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Dry Skin In Children: Causes And Treatment

For new parents, it can be a challenge to deal with baby’s dry skin, especially when it is getting out of control. To help you out, here’s what you should know about its causes and treatments.

RELATED: Baby Acne | Frequently Asked Questions And Their Answers

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In this article:

  1. Why Do Newborn Babies Get Dry Skin?
  2. What’s Making My Child’s Skin Dry?
  3. Where Do Dry Skin Patches Appear in the Body?
  4. Who Can I Consult to Treat My Child’s Dry Skin?
  5. When Should I Call the Doctor for My Baby’s Dry Skin?
  6. When Will Dry Skin Heal Completely?
  7. How Can I Treat My Child’s Dry Skin?
  8. How Can I Prevent Dry Skin on My Child?

How Do I Deal with My Baby’s Flaky, Itchy, Dry Skin

Why Do Newborn Babies Get Dry Skin?

Baby skin is synonymous with supple, soft, and smooth skin. But did you know that newborn babies’ skin can also become dry and flaky?

Even before leaving the hospital or right after being welcomed into your home, your baby’s skin can begin peeling or flaking. This skin change is normal for newborn infants and can occur on any part of the body.

Babies are born covered in different types of fluids. This includes blood, amniotic fluid, and vernix. The more vernix a baby had on their skin at birth, the less they peel.

Vernix Definition: It is a thick coating which protects a baby’s skin from the amniotic fluid. When the vernix is wiped off, the baby’s outer skin layer will start to shed in 1-3 weeks.

What’s Making My Child’s Skin Dry?

Smiling newborn taking a bath | Dry Skin in Children: Causes and Treatment

Younger skin is more delicate and sensitive, so it’s more susceptible to dryness. Here are some factors which can make your child’s skin dry:

  • Soap: Too much bathing and soap can cause dry skin since soaps remove the skin’s natural protective oils. Without the oils, the skin won’t be able to hold in moisture.
  • Climate: Your child will more likely have dry skin under hot or cold weather with low humidity.
  • Genetics: Genes also play a role in your child having dry skin. The genetic skin disease, eczema, can cause dry skin during childhood.

Eczema Definition: It is a skin condition where the skin becomes inflamed due to a reaction or irritation from something. It also comes with blisters that are itchy and can bleed when scratched.

Where Do Dry Skin Patches Appear in the Body?

Dry skin patches can occur anywhere, but they’re usually on the face, legs, neck, and hands. Also, dry skin in children is normally seen on the elbow and the inner creases of the knees.

Who Can I Consult to Treat My Child’s Dry Skin?

Pediatric dermatologists have the qualifications and experience to treat your child’s skin conditions from their birth all the way to adolescence.

Children aren’t always able to express what’s bothering them, answer medical questions, or be fully patient during a medical exam.

Pediatric dermatologists can treat and examine children in a way that puts them at ease, using medical equipment designed for kids. Their specialized experience and training let pediatric dermatologists know what’s normal and what are the causes for worry.

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When Should I Call the Doctor for My Baby’s Dry Skin?

Dry skin rash can be itchy, uncomfortable, and at times, painful for your child. Deciding if you should visit your doctor or treat your child’s skin condition yourself can be tricky.

In general, these are the circumstances of dry skin discomfort which warrant a trip to the clinic:

  • Pain in dry areas
  • Inability to do daily, regular activities
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fever with rashes
  • Itchiness starts shortly after taking a new medication or eating new food
  • Rashes don’t change color when pressed
  • Rashes or dry spots appear like bruising

When Will Dry Skin Heal Completely?

Around 50% of children will grow out of dry skin by the age of two. All it takes is proper skin care for your child.

If your baby has eczema or atopic dermatitis, this skin condition cannot heal completely. Embedded in your baby’s genes, this form of eczema can never go away completely, but it can be managed properly.

Eczema is essentially a non-life-threatening allergy. You have several options for providing relief to improve your child’s comfort and temperament.

Because your child is too young to take antihistamines, they’ll need more TLC. Use daily applications of emollients and proper skin protection.

Your child’s eczema will get better and can even disappear completely if it’s well treated. Then again, this doesn’t mean your child’s eczema is gone.

They will always be prone to eczema outbreaks, even well into adulthood. Over time, these flare-ups can be managed and treated with the proper products and safety precautions.

Atopic Dermatitis Definition: This is a skin inflammation where the skin becomes red, itchy, and cracked. Clear fluid may come out from the affected skin and this thickens over time.

How Can I Treat My Child’s Dry Skin?

It’s important to use gentle methods and products made for sensitive skin when treating your child’s dry skin. Here are a few ways to treat infant dry skin:

  • Cut back bathing time: Bathing can strip the skin’s natural oils. Reduce baths to 10 minutes and use warm water and a soap-free cleanser.
  • Slather on moisturizer: Apply moisturizer on your child right after bath time. This ensures you seal in moisture on their skin from the bath.
  • Keep your child hydrated: Properly hydrated skin can help hold water and hydrating nutrients from moisturizers. Throughout the day, offer your child plenty to drink to replace the moisture evaporating from their skin.
  • Don’t let salt or chlorine dry out skin: Chlorine from pool water or salt from sea water can both dry out the skin. Rinse your child with tap water right after your swim.
  • Avoid drying ingredients: Ditch perfumes and powders which can be drying and can aggravate your child’s sensitive skin. Remember to check labels for other ingredients which may cause drying or itchy skin reactions like fragrances.

How Can I Prevent Dry Skin on My Child?

Close up hands of mother applying cream on baby's back | Dry Skin in Children: Causes and Treatment

Prevention is better than cure. Here are some things to remember to keep your baby’s skin from drying out:

  • Add vitamins to your child’s diet, especially zinc and vitamin C. These nutrients support the production of elastin and collagen.
  • Bathe your child in lukewarm water so the natural oils on the skin are not stripped off.
  • Use a humidifier in your child’s room to keep the air moist.
  • Regularly apply moisturizer well-suited for your child’s dry skin.
  • Keep them hydrated with water or milk if they’re under six months old.
  • During winter, cover up the dry skin patches when going out. During warmer weather, opt for loose, cotton clothing as the natural material allows the skin to breathe.
  • Use a gentle body scrub to exfoliate dead skin cells and impurities.


Babies can get dry skin just like adults. Watch this video about home remedies for dry skin from Natural Remedies:

YouTube video

It may be hard to believe, but infants and young children can get dry skin just like adults do. Dry skin on the face, hands, and legs is normal and not an immediate cause for grave concern.

Consult your pediatric dermatologist so they can help you provide the best care for your baby. It’s also important to remember to use the gentlest products without ingredients that can aggravate your child’s dry skin.

What are your tried and tested treatments for a baby dry skin rash? Share your notes with us in the comments section below!

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