Dry Skin Care :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

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Dry Skin Care

Keeping your child's skin clean and moisturized is very important. This will help keep the skin healthy and prevent irritated, dry skin. Taking baths once a day and using moisturizing creams 2-4 times a day will help prevent dryness.

Baths

Your child should bathe at least once a day. Baths will introduce moisture into the skin, remove irritants from the skin, and help prevent infections. Here are some tips for bathing:

  • Lukewarm water is most gentle for the skin.
  • Use a mild, unscented soap or cleanser such as Dove for Sensitive Skin®, Cetaphil Cleanser®, Vanicream Soap®, Cerave Soap® or Purpose Cleanser®.
  • Let your child play in the bath first for about 15 minutes and wash with soap at the end of the bath.
  • Use the soap only on the body parts that need washing (armpits, genital area, and any visibly dirty areas).
  • Gently pat the skin dry with a towel. Do not rub the skin dry.
  • Immediately put a moisturizing cream or ointment on the skin. Moisturizing right after the bath seals in the moisture from the bath water.

Moisturizers

Your child will be much more comfortable and less itchy if the skin is well moisturized. The best time to apply the moisturizer is right after a bath. Moisturizers can be used several times during the day. Generally, creams and ointments are thicker and more effective than lotions. Use unscented moisturizers such as:

  • Eucerin Cream®
  • Cetaphil Cream®
  • Aquaphor Ointment®
  • Vanicream®
  • Aveeno Advanced Care®
  • Vaseline®
  • Cerave Cream

Apply the moisturizer to all skin. The moisturizer will help to prevent dry, itchy patches from forming.

  • If you are using both a prescribed skin medication and a moisturizer, put on the medication first and then cover with the moisturizer.
  • If you do not like the moisturizer that your doctor recommended, please discuss this with your doctor at your next visit.

Keep taking care for your child’s skin even after any dryness or irritation has calmed down. Skin may get irritated again, so it needs special care daily.

Other Skin Care Tips

  • Dress your child in cotton clothing. Wool and other synthetic fabrics may cause skin itching and irritation.
  • Avoid nickel if it triggers your child's eczema. Blue jean snaps, jewelry, and razors are often made with nickel and can irritate the skin.
  • Dress your child in one-piece pajamas to prevent itching of the skin in the night.
  • Keep your child's fingernails short to prevent the skin from breaking open while itching.
  • Use mild laundry detergent without scents or added chemicals (such as Tide Free & Gentle® or All Free & Clear®).
  • Avoid fabric softener sheets for everyone in the household. Liquid, unscented fabric softeners used in the washing machine are ok to use.

Dry Skin Care (PDF)

HH-IV-130, 4/12, Copyright 2012, Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Nationwide Children's Hospital
700 Children's Drive Columbus, Ohio 43205 614.722.2000