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Prevent Dry Skin During Winter

By Micah Ryan, M.D.

As the weather gets colder during the fall and winter, your child may see an increase in dry skin. Factors can vary from environmental to medical, including low humidity, exposure to wind, cold weather, eczema, food and other allergies.

Tips to Protect Your Family’s Skin

Your child may have a variety of triggers, such as certain foods or hygiene products. Try to find what triggers your child’s dry skin to figure out the best solution. Avoiding, eliminating and switching items to a more sensitive product can help. Follow the tips below to help battle dry skin.

Create a Healthy Skincare Routine

Cleanse, moisturize, treat and repeat! Cleanse daily with soap or a facial cleanser to remove excess dirt and oil. Choose a non-comedogenic or mild product with warm water. To dry off, pat softly instead of rubbing. Next, use a moisturizer that is oil-free and has at least a 15 SPF to lock in moisture. For extra dry skin, apply an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream. Creams and ointments that are thicker can help keep moisture for longer periods than regular lotions. Products that do not contain a scent and are labeled for sensitive skin can also increase effectiveness. Apply a thin layer to clean, dry skin. You may need to repeat during the day.

Prevent Acne Breakouts

If your teen has acne or is prone to breakouts, use a medicated wash with 1-2 percent salicylic acid or try benzoyl peroxide as an alternative. These treatments will help prevent new breakouts and may take one to two months for improvements to show. Remember to follow guidelines and use the product routinely for the highest effectiveness. Slight dryness, redness or tightness may occur. If these symptoms continue or worsen, discontinue use and consult your pediatrician. Many teens will still have acne despite this treatment. Follow up with your pediatrician for further care.

Wet-To-Dry Method for Severely Dry Skin

Apply a generous amount of moisturizer to the affected area with a damp piece of gauze. Wrap a layer of dry gauze over the damp gauze and allow a few hours or overnight treatment. For severe dry skin, this technique can be used continuously from 24 to 72 hours. If used nightly, dressings can be applied for around five to 10 days. Always routinely switch and apply new gauze.

Relief from Eczema

A red, extremely itchy rash, called eczema, is common. Eczema can affect children as young as 2 to 6 months through adolescence. It is typically found in the creases of the skin including the elbow, wrists and knees. Eczema tends to run in families and many times has an atopic or allergic basis. If you feel your child may have eczema, contact your physician to see how to approach your child’s specific needs.

Protect Skin with Cold Weather Clothing

When your child is outside, protect his or her skin by wearing the proper winter clothing including gloves, a hat, a scarf, a coat, pants and socks. Be cautious of thick or scratchy materials that can cause bothersome heat or itchiness.

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