KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Cold winter air can rob our skin of its natural moisture and it’s often worse for babies and toddlers. However, winter doesn’t have to worsen your child’s dry skin. Dr. Heather Radu from East Tennessee Children’s Hospital offers some tips.

Why is dry skin often worse for young children? 

They have thinner, more delicate skin than adults. So, babies and toddlers lose moisture more easily. Winter dryness is especially tough for children who have a dry skin condition known as eczema.

Tips to relieve dry skin

Give short baths. Baths are better than showers at keeping skin hydrated, but a long bath can have the opposite effect. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping your child’s bath under 10 minutes in length.

Keep temp lukewarm. Hot water can dry out skin and also activate nerve endings, which become more sensitive, increasing the urge to scratch.

Avoid bubble baths and foamy, scented soaps. Not only do children tend to spend longer amounts of time in water with bubbles, the products often contain detergents which can strip skin of natural oils, making it more prone to dryness. Fragrances and other chemicals can do the same. Fragrance-free, deodorant-free and hypoallergenic soaps are best.

Choose the right moisturizer. Ointments contain the most oils and are very helpful for extremely dry, irritated skin. Ointments also don’t contain preservatives that will sting when applied.

The second-best option is cream moisturizer, which also contains a lot of oils. Lotions are thinner and lighter. Lotions contain fewer oils, but more water, and may be better in warmer months or for those whose skin is not as dry.

Add a humidifier. Forced-air hearing in winter creates dry air and low humidity in your home. Using a cool-mist room humidifier can help add moisture to your baby’s environment.

When to call your pediatrician. If your child’s dry skin persists, talk with your pediatrician. It could be eczema and additional steps can be taken, including prescription medications, to ease the problem.