24 August 2019
Babies have delicate skin, which easily gets irritated because of the dry weather during winter. Photo: Xinhua
Babies have delicate skin, which easily gets irritated because of the dry weather during winter. Photo: Xinhua

Winter skincare for babies

The dry, chilly winter air is particularly tough on babies. Infants, who have delicate skin, may encounter various skin problems due to dryness and sensitivity.

Here are four common skin problems:

Eczema. Skin becomes dry, itchy and acquires redness. This usually happens on the cheeks, wrists, hands and feet. Babies feel uncomfortable and unable to sleep. They may often rub their eyes and affected parts of the skin.

The most important daily care is to regularly apply moisturizing products to keep the skin moist. Apply a thinner layer of moisturizer on the face and a thicker layer on hands and feet. Do not bathe the baby in a bathtub as it will dry out their skin. A shower should be done within five to 10 minutes; otherwise, the skin’s protective film of oil will be damaged.

Diaper rash. Skin irritation is mostly due to urine and excretion. This often happens in the winter when parents reduce the frequency of changing the diapers as they worry about their babies getting cold. 

Babies may be wearing a wet or dirty diaper for too long and their stool can be irritating to the skin, resulting in inflammation. The lower portion of the baby’s body, including the buttocks, genitals, lower abdomen and thighs may become reddish and swollen, and even develop fungal or bacterial infections.

Amid the dry weather, babies need to stay hydrated, especially when they urinate more frequently. It is recommended that their soiled diapers be changed more often. Avoid using wipes, which can irritate the skin. Use warm water to clean the bottom and then apply a thin layer of moisturizing cream to form a barrier between the baby’s skin and their stool.

Heat rash (miliaria). Parents tend to bundle up their baby when the weather is cold, but this causes sweat to be trapped on the baby’s tender skin. As a result, the skin becomes itchy. Red bumps as well as papules can be seen on the skin. This also occurs on the upper chest, back and thighs.

Avoid dressing up your baby with too many clothes. If the baby is sweating, use plain water to wash them, but keep them dry and clean.

Keratosis pilaris. This skin condition causes small, hard bumps on the arms, which are often light red-brown in color. It is more pronounced during the winter. Moisturizers can effectively lessen the effect but all-in-one cleansing products should be avoided.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb 14

Translation by John Chui

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Specialist in Dermatology & Venereology, FHKAM (Medicine)

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