Cooler, Shorter Baths: When my little ones were infants and toddlers, I loved to give them baths. But all three of them had patches of dry skin and varying degrees of eczema. What worked for us was to bathe them less frequently so that we weren't always washing off their skin's natural oils. We didn't let them turn into Pig Pen baby or anything, but we set a bath schedule of Monday, Wednesday, Saturday. We let them play in the bath once a week instead of every time and kept the water mildly warm -- not hot. Believe it or not, it has helped our children's skin tremendously.
Easy on the Soap: I have come to love lotion-based soaps. Yes, they don't lather the same way, but they do the job just as well. When the kids were babies, we used Aveeno Creamy Baby Wash. It works so well that I give it to my friends who are brand new moms. Another tactic to try is to add a capful of no-tears bath soap to the water as it runs into the tub. If there is a little soap in the water, you won't need to place it directly on your child's skin.
Build good Habits: Now that my boys are in elementary school, they are in charge of their own hand-washing. Their hands can get really dry if they aren't rinsing all the soap off. We've also noticed that they have to dry their hands thoroughly or the crevices between their fingers will get raw and red. So, we reinforce good rinsing and drying habits. We also keep a bottle of lotion at each of our bathroom sinks. (Perhaps you remember that my youngest is a lotion fanatic? Now you know why.) Encouraging your child to get a little lotion every so often -- especially after washing -- can build good self-care habits and help heal their hands.
Don't be Flaky: When dry skin gets itchy and flaky (my daughter's legs get this way from time to time) I leave the soft washcloth out of the bath and use a mesh puff. It's a little scratchy, but it gets the job done (plus, it's girly and purple, so she loves it). I figure, if it's good enough for my knees and elbows, why wouldn't it work for her?
Lovely Lips: When the kids' lips get dry and cracked, we gently brush them with the toothbrush while they're brushing their teeth. It takes the dry part off when their lips are already nice and wet, so there's no cracking. We follow up with lip balm after brushing, and they're good to go.
Put on Moisture that Stays: So many first-time Moms learn about the benefits of Baby Massage after a bath. Not only does it relax your child, it helps keep their skin healthy. Once your children are older, they can learn to put lotion on after their bath all by themselves. We have had great luck with a few products that are gentle enough to soothe and heal their skin.
- Baby Bee Apricot Baby Oil: I used this gently scented oil on all my babies and love it. It is produced by the Burt's Bees company, and although many of their products are so harsh they would dry out a rhino in a rainstorm, their Baby Bee products are quite good.
- Aveeno Calming Comfort Baby Lotion: We use this lavender-scented lotion before bedtime. It is my children's favorite scent -- very light. Aveeno products contain colloidal oatmeal, which helps skin to hold moisture.
- Nivea Extra Enriched Lotion: The big blue bottle of Nivea graces our home in more than one place. We use the formula for Very Rough, Dry Skin because it has small beads that smooth your skin as you rub it in.
- Norwegian Formula Hand Cream: We put a tiny dab of this on dry patches -- especially eczema -- anytime skin gets red. It does the trick, practically overnight.
Get Moisture Inside-Out: Getting your children to drink enough water -- without anything mixed in -- can sometimes be a challenge. We work little drinks into our daily routine by drinking water at tooth-brushing time (morning and night) and with afternoon snack. If your child is taking in enough water, it can be easier for his or her own body to keep from drying out.
Free your Laundry: Finally, one of the things my pediatrician had me pay attention to early on was the type of laundry soap and fabric softener I used on my family's clothes. I tried several types and paid attention to their effect on my children's itchy skin. Right now, we use a fragrance-free soap (All Free & Clear) and very little softener (1/3 of a dryer sheet for a whole load). It seems to get out the stains (um... I have 2 boys, remember?) without making the rest of us itchy.
Well, that's what works for us. (I know it's not the most exciting post, but sometimes Moms have to be practical... Am I right?)
Hope these tips work for you and your itchy scratchy family.
- Midwest Mom