By Amy K. Williams
Amy Williams is a freelance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety.
As we flip our calendars, it’s hard not to notice that we are in winter’s icy grip. This change of seasons is our cue to start digging out the warm sweaters, snow shovels, and soup recipes. While many of us love to snuggle in for a cold winter, we often overlook the impact winter weather has on our kids’ delicate skin. Unfortunately, the cold northern breezes often usher in a season of chapped, itchy, and irritated skin for our children that is often exacerbated by the dry atmosphere, forced air heating systems, and runny noses. As moms and dads, we owe it to our sons and daughters to look for the best ways to protect our kids’ skin from the winter weather.
Scroll through the following best ways to beat the elements and keep our kids comfortable in their own skin this winter:
Eat for your skin. We have all heard the adage about “you are what you eat”. There is a little truth to this saying when it comes to our skin. Encourage kids to consume healthy foods and drink plenty of water. We can prevent a lot of skin problems by consuming foods that are loaded with essential fatty acids, such as: avocados, flax, olive oil, walnuts, and even salmon.
Add moisture to the air. Do you remember shuffling our feet on the carpet to build static electricity to shock unsuspecting siblings? Many of us do and this time honored tradition occurs partly due to the fact that winter air can be dry, especially inside our homes. This low humidity can cause our littles to experience painful dry, itchy, and rough skin which can be very uncomfortable. We can relieve some of the dryness by adding moisture back into the air using warm air humidifiers or by boiling a large pot of water on the stove. Aim to reach a 60 percent humidity level for ultimate comfort. However, we do recommend using caution and keeping these items out of the reach of children to prevent any mishaps or burns.
Moisturize their skin. Unfortunately, adding humidity to the air doesn’t always keep dry skin away. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the key to defending kids against dry skin is to trap in the existing moisture by using ointments or creams. For best results, use products that contain the following ingredients: lanolin, glycerin, petroleum, mineral oil, olive oil, and other essential oils. It is best to apply moisturizers immediately after bathing to lock moisture in and prevent further drying.
Skip the nightly bath. Surprisingly, our boys and girls don’t need to take a dip in the tub every day or evening. Daily bathing can remove the skin’s natural oils and do more harm than good. Overbathing can cause eczema and other dry skin conditions to flare up. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, we only need to bath our children one or two times a week. Unless, of course, they are particularly smelly or dirty. Even then, we should avoid using extremely hot water and limit their soaking time to 5 or 10 minutes.
Layer, layer, layer. Avoid over-bundling and layer our kids’ clothing to prevent chafing, overheating, and irritation. While our first instinct is to insulate them against the bitter cold weather, we need to dress children like an “onion” with peelable layers. Start out with a layer of cotton and then add on removable layers so kids can easily adjust to the unpredictable weather and temperatures without a lot of effort. This can prevent heat rashes, sweating, overheating, discomfort, and more.
Remember the sunblock. Yes, our skin still needs protection from the sun’s harmful rays even during the winter months. We need to consider that even when it’s cold and cloudy, 80 percent of the winter’s sun rays still make it to our earth’s surface. For this reason, our children are being exposed to UVA rays without protection and that can increase their risk for skin cancer in the future. To make matters worse, snow cover reflects and intensifies sunlight which can increase the likelihood of sunburns. These winter factors make it important that we keep applying sunblock on our sons’ and daughters’ delicate skin long after the dog days of summer.
Avoid irritants. Our goal should be to prevent skin problems so our kids don’t suffer and we don’t have to treat them. One way we can do this is by avoiding irritants by keeping little ones out of harsh winds and avoid overuse of hand sanitizers, cleaners, harsh soaps, damp clothes, or very hot water irritants.
What are the best ways you can protect your kid’s skin from winter weather?