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Itchy, dry skin….what to do?

It’s that time of year when the heater can dry our home environment out a bit and your child has dry skin and seems itchy…Here are some helpful tips on home care and when you need to see your pediatrician.

Believe it or not, water exposure actually dries skin out, so as soon as your child is rinsed off from his or her bath or shower, apply a moisturizer. Lots of kids love spreading their own lotion on, but others scream and fuss at the thought of lotion. A great solution to the lotion-averse kid is to use a moisturizing oil instead. You can add a few drops of baby oil, olive oil, coconut oil or sesame oil (several readily available bath oils are actually sesame oil based) to a bath to help keep the skin a bit more moist. Then, after rinsing, before drying your child you can lube them up with any of the above oils. Then pat them dry and if they don’t mind the lotion, add that now as well.

Additionally, to help the skin stay hydrated the key is to apply the oil or lotion immediately after bathing. Make sure to apply a good moisturizing lotion (formulated without perfumes/scents) in-between baths as well.

Also remember to keep your child well hydrated and offer drinking water with each meal and in-between meals. Another helpful hint is to use a dye-free, perfume-free detergent on clothes and skip the fabric softener. Often times the added chemicals irritate dry skin. Try using some natural dryer balls in your clothes dryer to help soften and reduce static instead of the chemical fabric softeners.

If your child has drier patches of skin that are rough or pink, this may be a more severe form of dry skin known as eczema. Some eczema is worsened by allergies to certain foods, but other times there is no specific allergy making the skin irritated. At the first sign of eczema, apply an over the counter 1% hydrocortisone ointment (goes on clear as opposed to a white cream which may sting the already inflamed skin) twice per day. Then apply a lotion or moisturizing oil over top of the hydrocortisone to further hydrate. Usually after a few of days of diligent use, the 1% hydrocortisone has helped and the skin appears normal again. If this is not the case, it’s time to make a trip in to see your CPCMG pediatrician.