Dry Skin in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Dry skin is a common problem, especially in areas where the air is very dry.

A tendency toward dry, itchy skin may run in families. Some problems with the body's defenses (immune system), allergies, or an infection with a fungus may also cause patches of dry skin.

An over-the-counter cream may help your child's dry skin. If the skin problem does not get better with home treatment, your doctor may prescribe ointment. Antibiotics may be needed if your child has a skin infection.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

Showers and baths

  • Keep your child's baths or showers short, and use warm or lukewarm water. Don't use hot water. It takes off more of the skin's natural oils.
  • Choose a mild skin cleanser like Aquanil or Cetaphil.
  • If your child is taking a bath, use a skin cleanser at the very end. Then rinse off with fresh water. Gently pat skin dry with a towel.

Skin creams and moisturizers

  • Apply moisturizer or skin cream right away (within 3 minutes) after a bath or shower. Use a moisturizer at other times too, as often as your child needs it.
  • Moisturizing creams are better than lotions. Try brands like CeraVe cream, Cetaphil cream, or Eucerin cream.

Other tips

  • When washing clothes, use a small amount of detergent. Use a detergent that doesn't have added fragrance. Don't use fabric softeners or dryer sheets.
  • If your child has very dry hands, spread petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline) on the hands before bed. Give your child thin cotton gloves to wear while sleeping. If your child's feet are dry, spread Vaseline on them and have your child wear socks while sleeping.
  • Patches of itchy skin might not just be dry skin. If it doesn't get better using moisturizers, check with your child's doctor.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has signs of infection, such as:
    • Pain, warmth, or swelling in the skin.
    • Red streaks near a wound in the skin.
    • Pus coming from a wound in the skin.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter G604 in the search box to learn more about "Dry Skin in Children: Care Instructions".

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.