Lots has been said about the softness of a baby’s skin, but winter can prove to be harsh on it. A baby’s skin is especially thin and loses heat quickly. It is more likely to be damaged during the cold winter temperatures and the biting of wind. Cold, dry and windy temperatures can cause red irritated skin, chapped lips, heat rashes, windburn and frostbite in a matter of seconds. Dampness in skin folds during winter can give rise to yeast and fungus infections. Eczema is also common in babies during winter with irritation and dry red patches as is cradle scalp due to dryness and causes your baby’s scalp to become flaky and irritated.
Some babies may also be genetically predisposed to skin dryness. They are also more vulnerable to skin problems as their skin is sensitive and delicate. Soaking for too long in the pool or tub, being inside in dry heat or outside in cold weather can cause skin dryness. Sensitivity to fragrances or chemicals in soaps and creams can also cause skin damage. Sometimes, even drool during teething, a runny nose and some foods that are smeared on their face can trigger a skin problem. Even wearing the wrong size of diaper can cause a diaper rash as can friction from clothing. A careful winter skin care routine needs to be followed to keep your baby’s skin soft and supple.
Prevention of Skin Damage
- The first thing to keep in mind on how to prevent dry skin in winter is to ensure that your baby’s skin is covered and protected properly. Be particular that your baby is neither too warm which can lead to a heat rash nor too cold which can lead to frostbite. Put on the same number of layers that you would wear yourself and watch for symptoms like whether your baby is sweating or has cold fingers and toes or blue lips.
- Use cotton or fleece layers as part of their winter skin care routine so that your baby has proper air and insulation between layers.
- Keep your baby properly covered when outside with a hat, socks, mittens, boots and a coat or snowsuit .
- Use a humidifier to protect your baby’s skin from dryness during winter days.
- Over bathing can cause babies’ skin to easily dry up during winter.it is not necessary to give a newborn baby a bath every day. A gentle sponge bath with lukewarm water followed by a gentle moisturiser is a good idea.
- Regular massages boost blood circulation and keep a baby’s skin soft and supple. Baby massage oil combined with natural essential oils is a good option.
- Another way on how to prevent dry skin in winter is to resist using sweet-fragranced soaps. A soap-free cleanser is best to keep your child’s skin moisturised.
- Keep your child properly hydrated. Babies do not need any additional liquids beyond milk till they are 4 to 6 months old. This gives them all the hydration and nutrients they need. But toddlers require a lot of water especially if they have been ill or just been weaned.
- Don’t overheat the house which is a temptation many of us give in to when there are low temperatures and chilly winds outside. An overheated house air can dry out your baby’s skin even more. Keep the house cool enough that your baby requires to be tucked in warmly while sleeping. If you do keep the heat on, use a humidifier in your baby’s room as that will prevent their skin from drying out.
Treating Damaged Skin
- Use a fragrance-free, colour-free and hypoallergenic moisturising lotion on your baby’s skin twice a day to prevent dryness. A creamier lotion may be required during winter for extra protection. For babies with very sensitive and dry skin, use moisturisers that contain both water and oils and apply generously after bathtime, when their skin is still slightly damp. For dry and rough patchy skin, use a super-emollient ointment and for really dry skin it is best to use a cream instead of a lotion twice daily.
- A sunscreen along with lotion while going out can help prevent sunburn and windburn.
- Use clinically approved winter skin care products like shampoos, lotions, soaps and even laundry detergents to prevent dryness, allergies and infections of the skin. Using products with ingredients that are not natural or even giving bubble baths to the babies is not advisable.
- Petroleum jelly like Vaseline can be used on dry or cracked skin , especially on their lips or cheeks several times a day.
- Cortisone can be applied in a thin layer after cleaning the area with warm water to help with itchiness or heat rashes.
- For frostbite that results in extremely cold skin tissue which eventually begins to die, use wet heat to start warming the frostbitten area immediately. It is important to use only wet heat as dry heat can cause the skin to burn very easily. You can also submerge the area in warm water till the skin gets a pink flush which can take up to half an hour. If you cannot submerge the area, warm the affected area with a wet cloth and contact your paediatrician immediately.
- As a baby’s skin is very sensitive, always dress them in soft, breathable fabrics that don’t cause rashes and irritation.
- Oil your baby’s scalp to reduce itching and dryness. A non-soap cleanser and an anti-inflammatory ointment should be used If a baby suffers from eczema.
- For diaper rash, consult a doctor before using a cream to get relief from soreness and redness.
- Snow burn in babies happens because snow reflects up to 85 percent of the harmful rays of the sun. As it’s caused by the sun, it has to be treated like sunburn with a baby-safe SPF 30 to 50 sunscreen that is used regularly.
Winter is tough on everyone’s skin, but babies have the worst of it because of their delicate and sensitive skin. A few simple precautions and safe winter skin care products can prevent chapped and dry skin as well as other skin problems and keep your baby safe from discomfort and smiling through the year. Sometimes, what seems logical to parents, like over bundling your baby or over heating the house in winter, can actually cause more harm than good. If your baby does suffer from irritated, inflamed, dry or chapped skin, there are some simple tips to treat your baby so that their skin is soft and supple again in no time. For more comprehensive information on winter skincare for your baby, touch base with the EuroKids website to stay updated.