Many people have dry, cracky skin. Dermatologists often call this eczema. There are many things that can make this worse and many things to make it better. When skin is overly dry it can lead to itching and that can cause the skin barrier to be lost and then bacteria or viruses or fungus can cause infections to enter. Sleepless nights and irritable children can result. So, good, gentle skin care is important.
Things things that worsen dry skin:
1. Frequent bathing. Since water removes the natural oils and that is really what dry skin is, less time in water is very useful. We suggest 3-5 minutes only and every other day. Occasionally every day may need to happen due to dirt!
2. Harsh soaps. Avoid the deodorant soaps and bubble baths as they also dry out the skin. Dove, Camay, Basis and Caress are very mild and are suggested. Avoid the liquid soaps since you generally use way too much with this form of soap.
3. Fabric softeners. Downy and Bounce often have agents that trigger breakouts. Remember that if your tub or dryer had these in them for your laundry the agents may also linger and be on the child's clothes too. So, avoid in your laundry room if possible.
4. Skin creams with lots of preservatives. We usually suggest Eucerin Cream, original moisturizing cream (avoid the lotion version) or Aquaphor. Since friction exacerbates irritated skin put a gob on your hands and rub together to warm and then pat in place on the skin of the child. You can do this many times a day. Some children may need this once or twice a day and others may need this ten times a day.
5. Hot tubs, swimming pools and even sprinklers on the lawn. Really the more the skin is in water and chlorine usually makes skin dryer. So limit these activities. Rinse with water after swimming and lubricate then too.
6. Fair complexion. Okay, so there is no way to avoid being a red head or blond or to change your eye color from blue or green to brown. However these fair skinned folks have much crankier skin and they learn to take care of their skin or else they itch a lot.
7. Steroid creams can also help for the breakout. Be careful not to use lots of steroid containing medicines too often as these can thin the skin and make it very vulnerable to abrasions and infections of skin. 1% hydrocortisone is over the counter and works well 2-4 times a day. Check with your doctor for which steroid creams can go and when you may need it.
8. Sun exposure. Sun exposure also dries the skin. Avoid too strong SPF suncreens too. We suggest 30 SPF, PABA-free and waterproof. Apply before going into the sunshine and reapply a few hours later especially if you are in water as the waterproof is not perfect! Using the 45 and 60 SPF is frequently too strong on sensitive skin and causes breakouts of rashes.