Dry patches of skin – Eczema

Allergies & Anaphylaxis, Appearance & Well Being

Dry patches of skin – Eczema – skin winter blues

This time of year many people are feeling the effects of the dry, cold weather. Heating our houses doesn’t help either. Eczema is dry skin that becomes inflamed. Parents usually recognize eczema in toddlers and babies as dry, scaly skin that becomes red, irritated and itchy. It is the most common skin condition in children, affecting 20% of all kids. Luckily, most children have mild eczema that is easy to treat.  I know the eczema season is about to start when I get dry skin on hands and dry skin on legs. Parents of newborns and infants will note that their child has dry skin behind the ears, on the cheeks, and in the scarf distribution as I call it – the upper chest, back and shoulders.

What causes dry skin?

Most people with eczema notice their skin becoming drier in the winter, when the dry air and cold saps the skin of moisture.

Why does eczema bother me? For three reasons:

  1. It is itchy. We know how annoying an itch is. Not being able to sleep due to itching is awful. If your kids don’t get a full night’s sleep due to itching they won’t be as well behaved or learn as well.
  2. When you scratch you can introduce infection. Bacterial and herpes infections on eczema are common, and are a mess to treat.
  3. Scarring from untreated or undertreated eczema is not a result anyone wants.

What I recommend:

  • Bathing once a day or less often
  • Taking brief baths, no more than 10 minutes
  • Adding oil to the bath water. Coconut or baby oil, or a commercial bath oil product can help lubricate the skin.
  • Pat your child dry gently after a bath.
  • Apply lotion. What is the best body lotion for dry skin? Anything greasy. Use either petroleum jelly, petroleum free jelly or oil based product (my kids respond well to coconut oil) liberally on the areas of dryness.
  • Use a prescription cream. Your physician may give you a steroid cream (or better yet, ointment) to apply underneath the jelly/coconut oil
  • Keep the skin clean and lubricated – eczema hates being moist
  • Continue to lubricate the skin several times a day. The greasier the skin, the less the eczema

Enjoy your smooth, baby soft skin!

The general information provided on the Website is for informational purposes and is not medical advice.

Do NOT use this Website for medical emergencies.

If you have a medical emergency, call a physician or qualified healthcare provider, or CALL 911 immediately. Under no circumstances should you attempt self-treatment based on anything you have seen or read on this Website. Always seek the advice of your physician or other licensed and qualified health provider in your jurisdiction concerning any questions you may have regarding any information obtained from this Website and any medical condition you believe may be relevant to you or to someone else. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.

Dina M. Kulik, MD, FRCPC, PEM

About Dina M. Kulik, MD, FRCPC, PEM

Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.

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