Dealing with dry skin problems and conditions in children

Treatment for dry skin problems in children.

Dry skin
is a common problem in children, especially during the cold months of the year. Outdoor wind and indoor heat can dehydrate skin and children are especially susceptible due to the sensitivity of their young skin.

Home Remedies

For mild cases of dry skin in children, it is relatively simple to remedy the problem at home.

While traditionally some people believed bathing would dry out the skin, most medical professionals suggest it is not a problem. However, it is important to avoid harsh soaps when skin is dry or sensitive; instead use gentle and moisturizing cleansers. Bath water should not be overly hot as this may exacerbate the condition. Adding colloidal oatmeal to bathwater can help lubricate the skin and control itching. After a bath, it is also important to use moisturizer immediately to coat the skin and protect it. This locks in the moisture the skin has absorbed in the bathing process.

When selecting a moisturizer for dry skin, richer is better. Creams and ointments are generally better than lotions as they provide a heavier coating and do not wear off the skin as quickly. It is wise to use fragrance-free skin cleansers and moisturizing products as perfumes may irritate sensitive skin further. Also look for moisturizers that do not contain added color. In addition to moisturizing after bathing, reapply moisturizer several times a day.

If the air in your home is extremely dry, consider adjusting the environment. Running a humidifier can lessen the drying effects of winter heating and can add much needed water to the air. Place humidifiers in a location where your children spend much of their time such as their bedrooms or playroom.

It is important to prevent children from scratching dry skin, since this may worsen the condition and invite infection. Keep children’s fingernails clipped short to help prevent unconscious or nighttime scratching. Cotton gloves worn at night can also keep a child from scratching.

Make sure to dress your child in soft, loose clothing and use soft bedding. Rough or abrasive fabrics such as wool can aggravate the itching of dry skin. Wash fabrics in gentle, fragrance-free laundry detergents since the perfume residue can make skin conditions worse.


Severe itchy dryness with red scaly patches may be a sign of eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis. Eczema may also cause cracked or blistered patches of skin. It is not contagious. Eczema is common in children, affecting as many as 20%. Some eczema will respond to moisturizer treatments, but in more severe cases it may be necessary to apply anti-inflammatory creams or ointments, as well. Over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream can be used instead of moisturizer a couple of times a day, or as directed.

Prescription treatments

If your child’s skin condition does not improve, it may be necessary to visit a medical professional. It is possible for severely irritated skin to become infected, in which case prescription antibiotics are required. Infection is often marked by increased redness and tenderness or by sudden swelling. Doctors may also prescribe strong steroidal creams and other topical solutions in the case of extreme dryness that resists over-the-counter treatments. Your doctor will also evaluate the child for possible allergies or other conditions that may be affecting or causing the skin condition. For children under a year of age with extreme dry skin, it is also wise to consult a doctor before using any treatments other than a mild moisturizing cream.
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  • Re: Dealing with dry skin problems and conditions in children

    by » 12 years ago

    How to treat your child's dry skin


    Too much bathing and soap removes the skin's natural oils. This is the main cause of dry skin. Dry climates make it worse, as does winter weather ("winter itch"). Dry skin is less common in teenagers because their oil glands are more active.

    Dry, rough, bumpy skin on the back of the upper arms is called keratosis pilaris. Dry, pale spots on the face are called pityriasis alba. Both are complications of scrubbing dry skin with soap. The dry areas are often itchy, and this is the main symptom of dry skin.

    Cracked skin most commonly occurs on the soles of the feet, especially the heels and big toes (called juvenile plantar dermatosis). Deep cracks are painful and periodically bleed. The main cause is wearing wet shoes and socks or swimming a lot.

    Cracks can also develop on the hands of children who frequently wash dishes or suck their thumbs. Children who have the habit of licking their lips may get cracked (chapped) lips. Lips may also become chapped from excessive exposure to sun or wind.


    Soap and bathing

    * If your child has dry skin and is not yet a teenager, avoid all soaps, detergents, and bubble baths. They take the natural oils out of the skin. Have your child bathe or shower with plain water, perhaps twice a week. Don't let a bar of soap float around in the tub.
    * For teenagers buy a special soap for dry skin. Teenagers can get by with applying soap only to the armpits, genitals, and feet. Do not use any soap on itchy areas. Don't lather up (the skin of the outer arms often becomes dry for this reason). Rinse well.

    Lubricating cream for dry skin

    * Buy a large bottle of lubricating cream (special hand lotion). Apply the cream to any dry or itchy areas several times a day, especially after bathing. You will probably have to continue this throughout the winter. If the itch persists after 4 days, use 1% hydrocortisone cream (nonprescription) for a week.


    * If your winters are dry, run a room humidifier. If you have static electricity in your home, the air in your home is much too dry. During cold weather, your child should wear gloves outside to protect against the rapid evaporation of moisture from the hands.

    Bath oils

    * It does not make much sense to pour bath oils into the bathwater; most of the oil goes down the drain. It also makes the bathtub slippery and dangerous. If you prefer bath oil over hand lotion, apply it immediately after baths. Baby oil (mineral oil) is inexpensive and keeps skin moisture from evaporating.

    Ointments for cracked skin

    * Even deep cracks that have been a problem for years can be healed in about 2 weeks if they are constantly covered with an ointment (like petroleum jelly). If the crack seems mildly infected, use an antibiotic ointment (no prescription needed). Apply ointments four times a day. Covering the ointment with a Band-Aid, socks, or gloves speeds recovery even more. For chapped lips a lip balm can be applied frequently.


    * No improvement occurs within 2 weeks.
    * The cracks develop a yellow discharge (pus).
    * You have other concerns or questions.

  • Re: Dealing with dry skin problems and conditions in children

    by » 12 years ago

    What can help kids' dry skin?

    xpert answer

    Dry skin is a common problem in children, especially during the winter, when our bodies are exposed to dry air in the cold outdoors or heated indoor environments. It occurs when the skin lacks moisture and can be treated by returning moisture to the skin or preventing moisture from escaping the skin in the first place.

    Maintain skin's moisture. To prevent dry skin, make sure children eat a healthy, well-balanced diet with plenty of unsweetened beverages such as milk and water. Try also to avoid prolonged exposure to sun, cold air (since cold air does not hold moisture as well as warm air) or harsh winds, which can scratch or irritate a child's delicate skin. Consider using moisturizing soaps or cleansers, and apply lotions, creams or ointments to keep the skin soft and hydrated.

    For children who are prone to dry skin, the following practices may be helpful:

    Limit baths or showers to 2 or 3 times a week. While frequent contact with water may seem like a good way to treat dry skin, too much washing and scrubbing may actually strip the skin of its naturally protective oils. Use warm rather than very hot water, limit bathing to 10 minutes or less, and gently pat the skin dry with a towel instead of rubbing vigorously.

    Apply a thick moisturizer early and often. Thick ointments and creams may be a bit greasier than moisturizing lotions but tend to stay on the skin longer. Apply these within a few minutes after getting out of the tub to trap the water on the skin, and try to reapply frequently -- even before your child's skin appears dry, or as soon as you notice any dry patches.

    Humidify your home. If your home is dry, such as with some heating systems, keeping the indoors at about 30 percent to 60 percent relative humidity can help moisturize the skin. Too high relative humidity may lead to mold growth, and lower relative humidity can cause dryness and itching of the eyes and nasal passages as well as the skin. As a point of reference, the Sahara Desert and Death Valley typically have a relative humidity of 20 to 25 percent, while a steam bath is around 100 percent.

    See your doctor. If the skin is very red, cracked, peeling, bleeding or infected (for example, is swollen or has pus), your child may need special over-the-counter or prescription treatments. Sometimes, dry skin may be a sign of a condition that needs ongoing attention, such as eczema or psoriasis. Your child's doctor can help diagnose and treat such conditions or refer you to a dermatologist who specializes in children's skin if needed

  • Re: Dealing with dry skin problems and conditions in children

    by » 12 years ago

    Thank you for sharing the information , I will follow these tips.

    Slow and Steady Wins the Race.

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