On the Pulse

Help for Your Child’s Dry Winter Skin

2.22.2024 | Heather Cooper

Help Your Child's Dry Winter SkinSkin can get dry, irritated and itchy during cold weather. Known as winter itch, this condition can be caused by cold, dry air outside plus heated air inside. Bathing habits and cleansing products can also worsen the condition.

To prevent winter itch, minimize hot showers or baths and limit bathing time to 10 minutes so you don’t remove natural oils from the skin. Avoid bubble baths and drying soaps; instead, use moisturizing soaps or cleansing lotions. Gently pat — don’t rub — the skin dry with a soft towel. Immediately apply a non-scented moisturizer while the skin is still damp and reapply it several times a day.

For those with symptoms on their hands, use a moisturizer immediately after hand washing. If the skin is inflamed, apply a 1% hydrocortisone cream, available over the counter.

You can also turn down the thermostat, run a cool-mist humidifier and avoid irritating fabrics (such as wool) in clothing and blankets. If things don’t improve, see your child’s doctor, who may refer you to a dermatologist.