Dry Skin Weather is Just Around the Corner
Do you know how to protect your child's sensitive skin in the cool, dry months of fall and winter? Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, can be a very frustrating skin condition to deal with at this time of year. Here are some tips to remember if your child is one of the very many who suffer from dry, rashy skin around this time of year.
- Avoid excessive bathing. If the skin is really irritated, bathing once every two or three days is often enough. Just wash the dirty parts with a washcloth but avoid soaking in the tub - especially in soapy water. Water and soap remove the protective oils from the skin along with the dirt and grime. When those oils are removed, the skin becomes overly dry and irritated. The drying effects of winter's low humidity and indoor heat compound the problem.
- Once you have gotten beyond liquid baby soaps to bar soap, use a good moisturizing bar such as Dove®, Tone® or similar cleansing-cream type bars. Avoid adult deodorant soaps such as Dial®, Coast®, or Zest®. (Original Ivory® soap is too harsh; use the new Ivory moisturizing bar instead).
- Use a good moisturizing lotion after every bath/washing and don't be skimpy with it. Try to get the lotion applied within three minutes after the bath if at all possible - it soaks much deeper into the skin if you get it on while the skin is still soft from the bath. I recommend Moisturel® if you want a good lotion that isn't greasy. The brand probably is not really as important as the fact that you use it regularly, though. A really good nighttime treatment for the skin is plain old Vaseline® petroleum jelly - it really moisturises and softens hard, dry, rashy skin patches.
- If your child's skin starts getting really dry and irritated, you can stop soap and water bathing and switch to lotion baths. Get a big tub of Eucerin® cream or some Cetaphil® lotion and smear you kid from head to toe liberally, then wipe it off. This procedure gets them just as clean and does not damage the skin the way that soap and water do.
- Use 1% hydrocortisone cream liberally on the reddened areas of the rash. You can get 1% hydrocortisone cream over the counter as Cortaid®, Cortizone-10®, and a variety of other brands. They all work fine. If you don't get good results, let us know - you may need a stronger cream or ointment, and we may talk to you about tricks to make the medication work harder.
For a bit more information, see the entry in the Parents' Common Sense Encyclopedia.