protection around the time of birth.
  • It can protect your newborn’s skin during and immediately after delivery.

Whatever the reasons for its development may be, vernix is usually washed off a newborn’s skin soon after birth. Some small patches of vernix may remain in your little one’s creviced skin, such as the armpits or between the toes.

That’s perfectly fine. In fact, medical professionals advise against washing off vernix intentionally. Instead, you should allow it to fall off naturally (which will happen in the first several weeks of your child’s life).

Once most of the protective vernix is gone, your newborn’s skin becomes more vulnerable to the harsh conditions of life outside the womb. Infants have extremely soft, delicate skin that’s often irritated easily. On top of that, consider the fact that your little one has spent most of their entire existence surrounded by fluid.

As a result, something as ordinary as dry air has the potential to cause dryness and peeling on your newborn’s skin.

Is My Newborn’s Peeling Skin Painful?

A common concern among new parents is that their baby is experiencing pain or discomfort from peeling skin. After all, newborn skin peeling can look a bit odd and might lead a parent to believe it’s painful.

Well, we have great news for you! It’s not painful at all. As we just mentioned, all newborns have peeling skin in their first month outside the womb. It’s not only normal, it’s necessary. Your baby needs to develop a new, stronger layer of skin that’s more suitable for their new environment outside of mom’s belly.

Even in severe cases of newborn skin peeling, infants probably don’t even notice that it’s happening. It’s not something that they feel or are affected by. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take special care of your baby’s skin.

While newborn skin peeling is perfectly normal and doesn’t require a visit to the doctor, you should know that there are other baby skin conditions that might. Later, we’ll go into more detail about baby acne, cradle cap, eczema, and other skin issues that may give your little one itchy, red, dry, or scaly skin.

How Do I Treat Newborn Skin Peeling?

Now that we’ve gone over what causes your newborn’s skin to peel, let’s have a look at all the things you can do to treat it.

Make Baths Short And Sweet

Long baths can remove moisture and hydration from your newborn’s delicate skin. Make efficient use of your baby’s bath time! Five to seven minutes is the ideal length of time for your newborn’s bath. Try not to allow it to last more than 10 minutes.

When it comes to bathing babes, more is not always better. In addition to keeping baths short, make sure not to bathe your baby too frequently. Limit baths to once per day. Anything more could dry out your little one’s skin.

Between bath times or when you’re on the go, you can use No Rinse Soothing Cleansing Water, which will keep your baby clean from head to toe — no bathwater or rinsing needed!

After bath time is over, gently pat your baby’s skin dry from head to toe and make sure to pay special attention to the tricky nooks that have the potential to trap water and moisture — the diaper area, chubby leg folds, and tiny armpits. Trapped moisture could lead to skin irritation or a rash.

Use Lukewarm Water

Hot water dries out skin for people of all ages — including newborns. If your little one has peeling skin, you definitely don’t want to use water that’s too warm. A water temperature of 100° F is perfect for your newborn’s sensitive skin. And always follow a bath with a layer of a hydrating moisturizer.

Use A Baby Cleanser (Not Soap!)

To help treat and prevent peeling skin, only wash your newborn with a cleanser specially formulated with natural ingredients for babies. The soap you use for yourself is likely too harsh for your newborn’s delicate skin. Baby-friendly shampoos are also beneficial for your new little one.

Add Bath Oil

Make bath time a little less drying by adding a drop or two of bath oil to the water before getting started. Mustela’s bath oil preserves the skin barrier to help keep baby’s skin hydrated. Plus, you can also use it as a cleansing oil when their body is wet.

Finally, bath oil will help neutralize any harsh chemicals that could further dry out your little one’s skin. All of this will help you treat and prevent newborn skin peeling.

One word of caution: remember that oil in the bath can make the tub extra slippery! Be careful getting baby in and out of the bath, and make sure to clean the tub to remove the oily layer when necessary. Use natural cleaning products to avoid leaving irritating chemicals in baby’s bathtub.

Avoid Cold Air And Wind

As we mentioned above, newborn skin simply isn’t used to being exposed to air. Compared to the amniotic fluids they were surrounded by while in gestation, the air outside the womb is very dry.

To treat your newborn’s peeling skin, keep your home at a comfortable temperature and keep your bundle of joy wrapped up when in chilly weather.

Use A Humidifier

Using a humidifier in your home can make a big difference for your baby’s skin. Humidifiers add moisture to the air, which helps treat and prevent newborn skin peeling. Set the humidifier up in whichever room your baby spends the most time, and let it run for a few hours whenever the air feels a bit dry.

Apply Baby Moisturizer

One of the best ways to treat your newborn’s peeling skin is with a small dab of Mustela Nourishing Cream With Cold Cream. For extremely dry patches on your newborn’s skin, you can also apply a dab of our Stelatopia Emollient Balm.

All of these Mustela products are hypoallergenic, so they will safely soothe your baby and treat their peeling skin — without any risks or side-effects.

Wash Clothing With Gentle Detergents

New baby clothes may come with irritants on them. If your newborn has peeling skin, it’s very important to wash all clothing items before putting them on your baby. It’s also important to wash other materials that will touch your little one’s skin, like sheets, bibs, towels, etc.

Make sure to use gentle, baby-friendly laundry detergent.

Dress Your Baby In The Right Clothing

Not only is it important to wash your baby’s clothes in gentle detergents, but it’s also important that you dress your baby in the right clothing. Choose clothing made from soft, gentle fabrics that won’t rub or irritate your newborn’s peeling skin.

Don’t dress your little one in clothing that’s too tight, as tight clothing can prevent your baby’s skin from breathing, possibly leading to irritation and rashes. Opt for loose-fitting clothing instead. Try Mustela’s Stelatopia Skin-Soothing Pajamas, which are 100% cotton and made with natural ingredients to help soothe baby’s skin.

Lastly, when the weather is chilly, dress your baby in several thin layers rather than one or two heavy layers. Babies tend to get hot (and cold) easily, so multiple rounds of layering and delayering may be necessary to keep your child comfortable and content.

Choose The Right Products For Your Baby

We’ve already explained how important it is to choose baby-friendly cleansers, shampoos, moisturizers, and detergents. But the list doesn’t stop there! Many other products may contain harmful chemicals that will irritate and inflame your baby’s delicate skin.

For instance, many sunscreens contain harmful ingredients that are not safe for infants. These types of sunscreens (and other products with unsafe added chemicals) are not helpful when caring for a newborn with peeling skin. Mineral sunscreens are a much better alternative.

You should always use hypoallergenic skin care products made with natural ingredients on your newborn. Using safe, baby-friendly products, like Mustela’s, will make a big difference for your newborn’s peeling skin.

Give Your Newborn Plenty Of Fluids

On average, newborns need to eat every 90 to 120 minutes. And the only thing babies can consume in their first few months of life is breast milk and/or baby formula. These liquids contain all the nutrients your bundle of joy needs to stay healthy and continue growing.

That said, make sure you’re feeding your baby often enough. This will not only keep your baby healthy and happy, but it will also ensure that they’re hydrated. A well-hydrated baby means well-hydrated skin, which can help clear up any peeling.

Keep Your Newborn Comfortable

This is one of the most important things you can do to treat your newborn’s peeling skin. If your little one seems to be uncomfortable because of their peeling skin, try to make them as comfy and happy as possible.

The tips listed here will all be helpful, but special love and attention from you can go a long way, too.

When Do I Need To Take My Baby To A Doctor?

Newborn skin peeling is perfectly normal. With that said, there are some cases in which your newborn will require a trip to the family doctor. If your baby has skin that is red, cracked, scaly, or extremely itchy, visit a doctor as soon as possible.

Below are some of the most common skin problems among newborns.

An Ordinary Rash

There are many different kinds of rashes that your baby may experience.

For example, they may have a simple case of diaper rash, or they may have a slight allergic reaction to an irritant like pet dander or tree pollen. They may also develop a minor heat rash on their wrists, ankles, neck, or armpits. Too much clothing or an excessively hot environment normally cause this type of rash.

These types of rashes are completely normal and may or may not require a trip to the doctor’s office. Use your judgment to make the right decision.

While all of the rashes mentioned above are normal and will usually go away on their own in a day or two, it’s important to assess the severity of your little one’s rash. If it looks bad or is covering a large portion of your newborn’s body, it’s time to see the family pediatrician.

Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)

Atopic Dermatitis, more commonly known as eczema, is an inflammation that causes dry, itchy, red spots on your baby’s skin. This condition occurs in about 20 percent of the population at some point in life, although it is slightly more common during childhood years.

Eczema is neither life-threatening nor contagious. But if your newborn has bright red patches of skin on their body, a trip to the doctor is a good idea. Eczema might be the cause.

If that’s the case, you’ll want to invest in products made specifically for eczema-prone babies, like Mustela’s Eczema-Prone Skin Essentials Bundle. You should also pay particular attention to putting your baby in clothes and pajamas that won’t cause an eczema flare-up.

Baby Acne

Only teenagers get acne, right? Unfortunately, no. Even newborn babies can develop acne. Baby acne, like other forms of acne, results in small, oily, red bumps.

Even though around 30% of newborn babies develop baby acne, doctors aren’t entirely sure what causes it. A probiotic imbalance, exposure to mom’s hormones through breast milk (though that doesn’t mean you should stop breastfeeding!), or a reaction to formula or medication are potential causes.

Baby acne is not a dangerous condition but may be worrisome to you as a parent. Treating baby acne might involve using a gentle cleanser, applying breast milk topically to your baby’s skin, or covering their little hands with socks to prevent them from scratching the acne.

It can also be helpful to steer clear of rough towels, fabrics, and stuffed animals. Baby acne is a normal condition but, if it persists, one that you will want your doctor to look at.

Expert tip: keep a bottle of Mustela’s No Rinse Cleansing Water on hand to clean your little one’s skin in-between baths and help prevent baby acne.

Cradle Cap (Seborrhoeic Dermatitis)

Cradle cap is a skin disorder that results in red, greasy, itchy, inflamed skin. It occurs in only about 2 percent of the adult population but in roughly 40 percent of children and babies.

If your newborn has greasy, itchy, red, and/or scaly patches of skin on their head, cradle cap is almost certainly the culprit. But don’t worry; it is not a harmful condition, it’s not a result of poor hygiene, and it usually resolves itself within the baby’s first year. Cradle cap might get infected, but this is rare.

The good news is that taking care of cradle cap is similar to caring for newborn skin peeling and includes using a humidifier, keeping baths short, and using baby oil and the right baby shampoo, such as Mustela’s Foam Shampoo For Newborns. See your doctor if you’re concerned about cradle cap.

Congenital Ichthyosis

Ichthyosis is a rare genetic disorder that causes the skin to become thick and scaly. The disorder is sometimes called “fish scale disease,” as the skin may resemble the scales of a fish. There are many different forms of ichthyosis, ranging in severity and symptoms.

If your newborn has skin that is dry, cracked, and scaly, visit a doctor to have it checked out.

Almost all newborns will have flaky, peeling skin in their first several weeks outside the womb. It is completely normal and, in fact, a sign that your baby is developing the kind of skin they need for their new environment.

The majority of the time, newborn skin peeling will resolve itself soon enough. In the meantime, try all of the treatments listed above to keep your little one comfortable and their skin moisturized. Add lots of hugs and kisses from Mom and Dad, and you’ll have a happy, comfy baby in no time!

Causes of dry skin

Many babies have dry, peeling skin immediately after birth, particularly if they’re born after 40 weeks. This is normal and gets better quickly.

Bathing too often and using soap can cause dry skin, or make skin worse if it’s already dry. This is because soap removes the skin’s natural oils and makes it harder for your child’s skin to keep moisture in.

Weather can also affect your child’s skin. Hot or cold weather with low humidity might make dry skin more likely.

Genetic diseases like eczema can cause very dry skin in childhood, along with rarer conditions like ichthyosis.

Symptoms of dry skin

Dry skin looks like flaky, rough patches on your child’s skin. Dry skin isn’t usually very itchy or red. Dry skin can come up anywhere and everywhere. Children mostly get it on their faces, arms (especially elbows) and legs (especially knees).

If your child’s skin is very dry, cracks might develop. These can be painful. Sometimes they might even bleed or get infected.

If dry skin becomes itchy or red, it’s likely that eczema has developed in the skin. Eczema usually comes up in patches in the elbow creases, behind the knees or on the face. It’s more likely to develop when the skin is dry.

When to see a doctor about dry skin

You should take your child to your GP if your child has:

  • dry skin that doesn’t get better with over-the-counter products
  • patches of dry skin that are red and itchy
  • patches of painful dry skin – these might be infected.

Your GP might send your child to see a dermatologist if the dryness doesn’t get better with normal treatment.

Treatment for dry skin

Keep bath times short, and keep the water warm but not hot. Your child doesn’t need a bath every day, especially in winter and low humidity times.

Avoid using soap, fragranced products, and bubble bath products in your child’s bath. Use plain water or a soap-free liquid wash instead.

You can add special water-dispersible bath oils to your child’s bath water. You can get these from any pharmacy. Be careful when you use them, because they can make the bath slippery. Avoid bath oils that have antiseptics in them, unless your child has a diagnosed infection.

It’s essential to use a fragrance-free, non-irritating moisturiser like Dermeze, emulsifying ointment or Vaseline. You could also try aqueous cream or sorbolene with 10% glycerine cream. Your child must use the moisturiser regularly, ideally twice a day or more. A good time is after your child’s bath while her skin is warm and damp.

You might need to try several different moisturisers before you find one that suits your child. The most important thing is to make sure that the moisturiser doesn’t sting your child. If it does, wipe it off gently. Ointments are often better and less likely to sting than creams because they have fewer added ingredients.

Dry skin can come and go, so don’t worry if it comes back. Try to work out what’s causing it and the times of year that it happens. This can help you prevent it.

Dry skin prevention

Your child doesn’t need daily baths, and he doesn’t need to use soap either. Avoiding too many baths as well as soap will help prevent dry skin. An older child can use a soap-free wash.

If your child is prone to dry skin or eczema, keep her bath times to no longer than five minutes.

Using moisturiser after your child’s bath will help to stop the skin from drying out.

If your child takes swimming lessons, moisturise before and after lessons.

Dress your child in loose cotton clothing if possible, or add a cotton layer under woollen or synthetic clothing.

Why Is My Newborn’s Skin Peeling?

Although skin peeling is normal in newborns, you may worry about your infant’s skin cracking or becoming overly dry in certain areas. Here are some simple strategies to protect your newborn’s skin and reduce dryness.

Reduce bath time

Long baths can remove natural oils from your newborn’s skin. If you’ve been giving your newborn 20- or 30-minute baths, cut bath time down to 5 or 10 minutes.

Use lukewarm instead of hot water, and only use fragrance-free, soap-free cleansers. Regular soap and bubble baths are too harsh for a newborn’s skin.

Apply a moisturizer

If your baby’s skin seems dry, you may want to apply a hypoallergenic moisturizer to your baby’s skin twice a day, including after bath time. Applying cream to skin immediately after a bath helps seal in moisture. This can ease dryness and keep your baby’s skin soft. Gently massaging your newborn’s skin with a moisturizer can loosen flaky skin and facilitate peeling.

Keep your newborn hydrated

Keeping your baby as hydrated as possible also reduces dry skin. Babies shouldn’t drink water until they’re about 6 months old, unless your doctor says otherwise.

Protect your newborn from cold air

Make sure your newborn’s skin isn’t exposed to the cold or wind when outdoors. Put socks or mittens over your baby’s hands and feet. You can also place a blanket over your newborn’s car seat or carrier to protect their face from the wind and cold air.

Avoid harsh chemicals

Because a newborn’s skin is sensitive, it’s also important to avoid harsh chemicals that can irritate your baby’s skin. Don’t apply perfumes or scented products to your newborn’s skin.

Instead of washing your newborn’s clothes with regular laundry detergent, choose a detergent designed specifically for a baby’s sensitive skin.

Use a humidifier

If the air in your house is too dry, use a cool mist humidifier to raise the moisture level in your home. A humidifier helps relieve eczema and dry skin.

What’s making my child’s skin so dry?

Babies and children can get dry skin just like adults do. In fact, because young skin is more delicate, it’s more susceptible to becoming dry.

Cold, dry outdoor air and indoor heating can rob skin of its natural moisture in the winter. And if your child is prone to dry skin, he’ll break out in dry patches in the summer as well, because the summer sun, air conditioning, salt water, and the chlorine in pool water can all be drying.

What can I do about my child’s dry skin?

Cut back on bath time
Bathing dries a child’s skin because it removes the skin’s natural oils along with the dirt. But as long as you take a few precautions, even daily baths shouldn’t be a problem, says Seth Orlow, director of pediatric dermatology at New York University School of Medicine.

Instead of a 30-minute bath, cut bath time down to about 10 minutes. Use warm water – not hot – and soap up sparingly. In fact, Orlow suggests using a fragrance-free, soap-free cleanser, which is much less harsh than regular soap.

Let your child have her playtime in the tub before you wash her, so she won’t be sitting in soapy water. And don’t leave the cleansing bar floating in the tub. You’ll probably want to cut bubble baths out of your child’s routine – or at least limit them to special occasions.

While bath oils may seem like a good idea, they can make the tub dangerously slippery, and most of the oil slides down the drain anyway. Applying an emollient (skin moisturizer) after bathing is a better route.

Slather on the moisturizer
Once you take your child out of the bath, quickly pat him dry with a towel, then apply moisturizer immediately. Applying the moisturizer within minutes of taking your child out of the tub will seal in the water that’s still in his skin from the bath.

As far as moisturizers go, the general rule is the thicker the better. If your child’s skin is still dry even with daily moisturizing, try switching from a lotion to a thicker cream or ointment. (Ointments are best at keeping moisture in the skin, but they can feel greasy. Just use small amounts and gently rub it into the skin. Creams rub in without leaving a greasy feel on the skin.)

You might also want to consider moisturizing twice a day – once after bathing and once during the day. If your child doesn’t have the patience for a midday slather, you might let him listen to a favorite song or watch a video while you apply the moisturizer. Or, if he’s old enough, let him do it himself, if that makes the routine more agreeable.

Don’t let salt or chlorine dry on her skin
Chlorine and salt water can both be very drying. After a swim in the pool or ocean, rinse off your child with tap water, and then apply moisturizer while her skin’s still damp.

Run a humidifier
If the air in your home is dry, use a cool mist humidifier in your child’s room.

Keep your child well hydrated
Dry skin lacks moisture. Offer your child plenty to drink year-round to replace the moisture that’s evaporating from his skin. (If your child is still a baby, stick with breast milk or formula for at least the first six months, unless his doctor advises otherwise. Read our expert’s answer to “When can my baby drink water?”

Keep in mind that drinking a lot won’t do anything if you don’t moisturize as well. It’s like pouring water into a bucket with a hole, says Orlow. Without moisturizer to hold in the water, your child’s skin won’t properly hydrate.

Protect your child from the elements
Make sure your child wears mittens or gloves in cold weather to keep her hands from becoming dry and chapped from the cold and the wind. No matter what the season, take steps to protect her from windburn and sunburn.

Avoid drying or aggravating ingredients
Don’t use powders or perfumes on your child’s skin, and consider using unscented laundry products. If your child’s skin is especially sensitive, you may want to rinse his clothes twice, to remove all traces of soap residue.

If your child’s skin is very sensitive, don’t dress him in clothing that’s tight or rough. Also keep in mind that some fabrics, such as wool, can be especially irritating to dry skin.

Be diligent about keeping your child’s nails clean and short if itching is a problem.

Could dry skin be a sign of some other kind of condition?

If your child has itchy red patches on her skin, it’s possible she has eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis. Sometimes even eczema will clear up with regular moisturizing, though, so you needn’t rush to the doctor unless the patches don’t get better or your child seems itchy or uncomfortable despite your efforts.

In rare cases, dry skin can indicate a genetic condition called ichthyosis. Ichthyosis shows up as dry skin with scaling and occasionally redness. It’s also generally accompanied by a thickening of the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. If your doctor suspects that your child has ichthyosis, he’ll probably refer you to a dermatologist evaluation and treatment.

Should I talk with the doctor about my child’s dry skin?

At your child’s next visit to the doctor, ask for recommendations for battling dry skin. Schedule a visit if you think your child has signs of eczema or ichthyosis, as described above. Also call for an appointment if your child’s skin doesn’t improve with home treatments or you see any signs of infection, like a yellow discharge or swelling around a crack in his skin.

A rash has blossomed on your baby’s face. Of course, you’re concerned. You wonder if it hurts. Will it spread? What does it mean?

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Fifth disease, or erythema infectiosum, is a viral infection that can cause a rash on the face and body. It’s sometimes also called “slapped face syndrome.” It can also affect other parts of the body, including the upper arms, torso and legs, appearing as a more spread out red, lacy rash.

Pediatrician Kimberly Churbock, MD, says it’s common for babies and younger kids to bring home this infection from daycare or preschool ― and it’s usually not cause for alarm. Here, she explains what you need to know about fifth disease:

Q: How can I tell if my child might have Fifth’s disease?

A: Keep an eye out for mild aches, fatigue, cold-like symptoms and sometimes a low-grade fever, which go away days before the rash appears. The rash may itch, but most children with Fifth disease aren’t as uncomfortable as their parents may assume by the look of it!

Parents often mistaken Fifth disease for chapped cheeks or another common viral/bacterial culprit in rashes: measles, scarlet fever, rubella, Duke’s disease (now considered one and the same as scarlet fever) or roseola. (Fun fact: Fifth disease was so named because it was the fifth of these six rash-producing infections to be identified.)

Rashes related to eczema, poison ivy and hand-foot-mouth disease can also be confused with Fifth disease.

Your child’s pediatrician can usually diagnose Fifth disease by simply looking at the rash.

Q: How do children catch Fifth’s disease?

A: A virus called parvovirus B19 causes Fifth disease. It’s spread through saliva and mucus when little ones cough, sneeze, share drinking cups, put toys in their mouth or touch each other’s hands and faces.

Q: When is my child contagious?

A: Once the rash appears, he or she typically isn’t contagious anymore. (Of course, this makes it all the harder to manage spreading Fifth’s disease in a school or other group setting.)

In kids with healthy immune systems, the virus usually goes away on its own within two weeks.

Q: How do you soothe those cheeks?

A: Try using an oral or topical antihistamine to help relieve the itch and keep the rash from getting more angry-looking from your child’s scratching. If he or she has some fever or achiness, including headache, acetaminophen or ibuprofen will help them feel better.

Q: Is there any way to protect my child from Fifth’s disease?

A: Unlike measles and rubella, there’s no vaccination for Fifth disease yet. Keeping your child home during a known outbreak at daycare or school might keep your child from contracting it, but preventing it otherwise is difficult. Many kids are exposed to Fifth disease and other infections and develop immunity without ever having symptoms of the disease itself.

Q: Who should be especially careful around someone with Fifth disease?

A: While most people experience only mild symptoms, children or adults with compromised immune systems or blood disorders, or women who are pregnant, should take extra care to avoid being around someone with Fifth disease. And they should see their doctor if they believe they have been exposed.

Older children and adults with Fifth disease may experience more joint stiffness than younger children, but this goes away within weeks.

This week I have been waging my annual winter battle with chapped winter skin! While my trouble spots are my hands and feet…I remember when my kids were little every winter I battled what I call “winter cheeks.” Chapped, red, sometimes raw skin that made them look like they’d been slapped or sunburned, or both!

Winter is pretty brutal where we live. Not only cold, but very, very dry! The two combine to play havoc with our skin. I’ve tried everything under the sun to combat it….including endless tubes of chapstick. As a matter of fact, we have an entire basket in our medicine cabinet devoted just to tubes of chapstick. Unfortunately, they really don’t do much for healing chapped “winter cheeks” or chapped skin in general.

So yesterday I got what I thought was a brilliant idea! I decided to take all those useless tubes of chapstick we have in our house and refill them with my OWN version of “chapstick”, using all-natural ingredients, including soothing Lavender essential oil.

I started with my All-Purpose Healing Salve and tweaked it to make it solid enough to use in a stick form. Here is the recipe I came up with:

“Winter Cheeks” Stick

  • 1/4 cup organic coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons beeswax pastilles
  • 20 drops Lavender essential oil

I could have added other essential oils to this formula…but I really believe in the restorative healing powers of Lavender all by itself. (Be sure you are buying pure, undiluted Lavender.)

And if you are new to essential oils…Lavender is a great one to start with. Not only does Lavender soothe and heal damaged skin, it’s really like a ‘first aid kit in a bottle.’

Directions:

Melt the coconut, olive oil and beeswax in a warm bath, stirring every few minutes until melted. This will take at least 15 min, you want a slow melt.

After the oils & wax are completely melted, add the Lavender essential oil and stir.

Using a pipette (or whatever means you can to pour the liquid into the tubes) carefully fill the tubes with the melted liquid. Allow to cool until hardened.

This batch yielded 8 tubes, one small tin, and a 1 ounce jar (not shown) of my “Winter Cheeks” formula.

Now tuck one in your bag, your kids’ bags, your desk, your medicine cabinet, etc and you will be ready whenever winter starts to get the better of your skin. Now if I could just figure out what to do with a bunch of unused chapstick?? 🙂

What essential oils do I use? Have a question about essential oils? Curious about what brand of essential oils I prefer? Find the answers in my Essential Oils FAQ! I may include affiliate links to products sold by others, but only when they are relevant and helpful. I always offer my own genuine recommendation. Learn more.

Hi, I’m Jillee!

I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I’ve been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!

Every day I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

Categories

Beauty Skincare

Home Remedies for Dry Patches of Skin on a Baby’s Face

A baby’s skin is more susceptible to dryness than an adult’s because it is more delicate. You may find that your baby develops patches of dry skin on his face when exposed to extremes of temperature, such as cold in the winter and heat in the summer. Additionally, indoor heating, air conditioning, swimming pool chlorine and salt water can all dry out an infant’s sensitive skin.

Cut Back on Bath Time

Water strips the skin of its natural oils, so one way to treat dry patches of skin on your baby’s face is to keep washing to a minimum. Use warm water instead of hot to wash your baby’s face alongside a fragrance-free, soap-free cleanser. If your baby is prone to dry patches on skin elsewhere on her body, keep her baths short. A few minutes is enough.

Apply Lots of Moisturizer

Pat your baby’s skin dry as soon as you take her out of the bath and quickly apply moisturizer to her dry patches to seal in the moisture on her skin from the water. Two of the best moisturizers for a baby’s dry skin are petroleum jelly and aloe vera, says KidsHealth. Petroleum jelly helps lock in moisture and rehydrate the skin. After washing and gently patting dry your baby’s face, apply a very thin layer to the dry patches. Leave it to absorb into the skin and work its magic. Aloe vera gel’s natural moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties also help to rehydrate a baby’s dry skin. Apply the gel to the affected parts of your baby’s skin and leave it to soak in completely. Repeat this process at least twice a day, or as often as necessary.

Create an Oatmeal Facial Wash

Oats, known for their soothing properties, have been used for centuries to treat eczema and other dry skin conditions. KidsHealth suggests creating an oatmeal facial wash to help treat your baby’s dry skin. Blend 1 cup of rolled oats in a food processor until it is a powder. Add it to a basin of warm water and mix until the water turns milky. Soak a clean face cloth in the water and gently place it on the dry patches of skin on your baby’s face. Take care to avoid his eyes, nose and mouth.

Treat the Skin with Care

Your baby’s skin must be treated with extreme care to help minimize any pain or discomfort caused by the dry patches. Keep your baby’s fingernails trimmed so she doesn’t scratch the dry patches. Soak a clean face cloth in cool water to create a compress to apply to the skin to ease itching. Avoid all possible irritants, such as lotions and moisturizers containing alcohol and clothes made from rough materials such as wool. Keep your baby’s room temperature no higher than 65 degrees Fahrenheit to stop her overheating, which can exacerbate the dryness.

My baby’s skin is dry. Should I cut down on her baths?

It’s fine to carry on bathing your newborn. However, unless her skin is dry due to atopic eczema, she won’t need a bath every day. You could try cutting back to two or three times a week.
You can help to ease your baby’s dryness by adding an emollient to the water when you do bath her.
Emollients are skin softeners or smoothers that help your baby’s skin to hold in water. They moisturise dry skin, reduce scaling, soften cracks in the skin and reduce itching. Daily emollient baths are an important treatment for babies with atopic eczema.
Your newborn’s skin is thinner than yours. Her skin can absorb and lose moisture more quickly, making it prone to dryness. When your baby was still in your womb, her skin was protected by a waxy substance called vernix.
After your baby was born, the vernix cleared from her skin, perhaps just remaining in the creases around her joints for the first few days.
With her skin exposed to the world and washed daily, your baby may develop dry patches here and there. Many new babies have this dryness, and it doesn’t mean they have eczema.

However, if you or your partner has eczema, bear in mind that atopic eczema is an inherited condition. So it’s particularly important to help your baby’s skin work well as a barrier. Ask your health visitor or GP to check whether or not the dry patches on your baby’s skin are atopic eczema. Making sure you get the right treatment for eczema will make it easier to control flare ups in your baby’s skin.
Whatever your family history, do protect your baby’s skin from drying any further, so that the dryness doesn’t develop into a skin problem. If you and your baby enjoy bathtime, adding a baby emollient should help to protect your baby’s skin barrier. That’s particularly true if you live in a hard water area.
Bath emollients are designed to protect your baby’s skin while gently cleansing and moisturising it. There will be no suds or bubbles, as there are with detergents, but this does not mean your baby’s skin will not be cleansed.
Check the packaging to see how much emollient you should put in. Pour the correct amount under the running tap. Or, once you have prepared your baby’s bath, pour some emollient into the water, and swirl it around with your hands.
You will notice that the emollient disperses in the water, rather than forming oily patches on the surface. The water will turn white and cloudy, and will be unscented.
You can then gently lower your baby into the bath water. All you need to do is to let her kick around in the water for as long as you both enjoy it. Make sure all parts of your baby’s body, apart from her face, are covered by the water.

Be warned that bath emollients can make your baby very slippery. So keep a gentle but secure grip on your baby while she’s in the water. There are bath supports that may help you to hold your baby more securely, such as bath hammocks, mats or foam inserts.
Remember that while bath supports are helpful, never leave your baby alone in one, not even for a second. Babies can drown silently in just 5cm (2in) of water.
How do I bath my baby? Find out the best way to bath your baby with our “how to” video.More baby videos
You may feel happier if you have someone to help you at bathtimes, especially if your baby is a bit of a slippery eel!
Once you have finished bathing your baby, holding her securely, lift her out and wrap her in a warm, dry towel. Pat her skin dry rather than rubbing with the towel. Scrubbing or rubbing your baby’s skin can damage the delicate layers of her skin.
Bath her in water with emollient added as often as you think it’s necessary. Keep an eye on the condition of her skin, and take her back to see your doctor if using emollients doesn’t seem to be working.
You can use a baby moisturiser, medical emollient cream or lotion after the bath, if you wish. This “soak-and-seal” approach is particularly recommended for dry skin conditions.
Applying an emollient cream all over your baby’s body as often as needed may also prevent her dry skin developing into eczema.
Get advice on choosing the right skincare products for your baby. Last reviewed: May 2018

How To Care For Newborn Dry Skin

You only just got home from the hospital, and already your little one is developing newborn dry skin. What’s going on? Is it something you did? Could this have been prevented? The experts at Mustela are here to put your mind at ease and tell you everything you need to know to keep your baby happy, healthy, and comfortable during those first few days, weeks, and months.

In this article, we’ll answer the following questions:

  • What is newborn dry skin?
  • What causes newborn dry skin?
  • Can you prevent newborn dry skin?
  • Is newborn dry skin permanent?

We’ll also give you 10 tips to help you care for your newborn’s dry skin.

What Is Newborn Dry Skin?

Newborn babies get dry skin just like older children and adults. In fact, your little one’s skin may develop dry, flaky patches with a few hours after birth. Newborns are especially susceptible to dry skin because their skin is so delicate.

What Causes Newborn Dry Skin?

One of the most common causes of newborn dry skin is your baby’s body adjusting to life outside the womb. Your little one lived in liquid for the past nine months, so their skin cells were not able to flake off like yours do. Now that your newborn has come into the world, their skin is making up for lost time by shedding off its top layer. As you may have guessed, this process presents itself as dry, flaky skin.

Another cause of newborn dry skin is your baby’s body adjusting to new hormones. For nine months, your little one relied on your hormones. Now your baby’s body has to start producing its own hormones. The change in hormone quantity and concentration often leads to newborn dry skin. In fact, you may have developed dry skin while you were pregnant because of a similar process.

Is Newborn Dry Skin Permanent?

No, newborn dry skin is not permanent. Unless your child has inherited atopic-prone skin (eczema) from you or your partner, your newborn’s dry skin will eventually disappear. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore the problem and just wait for it to go away. Newborn dry skin can be itchy and uncomfortable and, if not properly cared for, can even develop an infection.

Can You Prevent Newborn Dry Skin?

The simple answer is no, you cannot prevent newborn dry skin. Because your newborn’s dry skin is the result of your baby’s body adjusting to a new environment, there’s not much you can do to stop it from happening. Your baby’s body simply needs time to adapt. You can, however, keep your baby comfortable while it’s happening and ensure that it doesn’t get worse by following the tips listed below.

1) Moisturize Your Baby’s Skin

Applying a moisturizer is one of the most important steps you can take to care for your newborn’s dry skin. Moisturizers like Mustela’s Nourishing Cream With Cold Cream and Nourishing Lotion With Cold Cream are designed to lock moisture into your little one’s skin and prevent it from evaporating. This helps to keep your baby’s skin soft and supple and reduce itching.

We recommend applying a moisturizer at least twice per day: once during the day and once after bath time. If your baby’s skin looks and feels dry even with two applications per day, don’t be afraid to add a third or fourth. And for busy parents and babies on the go, pack Mustela’s Hydra-Stick with Cold Cream in your diaper bag.

2) Dress Your Newborn In Loose, Soft Fabrics

Dress your newborn in loose, soft fabrics to prevent their dry skin from becoming more irritated. Even well-moisturized skin can react badly to tight, rough fabrics. It is vital to choose: clothing, blankets, sheets, and even plush toys that won’t cause friction on your baby’s delicate skin.

3) Protect Dry Skin During Bath Time

Even if your baby doesn’t suffer from newborn dry skin, bath time can cause your little one’s skin to develop itchy, flaky patches. Luckily, you can protect your baby’s skin during bath time by remembering three simple rules:

  1. Fill the tub with lukewarm water.
  2. Keep baths short (around 10 minutes).
  3. Use the right bath products.

It’s this last point that can make the biggest difference. We recommend adding Mustela’s Bath Oil to your baby’s bath water to prevent dissolved salts and chlorine from drying out your baby’s skin. Once your little one is in the bath, gently wash them with Mustela’s Nourishing Cleansing Gel With Cold Cream to preserve their tender skin.

4) Add Moisture To The Air

If the air in your home is dry, add moisture by running a vaporizer or humidifier. The extra moisture in the air will prevent the moisture in your baby’s skin from evaporating too quickly. For warm moisture, a vaporizer works best. For cool moisture, we suggest purchasing a humidifier.

5) Prevent Dryness In Your Baby’s Diaper Area

Your baby’s diaper area is especially susceptible to dry skin because of all the activity going on down there. You can care for your baby’s diaper area by using gentle products with natural ingredients like:

  • Mustela’s Diaper Rash Cream 1 2 3.
  • Mustela’s Liniment.
  • Mustela’s Stelatopia Cleansing Wipes.

All of Mustela’s products are clinically tested to be hypoallergenic and safe for use on newborns, babies, and children alike.

6) Keep Your Newborn Hydrated

Whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, you can care for your newborn’s dry skin by keeping your little one well hydrated. The liquids your baby drinks will provide moisture from the inside out, while the moisturizer you apply twice per day will help keep the hydration from evaporating out of your baby’s skin.

7) Keep Your Baby Clean & Comfortable Between Bath Times

Dirt, dust, and pet dander can irritate your baby’s dry skin, so it’s vital that you keep your little one clean and comfortable between bath times with a cleansing product that won’t further dry out their skin. We recommend Mustela’s Cleansing Milk. It can be used to gently cleanse your baby’s face, body, hands, and diaper area without aggravating your little one’s sensitive skin.

8) Protect Your Baby From The Elements

Low temperatures, high temperatures, wind, and the sun can all make your baby’s dry skin worse. Protect your baby’s skin from the elements in the winter by covering your little one’s hands and head with gloves and hat. And whether it’s winter, spring, summer, or fall, you’ll need to protect your baby’s skin from the sun’s UV rays, which can further dry out your newborn’s skin.

That’s why it’s essential to protect your baby’s tender skin year-round with Mustela’s SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Lotion. This gentle, fragrance-free sunscreen provides safe and effective sun protection for your newborn’s face and body.

9) Clip Your Baby’s Nails

Clip your baby’s fingernails to prevent your little one from scratching themselves and making their dry skin worse. Dry skin is uncomfortable, and even adults (who should know better) can give in to scratching these flaky areas once in a while. Your baby has none of the self-control that you do and may even scratch without meaning to.

That’s why it’s so important to keep your baby’s fingernails clipped to prevent intentional and accidental scratching. If you see red marks on your baby’s skin, even after clipping their fingernails, try putting some baby mittens on your little one’s hands.

10) Avoid Products That May Aggravate Already Dry Skin

To protect your baby’s sensitive skin, we recommend avoiding products that may aggravate it. Be on the lookout for:

  • Powder-based products like talc and baby powder.
  • Products that contain alcohol.
  • Essential oils and products that contain essential oils.

Caring For Your Newborn’s Dry Skin Does Not Have To Be Difficult

Don’t let your newborn’s dry skin make your little one uncomfortable. Simply follow the tips above to keep your baby happy and healthy. With a bit of extra care, your newborn’s dry skin will quickly become a thing of the past.

Treating dry skin conditions in children and babies

Key learning points:

  • Dry skin in children is very common
  • Emollients are first-line therapy for all dry skin symptoms and chronic skin conditions
  • Primary care nurses have a role in recognising dry skin symptoms

Dry skin in children is due to developmental, environmental and pathological reasons. It may be transient, but for many children with a chronic inflammatory skin condition it will be a daily occurrence. Primary care nurses can recognise dry skin and give parents and carers correct advice.

Identifying dry skin conditions

Skin develops from 20 weeks gestation and in the first year, as skin is still developing, there are distinct differences between infant and adult skin. The stratum cornuem is up to 30% thinner in infants and has a higher rate of trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), which reduces barrier integrity, resulting in dry skin.1 Infant skin has a higher pH (6.34-7.5). Mild inflammation is normal in infants and seen in transient infant skin conditions, eg toxic erythema.2 Atopic eczema in infants is also very common – 60% of all children with atopic eczema develop it in the first six months of life.3

Skin barrier dysfunction is likely to be central to the evolution of allergic responses, including food allergy in atopic patients with relevant environmental exposure.4 In infants, eczema usually develops on the face, where it can be severe, often wet and weepy (sometimes infected); and generalised in patches on the body. Often the nappy area is spared.5

The following are the most common dry skin conditions found in children.

Seborrhoeic dermatitis

Seborrhoeic dermatitis causes flaking, scaling and inflammation without itch. In infants, it presents as ‘cradle cap’, but the nappy area and flexures can be affected. This is usually a developmental condition due to overactivity of the sebum glands between three to eight months, when it disappears.6 The distinction between atopic and seborrhoeic eczema is not clear, and a recent study found that a higher number of infants with seborrhoeic dermatitis developed atopic eczema within a short space of time.7

Atopic eczema is a complex interaction between the environment and genes, with skin barrier and local systemic immune deregulation.8 The cardinal symptom of eczema is itch exacerbated by dry skin, which results in an itch-scratch-damage cycle, leading to ‘eczema flares’ of inflammation, weeping and crusting, often complicated by bacterial infection.5 Allergens and environmental allergies are related to all atopic conditions. An overactive immune response to environmental factors contributes to eczema flares.5

Keratosis pilaris

Keratosis pilaris is an epidermal disorder of skin kerinisation affecting the follicles, causing dry rough skin and a ‘goose bump’ texture. It is very common, developing in childhood, generally on the extensor surfaces of the upper arms, and it can worsen around puberty.9

Ichthyosis

There are several types of the genetic condition ichthyosis, which causes extremely dry, scaly and fissured skin. It is a life-long condition caused by genetic mutations in the epidermis and the most common type is ichthyosis vulgaris. The severity and extent of ichthyosis varies widely from mild dryness to extensive areas of thickened skin and scaling over the body, arms, legs and face. Palms and soles may be particularly thickened and cracked, and the scalp may shed scales like heavy dandruff.10

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is less common in children than adults, but around one-third of people with psoriasis will start developing symptoms before the age of 15.11 Psoriasis is a group of chronic, inflammatory and proliferative conditions of the skin with systemic manifestations in many organ systems. The skin lesions are red, scaly, sharply demarcated plaques, particularly over extensor skin surfaces and the scalp. Guttate psoriasis is more common in children and young adults and presents as a shower of small dry lesions diffusely over the body, often precipitated by a streptococcus pharyngitis in 60% of cases.12

Irritant dermatitis

Irritant dermatitis and dry skin can occur in all children, due to over-washing with soap and cleansers. Over-washing causes the pH of the skin to change. Water alone has a neutral pH of 7 and soaps are alkalis pH 7-12, which damage the skin barrier function and leave irritating carbonate acids on skin. Sebum is removed, facilitating TEWL and making the skin more permeable to chemicals, leading to dermatitis. Over-washing alters normal microbiome and dry skin is more prone to skin infection, for example Staphylococcus aureus resulting in impetigo.13

The skin barrier is easily compromised by the winter climate due to environmental (central heating, lack of humidity) and climatic factors (freezing temperatures, wind chill) causing dry skin, known as ‘winter skin’.14 When skin is dry, the skin barrier becomes less effective as decreased levels of natural moisturising factors (NMFs) in the skin lead to a reduction in the water-retaining capacity of the skin, shrinking and opening cracks, allowing for the penetration of irritants and allergies.15 In the summer months, dry skin can also be caused post sunburn or by irritation from sweating and swimming.

Lip-lick chelitis is a sucking irritant dermatitis, caused by dry skin on the lips and around the mouth. Lip-licking quickly becomes habit forming and can result in secondary infection. It can also be caused by dribbling, thumb sucking or as a direct result of chapping, especially in the winter.5

Risk factors and impact

All children will experience dry skin. Primary care nurses need to be vigilant in the early recognition of dry skin, and consider whether it is a transient symptom or the first sign of a chronic skin condition. The risk factors for children developing a chronic skin condition are high; 20% of children in the UK have atopic eczema,3 ichthyosis vulgaris can affect one in 250 children10 and the prevalence of psoriasis in children is 3–4%.12

The impact of dry skin symptoms and conditions on the child and family should not be underestimated. For example, in atopic eczema, quality of life can be affected. Sleep deprivation leads to tiredness, mood changes and impaired psychosocial functioning of the child and family, particularly at school and work. Embarrassment, comments, teasing and bullying frequently cause social isolation and may lead to depression or school avoidance. The child’s lifestyle is often limited, particularly in respect to clothing, holidays, staying with friends, owning pets, swimming or the ability to play or do sports.16

Latest treatment for dry skin conditions

  • Oils in infant skin care

Olive oil is often a traditional choice in assisting baby massage (and for treating cradle cap), but there is evidence that high concentrations of oleic acid found in olive oil significantly damage the skin barrier and have the potential to both exacerbate existing problems and promote the development of atopic eczema.17 Using olive or sunflower oil on newborn babies’ skin damages the barrier that prevents water loss and blocks allergens and infections,18 but paraffin-based mineral oils have been found to be acceptable and not damaging to the skin barrier. Therefore, it would be prudent to avoid oils and use paraffin oil or emollients for managing cradle cap in infants with atopic eczema or a family history of atopy.

  • Complete emollient therapy

Emollient therapy is an evolving area in terms of the increased understanding of the normal and abnormal skin barrier causing dry skin symptoms and new products representing more choice for patients. Dry skin symptoms in children should be treated first line with complete emollient therapy – the most important treatment for all dry skin diseases.19 Everything that goes on the skin should be emollient based and all soaps, detergents and skin products should be replaced with emollient wash, bath and shower products.19 Emollients treat dry skin by providing a surface film of lipids, increasing water in the stratum corneum, which restores barrier function, and helps prevent the entry of environmental agents or triggers.19 Emollients soften the skin and reduce itch; used regularly to maintain skin hydration, they can reduce the frequency of flare-ups. Leave-on emollients may be lotions, creams, ointments or gels; they have either occlusive or additional humectant action. Emollients with occlusive effects trap water within the stratum corneum and reduce epidermal water loss. This effect may last for a few hours with emollient creams or longer with grease-based emollients.19

  • Bathing and washing

Daily baths are recommended for children with atopic eczema, as dry skin requires hydration. Daily baths should be followed by moisturiser, along with gentle drying by patting, and the immediate application of a moisturiser to ‘seal’ in moisture. This process is known as ‘soak and smear’.20 Leave-on emollients can be used for washing (as soap substitutes) and applied after washing.

  • Humectant emollients

Humectant-containing emollients are the latest range of leave-on emollient products. Humectant emollients have been shown to prevent TEWL for considerably longer than simple emollients. Some emollients also contain povidone, which leaves a microscopic membrane on the surface of the skin and extends the TEWL effect to at least 12 hours.21

  • Ceramides

Newer emollients may contain ceramides, which are fats found naturally in the cell membrane of most living tissue and serve as part of the ‘glue’ that holds surface skin cells together. The skin’s ceramide levels naturally deplete with time, and with environmental exposures this may result in the skin becoming weakened and more sensitive to irritants such as detergents and environmental factors. People who have eczema or dry, irritated and sensitive skin have significantly fewer ceramides in their stratum corneum. Ceramides have been shown to be effective in reducing disease duration, symptoms and time to clearance.22

Conclusion

Dry skin is an uncomfortable and often distressing symptom with a variety of causes. It may be transient, but for many infants and children, a chronic inflammatory skin condition with dry skin symptoms will need to be managed on a daily basis. Primary care nurses can support their patients by recognising dry skin in infants and children, giving parents and carers correct advice, directing them to reputable information sources and ensuring their advice is evidence based and up to date.

Resources for patients

bad.org.uk/for-the-public British Association of Dermatology

britishskinfoundation.org.uk/Skinformation.aspx British Skin Foundation

ichthyosis.org.uk Ichthoysis patient support group

eczema.org National Eczema Society (NES) patient support group

psoriasis-association.org.uk The Psoriasis Association (PA) patient support group

1. Telofski S, Morello AP, MackCorrea MC et al. The infant skin barrier: can we preserve, protect, and enhance the barrier? Dermatology Research and Practice 2012; Article ID 198789.

2. Dyer J. New born skin. Seminars in Perinatology 2013;37:3-7.

3. Schofield J, Grindlay D, Williams H. Skin Conditions in the UK: a Health Care Needs Assessment. Centre of Evidence-Based Dermatology, University of Nottingham 2009;6:85-8.

4. Shaker M. New insights into the allergic march. Current Opinions in Paediatrics 2014;26:516-20.

7. Alexopoulos A, Kakourou T, Orfanou I et al. Retrospective analysis of the relationship between infantile seborrhoeic dermatitis and atopic dermatitis. Paediatric Dermatology 2014;31:125-30.

8. Irvine AD, McLean WH, Leung DY. Filaggrin mutations associated with skin and allergic diseases. New England Journal of Medicine 2011;365:1315–27.

9. Poskitt L, Wilkinson JD. Natural history of keratosis pilaris. British Journal of Dermatology 1994;130:711-13.

11. Tollefson MM, Crowson CS, McEvoy MT et al. Incidence of psoriasis in children: a population-based study. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 2010;62:979-87.

14. Oakley A. Dry Skin. Derm Net NZ 2015. Available at dermnetnz.org/topics/dry-skin/ (accessed 1 December 2016).

15. Cork MJ. The importance of skin barrier function. Journal of Dermatological Treatment 1997;8:suplt 4-7.

16. Lewis-Jones S. Quality of life and childhood atopic dermatitis: the misery of living with childhood eczema. International Journal of Clinical Practice 2006;60:984-92.

17. Danby SG, Al Enezi T, Sultan A et al. Effect of olive and sunflower oil on the adult skin barrier: implications for neonatal skin. Paediatric Dermatology 2013;30:42-50.

18. Olive Oil, Sunflower Oil or no Oil for Baby Dry Skin or Massage: A Pilot Assessor-blinded, Randomized Controlled Trial (the Oil in Baby SkincaRE Study)’. Acta Dermato-Venereologica 2016;96: 323-30.

19. Cork MJ, Danby S. Skin barrier breakdown: a renaissance in emollient therapy. British Journal of Nursing 2009;18:872-7.

20. Assarian Z, O’Brien TJ, Nixon R. Soak and smear: an effective treatment for eczematous dermatoses. Australasia Journal of Dermatology 2015;56:215.

21. Moncrieff G, Van Onselen J, Young T. The role of managing emollients in skin integrity. Wounds UK 2015;11:72-6.

22. Draelos ZD. The effect of ceramide-containing skin care products on eczema resolution duration. Cutis 2008;81:87-91.

What Causes Dry Scalp in Babies, and How’s It Treated?

Once you’ve identified the cause of your baby’s dry scalp, it’s usually treatable at home.

Adjust your shampoo schedule

Shampooing your baby’s hair not only removes dirt and oil from their delicate strands, but it helps remove excess dirt and oil from their scalp, too. The amount of times you shampoo your baby’s scalp can vary based on their condition, though.

For cradle cap, shampooing daily can help remove oil and loosen the flakes on your baby’s scalp. All other causes of dry scalp may benefit from shampooing every other day to avoid excess dryness.

Use medicated shampoo

If adjusting the frequency of shampooing doesn’t help, you may want to try an over-the-counter medicated shampoo. Look for one that’s specifically formulated for babies.

For dandruff and eczema, look for anti-dandruff shampoos containing pyrithione zinc or selenium sulfide. More stubborn patches related to cradle cap may require stronger anti-dandruff shampoos, such as those containing tar or salicylic acid. Your baby’s doctor or a pharmacist can tell you which shampoo is best.

No matter which medicated shampoo you choose, the key is to leave the shampoo on your baby’s scalp for a minimum of two minutes. For cradle cap, you may need to repeat the process.

Use the medicated shampoo two to seven days per week until symptoms improve, or as directed on the packaging. It may take up to one month for symptoms to clear up.

Try mineral oil

Mineral oil is thought to help loosen stuck-on flakes left on the scalp and help reduce symptoms of cradle cap. Although it’s a common home remedy, mineral oil hasn’t been proven to help.

If you want to try mineral oil, gently massage the oil onto your baby’s scalp before shampooing. For extra benefits, run a comb over the scalp to loosen the flakes. Let the oil soak in for a few minutes before rinsing off.

You can repeat this process for cradle cap before each shampoo session. As the flakes start to improve, you can reduce the frequency.

The key is to make sure you completely wash all the oil away. Excess oil left on the scalp could make cradle cap worse.

Massage on olive oil

If your baby has dandruff or eczema, you may consider an olive oil scalp massage instead of mineral oil. Use the same process as above, and be sure to rinse thoroughly.

Apply hydrocortisone cream

Hydrocortisone cream is available over the counter. It may help alleviate redness, inflammation, and itchiness. While it can help scalp eczema, it won’t necessarily help cradle cap or everyday dandruff buildup.

Talk to your baby’s doctor before trying this method. Hydrocortisone cream is generally safe for babies if not used long term.

Apply hydrocortisone to your baby’s scalp after shampooing and drying their hair. You can reapply one to two times per day as needed, or as recommended by your baby’s pediatrician.

If eczema is causing the dryness, hydrocortisone cream may improve symptoms within a week.

The Best Ways To Treat Your Baby’s Skin Rash: Your Complete Guide

When you first notice a rash on your baby’s skin, your thoughts immediately leap to the worst possible causes. But often, the rash you see is just a normal part of being a newborn. So before you begin to panic, let the experts at Mustela calm your nerves and show you the best way to treat your baby’s skin rash.

1) Identify The Rash

The first step in treating your baby’s rash is identification. Rashes come in all shapes and sizes, but putting a name to the irritation tells you a lot about how to deal with it.

Here are some of the most common rashes for newborns and infants. After we describe the rashes, we’ll talk more about how to treat them.

Acne

Neonatal acne looks like small red bumps on your baby’s skin. It’s similar to adult acne, but it doesn’t usually progress to the whitehead or blackhead stages. Baby acne can take the form of just one or two bumps over a wide area, or it can present as a large number of bumps in a small area.

Baby acne is thought to be the result of exposure to maternal hormones in the womb (and possibly through breastfeeding). Don’t let that change your breastfeeding habits, though. As you’ll see in the treatment section, baby acne will work itself out.

For a more detailed discussion about baby acne, be sure to check out our article How To Treat & Prevent Baby Acne.

Dry, Flaky Or Peeling Skin

Dry, flaky or peeling skin is very common in newborns and infants. This type of rash looks similar to dry, flaky skin in children and adults.

If your baby’s skin is extra dry, it can become irritated and turn red, swollen, and warm to the touch. Dry skin can manifest during the first year of your baby’s life and any time thereafter, depending on their skin type and environment.

Milia

Milia are small white bumps on your baby’s nose and face that look similar to the whitehead acne that forms on children and adults. Milia are caused by blocked oil glands deep within your baby’s skin.

At first, those bumps may persist despite your best efforts. Don’t worry. As your baby’s oil glands grow and their pores open over the first few days and weeks of life, the white bumps will be easier to treat.

Cradle Cap

Cradle cap can develop after the first month or two of your baby’s life. It manifests as red, irritated skin with a greasy, yellowish crust on top. While it most often forms on a baby’s scalp (which is why it’s referred to as a “cap”), it can also appear on or spread to your little one’s face, neck, armpits, and ears.

Eczema

Eczema looks like red, swollen, itchy patches on your baby’s skin. Depending on your little one’s age, it can appear on their chest, legs, knees, arms, elbows, and face. Eczema is caused by a thin, or nonexistent, protective layer (hydrolipidic barrier) on your baby’s skin. This results in dry, sensitive skin that reacts to environmental triggers like dust, scratchy clothing, and pet dander.

Prickly Heat

Prickly heat, also known as heat rash, looks like small red bumps and can be easily confused with baby acne. Prickly heat, though, develops on areas of your baby’s body that are prone to overheating and sweating. Parts of the body like his neck, armpits, and diaper area are prime candidates for prickly heat.

Diaper Rash

Diaper rash is the general term for any skin irritation that develops in your baby’s diaper area. Causes can vary from allergic reactions to skin infections to stress (like during teething), but the most common cause is simply your baby’s sensitive skin not getting enough air.

Hives

Hives are relatively easy to identify because it’s the only baby skin rash that causes red welts on the surface of your baby’s skin. Hives often look similar to mosquito bites: red or pink raised bumps, sometimes with a white-ish center.

Your little one’s hives can range in size from a quarter-inch all the way up to three inches in diameter. Hives are normally circular in shape, but they may also be ovals.

Sunburn

Sunburn is one skin condition that doesn’t need much of an introduction! We are all familiar with sunburn. But it’s worth noting that newborns and young infants are especially sensitive to the sun’s UV rays. That’s why it’s so important to keep your little one protected from the sun.

This is in no way an exhaustive list of skin rashes that can affect your little one. If you have any questions or concerns about a rash that has formed on your baby’s body, always consult a physician.

If the rash forms without other symptoms (see the last section for details), you can usually treat your baby at home. If the rash persists for more than a week despite treatment, see a doctor. You may need a stronger remedy.

Now let’s turn our attention back to the best ways to treat your baby’s skin rash.

2) Keep Your Baby Comfortable

Keeping your baby comfortable is an important step on the road to rash prevention and recovery. Tight, red, swollen, and itchy skin can make your baby (and you) unhappy and make it difficult for them to sleep and feed.

Here are some effective tips for keeping your little one comfortable while you treat their baby skin rash.

Dress Your Baby In Loose Clothing

When a rash forms on your baby’s torso (below the neck), it’s a good idea to dress him in loose-fitting clothing (or no clothing at all if the temperature allows it). This will keep the clothing from rubbing the already tender skin and can keep your baby from getting further overheated.

Avoid Irritating Your Baby’s Skin Rash

This may seem somewhat obvious, but your baby will be much more comfortable if you don’t irritate their skin rash. How can you avoid bothering your little one’s rash? Follow these tips:

  • Keep your baby out of direct sunlight, as the sun’s UV rays can cause dryness and further irritate the rash.
  • Be extremely gentle with the affected area of your baby’s skin, and don’t rub, stretch, or scratch the rash itself.
  • Always use gentle cleansers when bathing your baby, and apply baby-friendly soothing creams and lotions to keep your little one’s skin moisturized.

These three basic steps will go a long way toward keeping your baby comfortable while they recover from their skin rash.

Give Your Baby A Warm Bath

Another great way to keep your baby comfortable during a rash outbreak is to let him soak or play in the tub. The water will soothe and cool hot, dry skin. You can even help the rash heal by adding a bath product like Mustela’s Stelatopia Bath Oil. These specially-formulated oils soothe and cool tight, swollen skin and make your baby feel good all over.

Apply A Cool Cloth To Your Baby’s Skin Rash

Rashes often cause your baby’s skin to feel dry, tight, itchy, or hot. That’s why applying a cool, damp cloth to your baby’s skin rash will comfort your little one. All you need to do is find a washcloth or rag, soak it in cold water, wring it out, and gently place it on your baby’s rash. This will provide instant, if only temporary, relief from the discomfort of the rash.

Give Your Baby A Small Dose Of Pain Relievers

For babies at the six-month mark or beyond, a tiny dose of ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help reduce the swelling of the baby rash and relieve pain. Ibuprofen is generally safe for children six months or older.

Acetaminophen has the same safety recommendation, except it can sometimes be approved for babies younger than six months. You should always consult your doctor before giving any medicines to your baby.

Give Your Baby Plenty Of Hugs And Kisses

This may not help your baby’s rash go away, but it will certainly make your little one feel more comfortable! There’s nothing that soothes a baby’s spirit quite like a mother’s touch. Hold your baby often and give them extra hugs and kisses to keep them comfy until the rash heals.

3) Treat The Rash

Here are some suggestions for treating the most common newborn and infant rashes.

Treating Baby Acne

As your baby’s body processes out, or gets used to, the maternal hormones that can cause acne, his rash will slowly fade away. But this can take weeks, and even months. Keep your baby’s skin clean and healthy using products like those offered by Mustela. We recommend:

  • No Rinse Cleansing Water
  • Soothing No Rinse Cleansing Water

These gentle products will keep irritated skin clean without irritating it further.

Treating Dry, Flaky Or Peeling Baby Skin

Dry skin is caused by a lack of moisture in your baby’s skin. The best thing you can do for this type of rash is to apply a hydrating cream with cold cream. We recommend Mustela’s Nourishing Cream with Cold Cream or Nourishing Lotion with Cold Cream. These healing products will keep dry, flaking skin from getting further irritated and infected.

Treating Baby Milia

As your baby’s body becomes accustomed to its new environment outside the womb, his skin will balance and normalize. This will often cause milia to clear up on its own. But you can prevent those white bumps from sticking around longer than they should by keeping your baby’s skin clean.

It would be great if he could spend all day in the bathtub, but that just isn’t possible. Instead, we suggest periodically using Mustela’s No-Rinse Soothing Cleansing Water. The gentle cleanser will soothe and disinfect your baby’s skin to help prevent more milia from forming.

Treating Cradle Cap

For an extensive discussion on cradle cap, see our article The 7 Best Ways To Prevent & Treat Cradle Cap. To treat this common skin condition, shampoo your baby’s scalp two or three times a week with products formulated to treat and prevent cradle cap, like Mustela’s Foam Shampoo For Newborns.

Treating Baby Eczema

The best treatment for baby eczema involves applying an emollient product like Mustela’s Stelatopia Emollient Cream or Emollient Balm a few times a day. Emollients form a protective layer over your baby’s skin to keep triggers from causing a breakout. To prevent skin irritation during bath time, we recommend adding a few drops of Stelatopia Bath Oil to the water.

Treating Prickly Heat

Prickly heat will often clear up on its own if you keep your baby’s skin cool. You can assist the healing process by bathing your child in cool water and patting his skin dry with a soft towel. The itchiness that results from prickly heat will most often be relieved once your baby’s skin cools down.

Treating Diaper Rash

Treatment for diaper rash involves keeping your baby’s skin dry and allowing it to breathe. That may mean going without clothes, or even a diaper, for a while.

You can also help resolve this uncomfortable problem by applying a healing cream to the affected areas. We suggest Mustela’s Liniment or Diaper Rash Cream 1-2-3 to clear up the diaper rash quickly.

Treating Hives

As hives are normally the result of an allergic reaction, the best thing you can do to treat your baby’s hives is to identify the allergen that caused the hives. This is often difficult, as your baby is young and being exposed to new allergens all the time. But it’s still worth a shot!

Here are some allergens that may be causing your baby’s hives:

  • A new skincare product, like a new body wash, shampoo, or lotion
  • A food or drink that you’ve recently introduced to your baby’s diet
  • Dander or hair from a household pet
  • Pollen from a nearby grass, bush, tree, or flower
  • A bite from an insect

If you’re able to identify the hive-causing culprit, eliminate it from your baby’s environment. If you’re not able to find out which allergen is causing your baby’s hives, simply keep your baby comfortable, administer small doses of antihistamine, and wait for the hives to go away.

In severe cases of hives, especially if your baby is wheezing or seems to have a hard time breathing, go to the nearest hospital ASAP.

Treating Sunburn

Treating your baby’s sunburn isn’t too different from how you would treat your own sunburn. First, keep your baby out of the sun and keep their skin covered with soft, loose-fitting clothing. Apply soothing ointments, such as an aloe vera gel or Mustela’s After Sun Lotion.

Keep your baby as comfortable as possible. This means cool baths, gentle cleansers, cold compresses, and soothing lotions. Finally, simply give the sunburn time to heal.

4) Consult A Doctor If…

Your Baby Is Struggling To Breathe

It is always a possibility that your baby’s skin rash is the result of an allergic reaction. Sometimes, allergic reactions can be severe. This severe variety of allergic reaction is called anaphylactic shock and can be life-threatening, requiring immediate medical attention.

If your baby is ever wheezing, struggling to inhale, or otherwise having trouble breathing, go to the nearest hospital immediately.

The Rash Occurs In Association With Other Symptoms

Such symptoms include:

  • Cough.
  • Fever.
  • Reduced appetite.
  • Lethargy.
  • Sneezing.

If you notice a rash erupt on your baby’s body and he exhibits one or more of the above symptoms, it could be a sign that there’s a larger problem at hand. Take your baby to the doctor as soon as possible.

If the rash appears by itself and does not come with any other symptoms, it’s likely just a rash. However, that doesn’t mean that you can disregard it completely. Keep an eye on the rash size, shape, and intensity, and see a doctor if it continues to spread despite treatment.

The Rash Develops Blisters Or Begins To Look Infected

Be on the lookout for any signs of infection including:

  • Blisters.
  • Opaque, yellowish fluid seepage.
  • Bleeding or dried blood.
  • Small, bright red or purple dots (petechiae) on top of the rash.

These can be an indication of a more serious viral or bacterial infection such as herpes. If any of these symptoms develop on your baby’s body, see a doctor as soon as possible.

The Rash Suddenly Appears All Over Your Baby’s Body

If your baby’s skin rash appears very suddenly and is present all over your baby’s body, it’s best to consult a physician. This may be a sign of a severe allergic reaction or a baby skin rash that needs medical attention.

Skin rashes on your baby can be scary, but we’ve got you covered. Simply follow the steps listed above to keep your baby happy, healthy, and comfortable.

Home remedies: What can relieve itchy eczema?

If you’ve tried numerous remedies and nothing seems to stop the itch, you’re not alone.

Parents often tell dermatologists that nothing they try seems to stop the itch. Research shows that the best way to relieve itchy eczema is to get eczema under control. This can take time.

In the interim, dermatologists recommend the following, which can bring some immediate — but temporary — relief from the itch.

Oatmeal bath

Adding colloidal oatmeal to your child’s bath can help relieve dry, itchy skin.

6 ways to relieve itchy eczema at home

  • Apply a cool compress to itchy skin.
  • To use this technique, you:

    • Soak a clean towel or washcloth in cool water.
    • Wring th

      e towel or washcloth until damp.

    • Apply the cool compress to the itchy skin.
    • After removing the compress, apply your child’s moisturizer to the skin you just treated with the compress.
    Telling your child to stop scratching itchy skin rarely works.

    Eczema is just too itchy, and telling your child to stop scratching can feel stressful. Stress often makes eczema worse.

  • Add colloidal oatmeal to your child’s bath:
  • You’ll find colloidal oatmeal at many places that sell health and beauty products. When you add this to your child’s bath, it helps relieve the dry, itchy skin.

      When using colloidal oatmeal, dermatologists recommend:

    • Add the colloidal oatmeal to the running lukewarm water.
    • Let your child soak for 10 to 15 minutes.
    • After the bath, gently dry your child, leaving enough water on the skin so that it feels damp.
    • Apply your child’s moisturizer within 3 minutes of bathing.
    Safety tips
    • Don’t let your child eat the finely ground oatmeal.

    • Colloidal oatmeal makes the bath very slippery, so take care to prevent a slip or fall.

  • Soak in a bath and smear on ointment:
  • After letting your child soak in a lukewarm bath, smear a thick layer of moisturizing ointment on all of your child’s skin. When the skin is very itchy, using an eczema friendly ointment like petroleum jelly provides more relief than a cream or lotion.

  • Distract your child:
  • Helping your child forget about the itch can be effective. Be sure not to mention the itch, just distract your child with a favorite activity. You can:

    • Play peek-a-boo
    • Feed your child a snack
    • Play with a toy
    • Tell a story
  • Calm a stressed child:
  • Research shows that stress can cause eczema to flare. Stress can also make skin itchier. If you feel stressed, your child often feels stressed. It’s important to find ways to reduce your stress, too.

  • Pinch skin near patch of itchy eczema:
  • Yes, a gentle pinch can actually reduce the itch. Just be sure to pinch skin without eczema.

    For teens and tweens: Children who are caring for their own skin can gently tap near the itchy eczema. Sounds odd, but this help reduce the itch.

    2 surprising ways parents make eczema itchier

    Some itch-relieving techniques that people use can make eczema itchier. To prevent this, dermatologists recommend that you avoid:

    1. Telling your child to stop scratching: This rarely works and can leave your child feeling stressed. Stress can cause eczema to flare.

    2. Using anti-itch products: This may seem strange, but anti-itch products often fail to relieve itchy eczema. To make matters worse, some contain ingredients that can cause eczema to flare. Only use an anti-itch product if your child’s dermatologist recommends on.

    Prevent skin damage caused by scratching

    Constant scratching can break the skin. To prevent bleeding and an infection, dermatologists recommend the following:

    1. Keep your child’s nails short: Checking nails after your child’s bath lets you know when the nails need trimming.

    2. Cover itchy skin: When skin is covered, children seem less likely to scratch. When dressing your child, be sure to:

      • Dress your child in lose-fitting clothes made from a soft, natural fiber-like cotton, a cotton blend, silk, or bamboo.

      • Consider using eczema mittens and eczema sleeves.

      Eczema mittens can be effective when eczema flares on your baby’s face. Your baby may still scratch, but the scratching will cause less damage because the fingernails cannot dig into the skin.

    Itch relief can be fickle

    You may find that a technique works one day and not the next. If one technique fails, try another.

    Additional related content

    • How can I find indoor eczema triggers?

    • How can I find eczema triggers on my child’s body?

    Eichenfield, LF, Tom WL, et al. “Part 2: Guidelines of care for the management and treatment of atopic dermatitis with topical therapies.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014 Jul;71(1):116-32.

    Sidbury R, Tom WL, et al. “Part 4: Guidelines of care for the management of atopic dermatitis. Part 4: Prevention of disease flares and use of adjunctive therapies and approaches.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014: 71(1);1218-33.

    All content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology

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