Guest Post By Scott Reddler
As fall fades away, many of us begin preparing in earnest for the long and cold winter ahead of us. We often herald in this season by digging out the shovels, stocking up on canned goods, pulling heavy coats out from storage, and filling our cars with gas. Unfortunately, it’s also the season of chapped, dry, rashy, and itchy skin caused by the winter’s northern frigid air, runny noses, and dry atmosphere. As parents, we don’t want to overlook an important aspect of winterization this season: protecting our kids’ skin from the harsh elements.
Thankfully, the following tips can help us know how to protect our kid’s skin in the winter:
Use Sunblock. Just because the sun isn’t as intense during the winter, doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous. Even on overcast days, 80 percent of the winter sun’s rays can still penetrate the gloomy cloud cover and winter skies. This means that UVA rays are present year round and can increase a child’s risks of developing skin cancer if we don’t take precautions. Also, all of that snow blanketing our countryside reflects and intensifies sunlight which makes our kids’ delicate skin even more susceptible to sunburns. So, even though many of us have already packed away the bottles of sunscreen for next summer, it’s important that we keep continuing to apply sunblock on our sons and daughters during the winter months.
Get Humid. During this time of year, our kids often experience dry, rough, or itchy skin which makes them uncomfortable and miserable. This happens for several reasons, but a major contributor is the low humidity caused by the seasonal atmosphere or our indoor heating systems. One way we can help relieve some of the dryness is by using a humidifier or boiling a large pot of water on the back burner of the stove. Of course you will want to use caution, because some humidifiers and boiling water can be dangerous, but under watchful eyes we can add a little moisture back to the air. Experts recommend aiming for a 60 percent humidity level in our homes during the winter.
Moisturize. Adding humidity to the air isn’t the only way to combat dry skin. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using ointments or creams to trap in existing skin moisture. They tell us to look for ingredients that include the following: olive oil, jojoba oil, lanolin, glycerin, petroleum, and mineral oil. Lather up and moisturize after bathing and washing to keep our kids’ be comfortable in their own skin this winter.
Limit Bathing. Despite what we have been taught, our kids don’t need daily baths. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology only recommends bathing kids once or twice a week, unless they are obviously dirty or smelly. This prevents protective oils from being washed away and causing dry irritated skin conditions like eczema. To make this even more effective, avoid using hot water during baths, opt for a pleasing warm soak and keep it short, between 5 and 10 minutes.
Eat a Healthy Diet and Drink Plenty of Water. During the dry winter months, we need to ensure our children are eating well and drinking plenty of liquids. Diet can impact our skin’s ability to maintain moisture and experts recommend consuming food rich in essential fatty acids found in walnuts, avocados, flaxseed, salmon, and olive oil. Even though experts are still undecided if water intake can prevent dry skin, we do know proper hydration is essential to keeping our kids healthy.
Layer Clothing. While it is tempting to bundle up our wee ones during the winter, the unpredictable weather makes it essential we layer our boys’ and girls’ clothing to prevent overheating, chafing, and irritation. Start with a soft layer like cotton and then add peelable layers so a child can adjust to the temperature of the room.
Avoid Irritation. It’s easier to prevent skin problems than treating existing conditions. The best advice to protect your kid’s skin in the winter is to avoid irritants. Keep kids out of harsh winds, avoid overusing alcohol based hand sanitizers, harsh cleaners or soaps, wet clothing, excessive sweating, and extremely hot water. If a child gets chapped skin, put a protective layer of petroleum jelly over it to prevent further irritation.
What tips can you share for protecting your kid’s skin in the winter?
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*Photos courtesy of Scott Reddler