Tips for Treating Dry Skin in Babies and Kids


Guide to Dry Skin in Kids and Babies

Newborns and infants may experience dry skin for a variety of reasons. From sensitive skin to newly developing oil production glands, dry skin problems are common and often not cause for concern. Here are a few of the most common types of dry skin associated with newborns.

Dry Scalp (Dandruff) and Cradle Cap (Seborrheic Dermatitis) 

Dry scalp, or dandruff, is common in newborns and is no cause for concern. However, it should be monitored for redness and irritation. You may be tempted to try to treat your baby’s dry scalp with lotions and oils, but this is actually counterproductive since the buildup of dry skin is caused in part by an overproduction of oil beneath the surface of the skin. These conditions can appear as:

  • red or moist areas in skin creases and folds (like the neck and behind the ears)
  • yellowish skin with greasy patches or crusts
  • scaly or flaky skin patches


Diaper Rash

Diaper rash is a common condition associated with newborns. Diaper rash is a result of irritation caused by friction from contact between a diaper and the skin. Diaper rash is often nothing to worry about and can be treated with diaper rash cream. However, it can be cause for concern if a rash becomes irritated enough to cause open sores or blisters. Use antibiotic cream and keep an eye on diaper rashes to prevent irritation and infection.



Eczema in babies can look similar to other common skin conditions. It typically begins as a patch of red or dry skin and will feel rough to the touch. Though babies can get eczema on any part of their body, it often affects the cheek area as well as the inner folds of the arm and leg joints. Eczema in babies can often be confused with cradle cap, but there are a few key differences: 

  • Cradle cap is less red and scaly.
  • Cradle cap typically only appears on the scalp, sides of the nose, eyelids, eyebrows, and behind the ears. 
  • Cradle cap generally clears up by 8 months, but eczema can last longer.

If you're unsure about which condition is affecting your little one, schedule an appointment with your child's pediatrician. 



How to Treat Dry Skin in Babies

There are a few things parents can do to help prevent dry skin in babies. If you’ve followed all of these suggestions and are still concerned about redness, dryness, or other skin issues, schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatrician.

Less Bath Time

It’s tempting to clean your newborn multiple times a day, especially if he or she needs frequent changing. It’s best, however, to limit bath time to 2-3 times per week, since frequent baths and contact with water can disrupt your baby’s sensitive skin and oil production which can contribute to dry skin.

Protect Delicate Skin from Winter Weather

Winter weather can dry a newborn’s delicate skin out and cause dryness, redness, and more. Protect your little one’s sensitive skin by bundling them up properly during winter weather to protect them from the cold weather and elements.

Humidifiers for Dry Skin

Humidifiers are another option for those who are experiencing chronic dry skin. Humidifiers essentially add humidity back into the air, and they can even prevent chronic allergies and sinus infections by loosening the buildup of mucus and phlegm in the nasal passages. If your little one is experiencing severe dryness, ask your pediatrician if a humidifier placed at his or her bedside may provide some relief.  

Eczema Treatment for Babies

Over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams and ointments may provide some relief from redness and itchiness caused by dry skin conditions, but if the problem persists, your child’s pediatrician may be able to prescribe a prescription-strength treatment.

Child Swimming in Lake

Summer Skin Issues in Memphis

Summer is one of our favorite times of the year in Memphis! Not only is there so much to do, but we also get to hear all about the fun adventures our patients are taking through the season. However, while summer is a season of fun, we see many patients because of a common, not-so-fun issue: painful skin conditions. Long hours of daylight, time spent outside, and increased levels of activity are all contributing factors to kids feeling the burn (and itch!) of summer.

Since your child’s skin is so sensitive, it is important to know how to protect his or her skin, but also how to identify larger problems that need medical attention. In our guide below, we walk through some of the common skin problems, along with some warning signs, that are important for parents to know. What may start out as a simple itch can sometimes escalate into something more – and quickly. Skin conditions can change fast, ranging from slightly irritating to quite painful in a matter of a few hours. But how can you identify skin issues and prevent them in the future? Let’s cover some of the most common skin problems kids face during warmer months:


Depending upon how prone your child is to sunburn, you may already be familiar with these signs. Reddened, peeling, and painful skin can pop up after time spent in the sun. Especially when your child is away from you – at camps, with friends, and more – it can be harder to manage and mitigate potential sunburns. While you can pack sunscreen and remind them to put it on every hour, they can sometimes forget.

As soon as you see that a sunburn is coming, it can be helpful to use lotions, aloe vera gel, or a compress (use room-temperature water, not cold water) on the affected area. Sometimes, sunburns can be severe, leaving your child with blisters, or even with sun poisoning. In these cases, it is important to monitor your child to ensure that their condition does not worsen. If it does, call your pediatrician for guidance.

To reduce your child’s chance of sunburning, always keep sunscreen handy, cover up as much as possible (with hats or rash guards at the pool or beach), and take breaks from time in the sun. As a friendly pediatrician reminder: even if your child is not prone to sunburns, always lather up the sunscreen! Keep their skin healthy for years to come by giving them high SPF-level sunscreen, helping them avoid skin cancer, aging skin, and more.

Bug Bites and Stings

Like sunburns, interaction with bugs increases in the summer due to prolonged hours spent outside. From common mosquito bites and bee stings to more serious spider and tick bites, there are plenty of bugs that will find your kids during the summer months! Keep your kids safe by wearing bug spray, checking for ticks, and examining unfamiliar bites closely. Also, keep a close eye on how your child is feeling after interaction with bugs. Some larger issues can come about when it comes to mosquito-borne viruses and diseases from ticks.

Ticks can sometimes impart Lyme disease. You will know that something is wrong if a large, round, bullseye shaped mark is left on the skin. Call us if this is the case. For mosquito viruses, it can depend on the area where you are and what cases have been reported. Over the past few years, issues of both Zika and West Nile viruses have been known. When you travel, or even when you are in town, be aware of reported cases and to know how to identify symptoms of these or any other viruses.

Here are the best ways to identify common bug bites:

  • Mosquito bite: round, itchy bump that can appear red or pink in color; can be flat or raised, and usually fades within a few days. 
  • Tick bite: if a tick is not manually removed, it can leave a red mark after it has bitten; this red mark may have a black center and must be monitored. If the mark expands over a few days, call your doctor. Also, contact your doctor if a bullseye circle appears around the site of the bite. Check your child regularly for ticks, especially in hard-to-find areas like the scalp and behind their ears.
  • Spider bite: most spider bites are not venomous, but can cause blistering and pain. Put ice on the affected area and treat with hydrocortisone cream to alleviate itching. If you suspect that your child has been bitten by something venomous, such as a brown recluse (however, their bites are rare), the symptoms will be apparent, with intense itching and blistering of the area, plus side effects like fever and nausea. Take your child to the emergency room if you suspect a poisonous spider bite.
  • Bee or wasp sting: a bee or wasp sting is usually noticeable because they are quite painful. The first thing to do is remove the stinger, then apply ice to the area. You can give your child Benadryl to help with itchiness and Tylenol or Ibuprofen to help with the pain. If your child’s skin begins to swell or they have trouble breathing, they have be having an allergic reaction to the sting; take them to the emergency room.


Rashes can come from a variety of sources, causing kids to itch and be restless. Rashes can come from the sun, in the form of heat rashes, or from plants, such as poison ivy.

The key to avoiding these sorts of rashes is to limit exposure. If your child has gotten heat rashes before, keep time outside in the sun to a minimum. If your child is playing outside, be sure to have them wash their hands and face once they return home. Staying clean and covered keeps kids from experiencing painful, itchy rashes through the season. If you suspect that your child has a rash, either from the sun and heat or contact with certain plants, just monitor the rash for a few days. Apply cool compresses to the site, along with hydrocortisone cream. If the rash worsens or becomes painful, call your pediatrician.

Allergic Reactions

Often, parents worry that any of the above conditions are symptoms of an allergic reaction. Things like bee stings or other bug bites can cause much alarm for parents, wondering if their child is having an allergic reaction. There are a few common side effects to look for if your child is experiencing an allergic reaction:

  • Trouble breathing, including wheezing or coughing
  • Hives
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea or stomach problems
  • Swelling, especially on the eyes, lips, and hands
  • Shock occurs

From bug bites, sometimes these side effects can occur from poisonous bugs, creating a reaction that is toxic in their system. If these reactions occur after eating a certain food, you will need further allergy tests to confirm a serious allergy problem. Of course, if any of the above symptoms occur, take your child to get treatment immediately.

Treating Summer Skin Conditions in Babies

Often, many of the skin conditions your child encounters through the summer can be treated, or at least alleviated, by a visit to your local pharmacy. Here are some of the most common treatments; stock up now to avoid issues later!

Ointments and Creams

From dry skin to poison ivy reactions, there are many types of skin issues that can flare up during the summer. To stay ahead of any problems, we recommend stocking up on the following items:

  • Sunscreen, preferably SPF 30 or higher (and water-proof!)
  • Bug spray
  • Moisturizing lotion for dry skin
  • Aloe vera gel for sunburns
  • Hydrocortisone cream for itches or bee/wasp stings
  • Calamine lotion for poison ivy or other rashes
  • Neosporin for cuts

If your child has symptoms that are not abated with the help of these items, let’s talk. Underlying allergies or other conditions (such as eczema) could be affecting their skin.


For excessively painful or itchy skin conditions, there are a couple of medicines that we recommend you keep handy:

  • Tylenol®, Ibuprofen, or Motrin® for pain relief
  • Benadryl® for itchy spots and relief
  • Claritin® for allergy relief

All of these items can help with the regular itches, pains, sneezes, and more that pop up through the summer months. Of course, if your child is ill or suffers from more intense skin issues, we can figure out if a prescription medication is the best course of action.

Allergy Tests

While allergy tests are not something you can grab at your local drug store, you can have your child tested to be aware of any allergies that may come up. Especially if your child has allergies through the year – such as to dust and pollen – it is important to know what else may affect their system. Talk to your pediatrician about seeing an allergist or the allergies your child experiences. We want to help you make the best decisions about your child’s health and to help keep them feeling their best!

Winter Skin Issues in Memphis

Winter in the south can sometimes be confusing. We often don't know what the weather will do next. One day, we're bundling up and preparing for several inches of snow, and the next, it's sunny and moderate. As a parent, the ups and downs of winter in the mid-south can be challenging, and especially so if it creates health problems for your little one. 

Cooler temperatures can exacerbate skin issues such as eczema, dandruff, and other forms of dermatitis. The lack of moisture in the air can make it extra difficult to keep your baby's thin layer of skin hydrated. 

Here are a few tips for keeping your baby's skin smooth and healthy during the cooler months:

  • Keep baths as short as possible. A long soak in the tub can actually be drying, and babies typically do not need to be bathed every day. Three times per week is usually sufficient.
  • Give them extra fluids. For babies under 6 months old, this means giving them as much breast milk or formula as they like. For toddlers, make sure they're drinking plenty of water. 
  • Don't overheat the house. Cooler months may entice you to crank up the heat, but dry, warm air can irritate your baby's skin. Keep the house comfortable, but don't overdo it.

Treating Winter Skin Conditions in Babies

In most cases, winter skin conditions aren't a major concern and will often go away on their own. However, in some cases, treating the issue may mean a happier baby (and a happier family). Here are a few ways to alleviate winter skin issues for your little one:

  • For dry, chapped skin: At least twice a day, apply fragrance-free, hypoallergenic lotion or ointment on the aggravated area. If their lip area is dry, apply a baby lip balm.
  • For frostbite: Though it's uncommon in the south, if you see signs of frostbite, do not hesitate. Hold your baby next to your skin for warmth and get to the emergency room as quickly as possible. 
  • For snow burn: Snow burn is actually caused by the sun, so you will want to treat it the same as a regular sunburn.

If your baby's skin begins to crack, spread, or become painfully itchy, you should call your pediatrician. 

How Your Pediatrician Can Help

Your pediatrician is here to help you with all of your child’s health and wellness needs. From delicate baby skin to changing skin for teens, we can provide guidance on how to keep their skin healthy and looking its best.

Since we are healthcare experts in the Memphis area, we know how our particular climate and wildlife can affect a child’s skin. Blending our knowledge of the environment around us with our medical expertise, we can help identify, treat, and prevent future skin irritations and conditions kids experience.

When to Visit the Pediatrician

If your baby’s dry skin has not improved after using over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams or ointments for babies, or if you’re concerned about redness or rashes, schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatrician. He or she can bring peace of mind for parents concerned about dryness and rashes or prescribe a prescription if necessary for skin concerns that would benefit from treatment.

At Pediatrics East, our pediatricians are always happy to meet with you to discuss any concerns you have about your child’s health and wellness. Schedule an appointment online today or call our appointment line at (901) 757-3535, Option 1. Our appointment staff is available from Monday through Friday, 7:30 am – 4:30 pm.


Posted by Tim Flatt at 13:37
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