Winter Skin Savers

Moves That Soothe

Your baby's skin is so soft and delicate that it's bound to suffer from some irritation this winter, no matter how cautious you are. Here's how to treat the most common problems.

  • Chapping. The area around the mouth and chin can become chapped from the combination of cold and your baby's drool. The solution? "Create a barrier between the skin and saliva," Dr. Mancini says. Applying a thick, greasy moisturizer or cream should do the trick. The skin around your child's nostrils can become irritated too, especially if her nose is runny. Dab on a bit of a petroleum-based product, such as Aquaphor.
  • Windburn. Exposed skin, especially on your child's cheeks, bears the brunt of any stiff, dry wind that comes along. The result can be windburn -- sensitive, dry, red patches that resemble sunburn. Cover your child up as best you can, and use a thick lotion with an SPF of at least 15. (Sunburn is a risk even in the winter, partly because of how intensely snow reflects the sun.)
  • Eczema. Low humidity can aggravate this fairly common skin disease; its main symptoms are itchy, red patches on the cheeks, scalp, hands, and feet. Avoid wool and perfumed lotions or soaps, and ask your pediatrician about treating the irritated areas with an anti-inflammatory cream.
  • Prickly heat. Prickly heat isn't just a summertime problem. Dressing your child in too many layers can also lead to these tiny red bumps. A cool compress or a tepid bath can relieve itching, as can keeping your child cool and letting his skin breathe. This is one time when applying some lotion won't help: "It will only make the rash worse, because sweat glands are already blocked," Dr. Mancini cautions.
  • Frostnip. This precursor to frostbite can strike when skin is exposed to wind and cold temperatures for too long. The affected areas -- usually the cheeks, nose, fingers, and toes -- turn so pale they look whitish or ashen, but return to their usual color soon after being warmed. If you suspect that your baby has frostnip, immediately take her in out of the cold and try to warm her skin using your hands, warm towels, or warm (but not hot) water. If none of these techniques work, take her to the hospital right away. For any of these conditions, contact your child's pediatrician if symptoms persist or if there's bleeding, excessive itching, oozing, or scabbing.

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