Asian boy with a towel on his head is sitting in the living room. He has big, dark black eyes and is relaxing on the sofa after his bath.

As winter approaches, parents face the challenge of protecting their children's delicate skin from the harsh effects of cold weather. Janiene Luke, MD, a dermatologist at Loma Linda University Health, shares tips to help ensure that children’s skin remains healthy and comfortable during these colder months.

Cold air, low humidity, and indoor heating can strip moisture from the skin, leading to dryness, cracking, and irritation. Children's skin is particularly vulnerable due to its sensitivity and thinness.

Winter Skin Care with special attention to eczema

Gentle Cleansing: Avoid long, hot baths as they can deplete natural oils from the skin. Instead, opt for shorter, lukewarm baths with mild, fragrance-free cleansers.

Moisturize Regularly: Immediately after bathing, apply a thick moisturizer to lock in moisture. Creams and ointments are preferable to lotions for their higher oil content and better barrier protection.

Stay Hydrated: Keeping children hydrated is as important in winter as it is in summer. Encourage regular water intake to maintain internal hydration, which reflects on the skin.

Dress Appropriately: Protect skin from cold winds and temperatures with layers of clothing. Cotton or soft fabrics are best as they are less likely to irritate sensitive skin.

Use Humidifiers: With heating systems running, indoor air can become very dry. Using a humidifier helps maintain a healthier level of humidity in the home, preventing skin dryness.

Sun Protection: Sunscreen isn’t just for summer. Winter sun, especially when reflected off snow, can be damaging to the skin. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen to exposed skin areas.

Identifying Eczema in Children

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, can be challenging to identify. Luke explains that it typically presents as red or violet itchy bumps or patches. Eczema is often linked to asthma or allergic rhinitis, accompanied by dry or sensitive skin in the child or family members. 

Choosing the Right Skincare Products

Selecting appropriate moisturizers and skin care products is essential. Luke advises looking for products with a higher oil content, such as ointments and creams, rather than lotions. Key ingredients include:

  • Emollients like dimethicone and squalene for soothing and hydrating.
  • Occlusives such as shea butter, petrolatum, and fatty acids/alcohols lock in moisture.
  • Humectants like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and urea draw moisture into the skin.

Luke suggests a few changes for winter skincare routines: switch to cream cleansers instead of gel cleansers and use thicker creams or ointments for moisturizing.

By recognizing symptoms, understanding triggers, and adopting appropriate skincare routines, parents can help alleviate the discomfort of eczema and improve their children's skin health.

Parents are encouraged to consult a dermatologist for more information and personalized advice.