Q&A: What can I do for my 3-month-old's dry skin?
My 3-month-old daughter's face is constantly irritated and dry. I was advised by my pediatrician to apply lotion with 1 percent hydrocortisone. It relieves the redness. However, the dryness does not go away. At first, I was told that most babies go through this because of the hormonal change that is taking place and that it should relieve itself in a short time. Now, I'm getting somewhat concerned that her skin is still not getting any better. A friend suggested I try a lotion called Eucerin®.
It is true that newborns often do have dry and “peely” skin. Even as they get older, some babies will continue to have dry skin. It’s always a good idea to enlist the help and expertise of your pediatrician, since there are definitely varying degrees of dry skin and, not surprisingly, varying degrees of treatment for it. At the basic level, petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline®), lotions, moisturizers, and even ointments often are enough to improve dry skin. Eucerin® happens to be one particular brand of lotion that is commonly recommended. When dry skin is accompanied by additional symptoms such as redness and irritation, a nonprescription steroid cream (such as 1 percent hydrocortisone) may be recommended to help get rid of the additional redness and irritation.
That said, it’s important to be aware that steroid creams can cause color changes in the skin and over time, cause thinning of the skin. It’s also very important to make sure they do not get in a child’s eyes or mouth. In addition to moisturizers and steroid creams, babies with dry skin often benefit from some other routine measures such as switching to mild soap, making sure the air in your home isn’t dry by using a humidifier, and limiting the frequency of bathing (since ironically, frequent bathing can dry out the skin). It also can help to apply moisturizers immediately after a bath when the skin is still wet, since this is thought to “lock” moisture in the skin before it evaporates and dries out. And finally, it’s good to know that any time dry skin becomes a persistent problem, it’s entirely appropriate to consult (or re-consult) your pediatrician to figure out a longer-term approach to managing it.