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Winter Baby Skin Care

By Megann Sauer, M.D.

Baby in hat

​Brrr, baby it's cold outside! Winter weather can be harsh on skin and this is especially true for your baby. A baby's skin is thin and can lose heat quickly. The dry, cold and windy temperatures can cause chapped lips, red irritated skin, windburn, heat rashes and frostbite. From a quick run to the grocery store or an outing to a friend's home, Boys Town Pediatrics offers tips on how to keep your baby's skin safe during the cold winter months.

Bundle Up Properly

The best way to prevent winter skin care problems is to to keep the skin covered and protected properly.

  • Just right. Be sure your baby is not too cold or too warm. Under-bundling can lead to frostbite and over-bundling can cause a heat rash from overheating. Put on the same number of layers you put on for yourself and watch your baby for sweating (too hot) or cold fingers and toes or blue lips (too cold).
  • Layers. Layer in light-to-medium layers (cotton or fleece) so your baby can still have proper insulation and air between layers to breath. Layers can be taken off once leaving the outside weather and entering the room temperature environment.
  • Ample covering. Keep hands, toes and the head and face properly covered. Include hats, mittens, socks, boots and a coat or snowsuit depending on the activity and exposure.

Treating My Baby's Skin

Taking care of your baby's skin is important, especially when the air is dry.

  • Moisturize. Try moisturizing at least twice a day using non-scented, hypoallergenic lotion. A thicker lotion (cream) may help during the winter months to help build a stronger layer of protection. Using lotion with sunscreen before heading out (especially with prolonged sun exposures) can help prevent against windburn or sunburn.
  • Petroleum Jelly. Try Vaseline or Aquaphor. Both can be found in most stores and come in travel sizes that can be placed conveniently in diaper bags and small enough for traveling purposes. Apply a thin layer on dry or cracked skin such as your baby's lips or cheeks several times a day to protect the damaged skin.
  • Cortisone. Can help with temporary itchiness or heat rashes. Try applying a thin layer softly on affected areas after the skin has been cleaned thoroughly with warm water.

Frostbite

Frostbite is a condition that results in extremely cold tissue that manifests itself visually in a white or grayish appearance in the skin during early stages, followed by a blackening in more advanced stages when skin tissue begins to die. The skin may feel overly cold and may have a numb or prickly feeling. The cheeks, ears, fingers and tip of the nose are common places to get frostbite. If your baby has frostbite:

  • Use wet heat to start rewarming the frostbitten area immediately. It is important to use wet heat only because frostbitten skin can burn very easily, so dry heat, like that from a space heater or heat lamp, can be dangerous.
  • If the area is submergible, keep it under warm (not hot) water until a pink flush returns to the skin. This can take as long as 20 to 30 minutes. If the area cannot be kept under water, rewarm the affected area with a wet cloth. Once you have started rewarming the skin, call your pediatrician immediately for further advice or instruction.