Five ways to help prevent eczema this winter

We’re having a beautiful fall this year! In true Oregon style, our weather went from warm and dry to cold and rainy. The cold weather brings changes to our daily lives. Inside, we’ve turned the heaters on, which dries out the air. At school, our children go from outside recess to indoor heated classrooms throughout the day. While we can adjust to the fast-changing weather, we sometimes forget our skin needs help to catch up. Here are some helpful hints to prevent itchy, dry skin (often referred to as eczema) in our kiddos’ skin as we enter the winter months.

  • Bath time is a great time for children to calm down before bedtime and we definitely can continue to include it in our nightly routine. Keep the bath lukewarm and try to limit long, hot showers. It’s helpful to use gentle, unscented, cleansers such as Cetaphil, Cerave, Vanicream or Dove at the end of the bath. Avoid scrubbing as this can further dry out the skin. We usually recommend not allowing children to sit in soapy water as this can dry the skin and disrupt the skin barrier.
  • After bathtime is a great time to apply a thick moisturizer or emollient to help seal in the water your child’s skin absorbed during bathing. Lightly pat dry and then begin applying a generous amount of a thick cream to their face and body. The tubs of cream like Cetaphil, Cerave, and Vanicream are usually recommended. I like to get children involved in this process by letting them “finger paint” the cream on their body while a parent or caregiver works on the rest of the body. The key is to make it fun and quick!
  • Add in an extra five minutes before getting them dressed in the morning to apply a thick moisturizer before they go to school.
  • Lips and hands also tend to suffer during the cold weather. Send your children with gloves to protect those little hands from the cold weather. Placing a pump cream by the bathroom sink can increase the opportunity to moisturize after handwashing. If it’s permitted at school, have your children take a small Aquaphor or Vaseline tube to help moisturize their lips at school and home. Children often continually lick their lips to hydrate them, which increases dryness and can lead to inflammation.
  • Although children love fragranced lip balms and lotions, try to avoid them as they often dry out their skin rather than moisturize, and we sometimes see irritation secondary to these.

Tell your provider if your child is having increasing dry skin or inflammation, and bring them in to see one of us in Pediatric Dermatology if they are starting to have sleep disturbance, itching or signs of infection (i.e., honey colored crusting, blistering). We have multiple locations to help serve you better. Lara Clayton primarily practices out of Lake Oswego, but we can also see you at the Center for Health & Healing on OHSU’s South Waterfront campus or on the Marquam Hill campus at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.

To schedule an appointment, please call 503 418-3376.


Lara Clayton, M.P.A.S., P.A.-C.
Instructor of Dermatology
OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital