Moisturise your baby's skin properly. (Source: Getty Images)
By Syed Nazim Hussain
Follow these seven tips for keeping your baby's skin protected all winter long so you can enjoy all of the joys that the season brings.
Layer up, but not too much
When it's cold outside we want to bundle our little ones up and protect them from the elements. And what's cuter than a baby in a little snow hat? But how do you know if it's enough, and when is it too much? The easiest thing to do is dress babies in several layers of clothing. In general, babies need one more layer of clothing than adults. Stick your hand inside your baby's clothing to see if he seems hot. Too much? Take one layer off. If you see a little heat rash from overheating (yes, they can get it in the winter time too) treat it with a dab of safe, low-dose, over-the-counter hydrocortisone for a couple of days. But remember, hydrocortisone is a medicine, not a lotion, and should not be used for long periods of time.
Protect against the elements
This goes hand in hand with dressing in layers, but be sure to keep your baby protected from the cold and wind as much as possible. You might consider using a cover for your stroller so you can still get in those daily walks but your baby won't be exposed to the wind and cold. And make sure her head and hands are covered whenever you'll be out for prolonged periods of time.
Use a humidifier
Plug a humidifier in your baby's room when he sleeps at night. Since central heating in the home also sucks the moisture out of your baby's skin, you've got to replenish it. Using a humidifier will help to put some of that moisture back into the house and into your baby's skin.
Think warm, not hot
Nice, warm baths may be just thing to warm your baby up after being outside in the cold. We recommend a bath each night to help your baby wind down and get ready for sleep. Make sure you continue with your nighttime bath routine throughout the winter, but be sure to use lukewarm - not hot - water. Also, keep bath times short - as short as five minutes - for small babies. Extended exposure to the water and hot water temperatures are also culprits of stripping moisture from the skin.
Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise
We know that it's important to moisturise skin all year long, and sweet, tender baby skin is no exception. In the winter months when we have cold air, wind and central heat all working against skin's natural moisture it is more important than ever. When your baby finishes a bath, pat him dry to preserve some of the moisture on his skin. Then, make sure you use a moisturiser on your baby after every bath. At the first sign of any dry skin, bump up your baby's moisturiser from a cream to a hydrating ointment. Ointments have at least 80 per cent oil in their composition and are the most effective at preventing water loss from the skin. A trick to making ointments feel less greasy is to apply them to skin that is still damp.
Attack eczema head on
If your baby shows any signs of eczema, be sure to moisturise twice a day with an ointment in addition to moisturising after baths. A big part of eczema care is prevention on the front end so it never gets bad and uncomfortable for your baby.
Call in the experts
If your baby has dry, sensitive or red, irritated skin, you can use a low dose (1 per cent) hydrocortisone cream on the impacted areas. If the inflammation and irritation don't improve in a couple of days, call your doctor. Your paediatrician or dermatologist may have a prescription that will do the trick.
(The writer, a dermatologist and aesthetic surgeon in South Delhi and Gurgaon, runs Royal Lush - Skin, Hair and Laser Clinic.)