Keeping Baby's Skin Healthy

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent
Irene Mikhail, M.D.

Q:I know that dry skin is one result of the coming winter weather. How can I protect my baby's skin as the temperature drops?

A: It's important that parents take steps to protect their babies' skin against biting wind and dry winter air, but always consult your child's pediatrician with any questions or concerns about their health.

Bathe frequently. Bathing can be restorative to skin as long as babies have their skin patted dry immediately after they're out of the bath, and a moisturizer is applied while the skin is still damp. Avoid air-drying, as the evaporating water takes some of the natural moisture away from the skin.

Use a moisturizer and moisturize often. "Often" means five or six times a day. Avoid scents, colors and products advertised as "lotion," as they can be irritating to the skin. A thick emollient like Aquaphor is recommended, but for children who may not like the feeling of something so thick, creams such as Eucerin or Cetaphil are effective. While many people use "natural" products such as shea butter or coconut oil, it is important to understand that "natural" can have multiple meanings, and some products may contain irritants.

Wear protective clothing. Bathing and moisturizing will only be so effective, because the cold, dry air can be very irritating to exposed skin. Cover babies' hands and feet, and try to limit exposure to the elements.

Break out the sunscreen. UV rays are still strong in the winter, and they reflect off of bright white snow. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.

-Irene Mikhail, M.D., is an allergy and immunology physician at Nationwide Children's Hospital.