Common Causes of Dry Skin in Babies: Prevention and Remedies

Dry, peeling and even itchy skin is common among newborns and babies. A baby’s skin is incredibly delicate and sensitive and can easily be irritated by the weather, soaps and lotions, ad even the wrong diaper.

So what are the most common causes of dry skin in babies, and what can you do to keep your little one’s skin moist and soft? This article will answer all your questions about your baby’s dry skin and how to help!

Causes of Dry Skin in Babies

  • Cold weather. The cold weather can quickly dry out your little one’s skin leaving it chapped, raw, and irritated. Dry air, which also comes with winter, is another cause of dry skin in babies. 
  • Not enough moisture. A baby’s skin dries out much quicker than adults, so it is important to use a moisturizer on their skin daily. In addition, babies don’t need daily baths, so avoid excess bathing, which can contribute to dry, flaky skin. 
  • Allergies. Food allergies to soap and detergent allergies can aggravate your baby’s skin causing it to become itchy and dry out. Allergies usually appear as a rash but can also show up as a patch of itchy, dry skin. Babies can even have allergies to diapers, so if you notice a rash popping up in their diaper area, try a different, more natural brand or switch to cloth diapers. 
  • Eczema. Eczema is a medical condition that causes dry, itchy, and flaky skin. Eczema, however, will not go away with more moisture alone. Unlike dry skin, eczema often shows up on the scalp, behind the ears, and in the creases of elbows and knees. Eczema is likely to be exacerbated by detergents, soaps, and warm baths. If you suspect your child has eczema speak with their pediatrician as they can guide you towards the best prevention and treatment options. Keep a log of when and where symptoms appear to help your doctor understand what is causing your baby’s dry, itchy skin.

Tips to Treat Your Baby’s Dry Skin

  • Keep your baby hydrated.  Ensure your little one gets enough hydration by giving them water once they start solids. Breastfed babies get enough water from breastmilk, but once solids are introduced, be sure to offer your baby whole milk and water to drink. Avoid sugary juices, which can lead to constipation and dehydration. 
  • Adjust the indoor air temp. Too much warm, dry air can cause dry skin in adults and babies. Try turning the heat down a few degrees or adding a humidifier to their room or playroom to keep moisture in the air. 
  • Don’t bathe daily. Babies don’t need daily baths, so if your baby is prone to dry sky, cut back to only one or two baths a week. Use a damp washcloth to clean areas like their face, hands, and bottom as needed.
  • Check your detergents. Use a gentle, dye-free, fragrance-free detergent for your baby’s clothes, towels, and bedding. Free and clear detergents are less likely to cause irritation or cause eczema flair-ups. 
  • Bundle up in cold temps. When the weather is cold, bundle your baby up to keep their skin from being exposed to cold, dry air. Layers are ideal because you can adjust based on the room’s temperature or the air outside. Babies and children should never wear a jacket or coat under their car seat harnesses as it can reduce effectiveness. Instead, wrap blankets around them, place a hat and mittens on them, and look for car seat covers to keep the cold out when transferring them from the car and the house. 
  • Use moisturizer. Apply moisturizer to your baby’s skin daily. Baby massages are an excellent way to bond with your little one and create skin-to-skin contact. Use a calming scent like lavender and make a baby massage part of their bedtime routine. You should also apply moisturizer after a bath or swimming. 
  • Wipe up drool. Drool can cause red, itchy rashes on your baby’s face and in the folds of their neck. If your little one is teething or prone to drooling, keep a soft bib on them while awake and keep a towel handy to wipe up any drool. Always remove their bib before placing them in their crib to sleep.

Should I Be Worried About My Baby’s Dry Skin?

Dry skin is a regular occurrence and rarely is anything to worry about. While frequent skin irritations or rashes may point to allergies or eczema in most instances, the causes of dry skin are easy to treat at home. Of course, if you have concerns, contact your pediatrician as they can provide you with additional tips and may recommend specific products that are gentle on a baby’s delicate skin. Your doctor may also walk you through testing for suspected allergies at home or order allergy tests at their office. 

While dry skin may be annoying and troublesome to look at, more often than not, a few changes and adjustments are all that are needed to clear up symptoms and get your baby’s skin smooth and soft again.

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