Almost 3 Year Old's SEVERE Dry Skin

Updated on March 20, 2007
C. asks from West Chicago, IL
38 answers

My son's skin has always been real dry, but especially in the past year or so. I'm quickly running out of ideas on how to help it. He's almost 3 years old (will be three at the end of next month). He has big patches on his scalp that hurt him when I try to gently comb it out after his baths to get some of the patches out. He'll let me do it real gently for a little while and then pulls his head away and says it hurts. Baby oil to loosen them up and cradle cap treatment by Orajel have helped as little short term fixes. Both are messy, but help a little bit. The rest of his skin is very dry gator skin. It's gotten even worse with this weather. Yesterday I put jeans on him and they didn't last long before we had to switch him to pajama pants because the denim hurt his legs. He has scratches on the back of his neck from the tags / colars irritating his skin. We have tried aquafor all over his body as the pediatrician always recommends. It's messy and doesn't really help. We've tried lotion that helps a little temporarily, but very temporarily, and now irritates his skin too. We've tried flax oil in his applesauce and yogurt. That helps a little, but not enough with this weather also working against us. We do baths every 4 days now to try to help it and since he's not getting that dirty anyway from playing outside or anything. I'm running out of ideas. I thought maybe A&D all over, but I don't know how good for you that is to have that much all over you?? I thought maybe an allergy if we were to see an allergist?? I thought maybe we should get a referral for a pediatric dermatologist?? I just don't know. The poor kid is in pain from his skin and I don't know what to do anymore. I thought I'd ask here and then maybe next step go back to the pediatrician just for that to see what can be done. My other son has dry skin, but not NEARLY as bad as my first son's. Any suggestions???? Thanks so much!

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So What Happened?

Thank you to ALL of you for SOOOO MANY great ideas!! I'm trying some of them already and we have an appointment with a dermatologist on this Tuesday. We'll see how that goes...what she tells us. Then we may make an appointment with a pediatric dermatologist depending on what this one tells us, but at least we can get in quickly to the regular dermatologist. Thanks so much!! I really appreciate all your ideas and what have worked for other people. Seems so many have dealt with this kind of thing. Thank you!!!! The day he was the worst and couldn't wear his jeans which I wrote about, I pumped him with juice to get fluids in him. And it WAS a lot better the next day, so he was dehydrated that day on top of it I think. I really don't like to do juice because of the sugar, but may be worth it for his skin. He does fine with milk and water typically, but apparently isn't drinking enough of it, but he sure gulps down juice. :) We'll see what happens with the dermatologist. Thanks again for all your ideas!!

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R.P.

answers from Chicago on

Hi C.-

I work in a day care center with 2 year olds. I have seen many of my kids with dry skin. One of the kids uses the Eucerin calming cream. I also use this with my daughter and seems to help her and this child in my class. Another child in my class tried using hydrocortisone cream and that helped him with the itching. Hope this helps.

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B.

answers from Chicago on

My daughter gets dry patches around her mouth and we use Kara Vita's Everyday Skin Penetrating Cream and within a very short period of time, the scales and redness are gone. Feel free to email me for more info. [email protected]____.com

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H.M.

answers from Chicago on

Eucerin lotion. My doctor recommened it. I think that is how you spell it. It is regular lotion but it works really good. You can buy it pretty much any where.

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A.R.

answers from Chicago on

My daughter is 6 and I finally have found the combination of things that work for her! Her hands are the worst of anything.

First, you are on the right track with the bathing. My ped asked me that first thing! The fewer, the better because you are washing away what little oils they produce. My daughter gets in the bathtub about every 2 days in summer and other nights there is a "sink bath" where she just washes off. I only wash her hair with shampoo once a week.

Also, she has a special bar of soap in her own little soapdish by the sink- it is Cetaphil brand soap (or cleansing bar, I think they call it) for very sensitive skin. Anything else dries her out terribly!

(Actually I remembered about Cetaphil and decided to try ti with her because it was recommended to me for dry skin/eczema years ago by a dermatologist for my own skin!)

The routine is for us to use the Cetaphil lotion at night before bed (hands and feet can get white cotton socks put on to keep in MORE moisture if they are raw- you will see improvement right away. This also works with other things like Vaseline.) Then we lotion her again in the morning before going out, and she has a pump by the sink as well to put on her hands after each washing.

You can buy the Cetaphil at Walmart. They have a generic too, but we use name brand since it is such an important thing and she is SOOOOO sensitive. It is on the bottom shelf with the lotions in the cosmetics section.

I also had to teach her to dry her hands REALLY well after she washed them, because the water was sitting between her fingers and getting sore.

Make sure he is drinking enough too. I have read that by the time you are thirsty, your body is already dehydrating! Another thing you might look into are humidifiers. They make whole house ones and even little cute ones like frog or Thomas the Tank Engine shaped ones. I find this helps her as well AND seems to have the added benefit that she is not as stuffy with allergies.

As far as his scalp, maybe you could rub the Cetaphil lotion into it at night before bed for a few nights when you aren't planning to go anywhere (maybe the weekend) and see if that helps it any, and then wash with the Cetaphil soap OR get a presciption shampoo even from the ped?
(The Cetaphil is about $8/big bottle for the lotion at Walmart, but we got ours back in November and it's still pretty full, so it goes a long way! Ours had a sample soap attached too and she's still using that one.)

We got to Thida Maw in Algonquin for our ped. She specializes in allergies as well, but I agree that you may want to make a dermatologist appt.

Organic sites or stores like Whole Foods may have products like shampoo that would be better and less drying too.

Hope this helps!!
'M.

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D.V.

answers from Chicago on

A friend of mine helped his neighbor and their child with a very similar problem. He is in the health care industry himself and his brother is a doctor. It was a few minor changes and the solutions were all natural.

I know these people are grateful to Kurt for helping them. He lives is Oswego. His email is:
[email protected]____.com and his cell is: ###-###-####
D. V.

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M.

answers from Chicago on

My 4 year old has the same thing, she has eczema, we use hydrocortosone cream on it, that helps a lot and in the baby section, there is an eczema cream ,I forget who makes it but winnie the pooh is on the bottle and that works great, it does not burn like lotion, there is also an oil we use in the bath, I have to look at the name when I get home, but it works really well on also. T he winter is so dry, it gets really bad!! I hope some of this helped.
M.

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C.R.

answers from Chicago on

I would also take him to a dermatologist. It won't hurt anything and he/she can probably give you many suggestions. In the meantime, try the Cetaphil cream in the tub. It works great on my sons dry skin. It may take a couple of days to see results, but be consistant. Good luck.

C.

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S.W.

answers from Chicago on

sounds like he has ecemia which my son has. My son was really bad last winter and the only thing that cleared it up was taking him to a demotologist. They will probably give you a steriod oitment. sounds servere but it works! yes, all of it's messy, but it works. I also put aquafor on the cheeks at night and when we go outside in the cold. If it itches him, benadryl helps. Many times it takes weeks to get into a dermotolgist so call right away. I have the same problem so I just called my dermotoligist and they looked at my 6 month old son. You don't need a pediatric dermo. Don't take him back to the pediatrician, you need something stronger, if you don't have a dermo, insist on a referral from your peditrician. poor guy, i know how much it hurts.

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W.P.

answers from Chicago on

No fear, have you asked the pediatrician for something that will psoriasis or eczema? Maybe if he can prescribe Elidel(which is for moderate Eczema) or maybe something a litlle stronger if it is this severe...I say this because this is what it sounds like the problem is. Has the pediatrician mention this to you already? My daughter and I have the same problem as well as my best friend. When I was younger I had severe eczema, and scratched til I bled, and it hurt and just like with your son's pants, I was the same way. Also, my daughter is going through this now. When my best friend was yonger, she had those patches you're speaking of on the back of her head. When I get home, I have an ointment that my ped. prescribed for my daughter, I will repost the name for you and see if that will help. It helped tremendously for my daughter for the itching and pain, for the alligator skin, I used lotions that were scent free. Even Aveeno might help the dry skin, but for the patches and such, that sounds like something for the dermatologist to look at, so I agree with you, go for it. It will help him.

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D.G.

answers from Chicago on

C.,

You really need to find him a dermatologist asap. My nephew was almost the same way, and we had to use Agree shampoo and conditioner. we also used BAGBALM, its great on your skin, non toxic. We even use it on our dogs paws, from the cold and salt. have you tried changing laundry soap? good luck for your little one.

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M.L.

answers from Rockford on

Hello
I have been told by the allergist that if the skin is the problem it is something that the person is eating. I suggest an allergist.
A neighbor boy had the same problem he is allergic to peanut butter,soy & eggs they took these things away and for the most part his skin cleared up they still allow these foods at times so his skin is still not great. It could not hurt to check out an allergist.

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J.D.

answers from Chicago on

Hi there,

It sounds like you got a billion responses. Obviously, I can not read all of them, but I wanted to see if you tried going to an allergist. My son has terrible ecxima, and it's due to his allergies. I have a wonderful one in Highland Park. Dr. Lowenthal is his name. Aquaphor is always the miracle in our house.

Best of luck!!

Jolie

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L.B.

answers from Chicago on

Here is what we do for our child with dry skin. First of all, avoid any lotions that contain alcohol. It is drying to the skin. Aquaphor contains alcohol, also almost all lotions. We use Free and clear laundry soap and no fabric softner for our clothing and sheets. We apply shea butter from bath and body works. It's called too shea and is in the true blue spa line. A little goes a long way. We only bath every 4 days or so in lukewarm water. After a bath, we use vaseline all over. As for his scalp, I would check with your Dr. It could be a fungal infection. On days when his skin is really bad, try to write down what he ate that day and the day before. You may find that he has a food allergy. Common ones to watch for are citrus juices, tomato, nuts, eggs and soy. Good luck and I hope your boy finds some relief from his itch.

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C.B.

answers from Chicago on

I would try oatmeal baths instead of just plain soap and water, if that don't work try like oil of olay or unsented dove, My daughter has very dry skin as well and the dove works great along with aveeno lotion, I buy the walgreens brand instead it's like $3 cheaper and works just as well. I hope this helps. good luck..

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K.C.

answers from Chicago on

C.,
My daughter had severly dry skin too, so bad that her clothes would hurt as well, and I tried various lotions but the one that worked for her was Aeveno - not the baby stuff you find in the baby isle, but just the regular stuff. They have a 2 pack deal at Sam's/Costco, which we go through in about a month. I religiously lubed her up after her shower and it was nice and non-greasy, then after about a week, her skin really improved. Now her skin is soft and hydrated like a 3 year old's skin should be. I bathe her every day and just make sure to put lots of lotion on afterward and let it soak in (she loves the naked time!) Not sure if you could use the lotion on the scalp though, but would it hurt to try it for a week? Good luck! ~ K.

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S.B.

answers from Chicago on

My sons skin is terrible too. You know what works really good? I am going to keep using this on him because he has some exema now. Anyhow, it is the Aveeno 24 hour moisturizer for really dry skin. It is blue and off white and it works great. I mean super. I could not believe it.

S. Bailey CLD
Aurora
www.tendermomentsdoula.com

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K.H.

answers from Chicago on

Wow... I'm sorry that you are having such a hard time. I would try to make an appointment with a dermatologist because maybe there is an easier way. In the meantime I would try to make sure that he is hydrated. If you are dehydrated that can make your skin dry. If that doesn't work I would try pure lanolin. You can find it with the breastfeeding supplies at any store. It is fairly expensive, and is generally used on moms' nipples when they are breast feeding but I have used it on my dry skin (I take Accutane) and on my daughters'. Oh... and lastly try a humidifier. My daughter is a redhead and has severly sensitive skin and that works really well for her. Good luck!

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K.W.

answers from Chicago on

My son (and myself) has the same problem. He has excema. ALl the suggestions I have read so far are good ideas, and great places to start. However, the Elidel suggestion may only be a temporary fix: the steroids in the medicine can cause further skin reactions. Plus, any cream containing steroids can only be used for no more then 4-6 weeks because the steroids will actually start thinning the skin, causing more problems. I have found that lukewarm baths (no more then 10 minutes a day)with Aveeno bar soap works for the dryness/itching. Also, the one thing I haven't seen here (unless I missed it) is using Gentle Naturals Excema Cream! It is the ONLY product that has worked for my son. Apply it up to 3 times a day, and it really helps control the dry patches and itching. Good luck!

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M.W.

answers from Chicago on

Hi C.,
What's your email address? I'd like to foward you a brochure of a lotion that's guaranteed to work or your money back. I noticed some of the advice you've received mentions baby oil, vaseline, eucerin; things that make the skin oily. Your sone doesn't need "oil" he needs something to moisturize and penatrate beyond the first 2 layers of his skin.

Also, it may not be the denim but the chemicals commonly found in detergents that irritates him. Make sure you're not using any personal care products that contain quarternium 15. Google this and you'll see that it's formaldehyde and when you scroll down it'll show you the affects this chemical can have on skin. Q-15 is commonly found in Johnson's Baby Shampoo as well as Gerber Grins & Giggles, Equate baby wipes, etc.

M.
[email protected]____.com
###-###-####

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J.F.

answers from Chicago on

C.,
I would suggest Arbonne products. They are hypoallergenic, have no chemical dyes or fragrances, no mineral oil, no drying alcohol. Our baby line is fabulous and there are two other products that really help the conditions you described. Let me know if you would like information or samples and I will arrange to get them to you. J.

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J.

answers from Chicago on

My daughter had some bouts of exzema on her scalp and hands. We used Burts Bees "Feeling Flaky" shampoo, and switched to a nonscented soap like dove. A friend of mine has a daughter with terrible exzema. For bath time she would grind up oatmeal in the blender. Then she would put it in a knee high nylon and tie the top. She would put that in the bath with her daughter and it would help sooth her skin. Now it probably has alot to do with the weather, but try watching the diet too. You may find some foods make it worse. Best of luck. I know it is hard to watch your child suffer.

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C.

answers from Chicago on

My son Kenny, now 2 yrs 2 mos old, has eczema and although his skin has much improved it was very bad when he was younger. For the problems with his scalp I had been using a moisturizing shampoo, however, my pediatrician said to use a dandruff shampoo instead. With this we had significant improvement. For his skin, I generally use Cetaphil lotion if it's dry; for patches that flare up I use hydrocortisone cream. For awhile his scalp was very bad, and the dandruff shampoo (just a small amount) did help, and he seems to have outgrown the overall scaliness of his skin and we now have less occurrences and less severity. Hope this helps.
C.

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K.R.

answers from Chicago on

I read through the advice and it all sound about the same as what I am suggesting, but of course there are many dry skin disorders. My 10 month old has extreme, and I mean extreme eczema. We tried everything, even cortisone, but I have found that indeed Eucerin Cream is wonderful and soothing. Be patient though because it takes a few weeks to begin the actual healing. I also have used Gentle Naturals Baby Eczema Cream. They have a whole line of products geared for dry skin and cradle cap. It is better than alot of over the counter temporary fixes. It actually works. Watch your detergents and fabric softner as well as the soap you bathe with. Good Luck.

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E.T.

answers from Chicago on

C.,

I would get a referral to one or two pediatric dermatologists right away. I'm sure they have seen similar cases and will be able to help. If I knew of a good doctor I would tell you, but unfortunately I don't. Your ped should be able to provide referrals. Winter is such a hard time on our skin, but your poor son is obviously getting the worst of it. I hope you both get relief soon. :)

E.

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C.K.

answers from Chicago on

Take him to a dermatologist to figure out what is going on. It almost sounds like an allergy. There are steroid creams that would probably help this but you would probably need a presciption. How dry is your house? Do you use a vaporizer? What kind of soap are you using? Dove, unscented bar soap is a good one to use because it does not have anything added to it. When you launder his clothes I would also put them through an extra rinse cycle. I hope he feels better soon!

C.

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L.

answers from Chicago on

Hi C....

It sounds like it may be a "dry skin condition". Duh! But there is an official name for it, ichthyosis vulgaris. It is a common inherited skin disorder causing dry, scaly skin.

Ichthyosis vulgaris is one of the most common of the inherited skin disorders. It may begin in early childhood, before a child is 4 years old. In most cases one parent is affected, and each child has a 50-50 chance of being affected. The condition usually disappears during adulthood, but may recur in old age.

Ichthyosis involves development of dry, scaly skin. It is usually most severe over the legs but may also involve the arms, hands, and trunk. Affected persons may also show many fine lines over the palm of the hand. The condition is often more noticeable in the winter. It may be linked with atopic dermatitis, keratosis pilaris (small bumps on the back of the arms), or other skin disorders.

My youngest son has similar dry skin to what you have described, but not as severe. Although it is inherited, neither his dad or I have a problem. However, my brother has had it since childhood. I would definately recommend seeing another doctor to get another opinion, perhaps a dermatologist. I can get the name of the one my mom used for my brother, or the one he currently uses if you's like. You might also do a Google search for "ichthyosis vulgaris" and see what you come up with for additional information and diagnosis. Hope this helps!

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E.W.

answers from Chicago on

My son had some pretty bad eczema all over his back, stomach and chest. I tried many of the things such as baby oil, lotions and such, but nothing worked very fast.

His doctor told me to start using IVORY bar soap, unscented, for his baths, and hydrocortisone cream (can be 1/2% or 1%).
The dry skin cleared up in 1 day, and was completely gone in 2.
We still use the Ivory soap for his baths and rarly see such dry skin anymore, if any patches come up, I put on a little Hydrocortisone cream and it will be gone.

The hydrocortisone cream works just enough to rub in, more won't work faster.

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S.S.

answers from Chicago on

Hi C.!
Both of my kids-18 mos. and 4-have dry skin as well. My pediatrician recommended Aveeno products (you can use the baby wash for the hair or the regular Aveeno products that you would use) i.e. body wash. After the bath he recommended 1% hydrocortisone. You can also use the Aveeno lotions, but it sounds as if the hydrocortisone would be better given the severity. Since I have done this, the dry skin is pretty much gone. I also have several humidifiers (including one in their rooms & family room) to help with the dry air. The dry skin obviously gets worse in the winter, so this helps put moisture back into the air. I hope that helps.....good luck!

S.

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S.

answers from Chicago on

2 suggestions:

Cetaphil for his skin

Selsun blue for his had

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C.P.

answers from Chicago on

our son (almost 2) has the same problem. we've had really good luck using Ecerin creme all over his body & face. he's really responded well to it.
also, don't use any fabric softener in his laundry. and try using this fabulous Seventh Generation laundry detergent for sensitive skin (whole foods sells it).
this combination has made a world of difference for us.
whole foods also has baby shampoo made by Nature's Gate ($3.99 I think) that seems to be great and gentle on the scalp. but if the shampoo is that irritating, don't use any. just use water until spring, when the weather situation improves. it's not like he's got hair product that needs to be washed out....
hope this helps
good luck

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K.

answers from Chicago on

My daughter has excema and we have delt with this. First stop washing his clothes in just any kind of detergent use All Free and Clear...this is no perfumes,dyes or added. Second for his hair use Selsun Blue it looks weird but works well. Don't give him baths with any bubbles or add any of those fizzy things. Oatmeal baths are good and helpful. To wash his body use something that has shea butter. Try these lotions...Neutragena the Swedish Formula,anything with Shea Butter...we get the lotion from Bath and Body Works..yes its more but worth it,Aquaphor,Euccerin,and vaseline. Usually with the Vaseline I put it in her hair either during the day and give her a bath at night or put it in her hair at night and then give her a bath in the morning. If your child has wounds put neosporin on them and not lotion cause it will hurt them. Instead of all these different soaps to wash his hands get hand sanitizer and even get little bottles to carry around or/and put on your key chain. Also if you go swimming make sure he gets rinsed off at the pool and then showers at home cause chlorine also causes problems.

Ok for washing clothes All Free and Clear
Shampoo Selsun Blue
Body Wash Something with Shea Butter
For Lotion something with Shea Butter,vaseline
Instead of having him wash his hands with other soaps buy Hand Sanitizer

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M.C.

answers from Chicago on

Hi Cheyl, My name is M. and I feel for your son. I as well have horrible dry patches especially in the winter and I have played the try everything game myself to find nothing worked. Finally on vacation I picked up a travel size bottle of lotion that I would swear by and its over the counter stuff...It is Jergens Ultra Healing Extra Dry skin moisturizer. It is cheaper by far than the aquador that the Doctor and Pharmacist recomended ( that does not work ) and it worked great for me!!! I even lather my children in it after baths about twice a week and they havent even gotten dry skin this year which they are normally notorious for. These are just my expierences and I know every body is different but i hope it helps.

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S.R.

answers from Chicago on

Your poor little guy!!! I work for a skin care company and we have products that will help make him MUCH MORE comfortable, not cure him. I can give you a ton of advice on skin conditions and small ways at home that you can help him. I would tell you to first see a doctor. Start with your ped and let the doc tell you who to see next. This is somewhat serious and do not let your doc dismiss you. Allergies are a very likely problem but it could be a nervous system problem, could be something small.
Call if you would like information on the safe children's products I have. Good luck.
Shelly
###-###-####

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L.D.

answers from Chicago on

Hi C., I'm so sorry for your little boy - and for you and your Hubby too. I hate it when I feel helpless when my babygirl (3 yrs old) is uncomfortable and I can't do anything to fix it. I know I'm responding a little late, but may I suggest a lotion called "Renew Intensive Skin Therapy". There is also shampoos and soaps made with Melaleuca oil that is very effective and soothing for such conditions. I'v heard many testimonies about these products and I use them too. They are only available online, so let me know if you'd like more information.
Sincerely,
L.
http://www.stayinhomeandlovinit.com/cgi-bin/team.cgi?id=A...

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A.

answers from Chicago on

I just wanted to write because I am an adult who has suffered with this since infancy!! I saw there weren't many ideas for the scalp. I actually used Phisoderm skin soap/cleanser for my hair. It was odd, but worked better than any shampoo for years and years. I also build tolerance quickly to anything I use, so be aware that may also happen!! Keep many ideas handy and rotate them. My mom used to give me the oatmeal baths. She swears by them but I found them unpleasant. Phisoderm in the tub works as well. Even baby oil in the bath every now and again is a nice change. I also had to spend a year or so sleeping with vaseline on hands and feet with cotton (old-fashioned) gloves and socks. I also used it on knees and elbows. Hydrocortisone and a few prescriptions worked but those seemed short-term...OH, and I saw recommendations for Cetaphil. I actually use the body cream instead of the lotion (in a tub) I feel it lasts longer. And bathing should be in a lukewarm tub (I compare it to swimming pool water when my son needs to bathe more than once a day...) The other suggestion is a water softener. I don't know if you have one or not, but some people say soft water helps, and my skin is always better when I stay where there is one...

Good Luck!!

N.P.

answers from Chicago on

I would definitely ask the pediatrician about what you should do and get a referral to a dermatologist. It could be that from overuse of products is agitating his skin as well (I know that happens to me). I would try good ol' vasoline or baby oil, hydrate, humidifier. Good luck. Hope he feels better soon.

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J.S.

answers from Chicago on

HI C.,

I agree with the less bath, use oatmeal for the bath, switch detergents and a lotion I use on my son that none of the other commercial one's the ped suggested was a product called California baby Botanical Mosturizing Cream. Nothing else worked on him. Not Eucerin, not Aveeno, or any of the other 1/2 dozen they suggested. I buy it at Whole Foods, but just found out Target now carries the brand. He stopped scratching and bleeding and skin returned to normal. Also a house humidifier to keep the air neural versus too cold or too dry will help.

For my son's scalp, I buzzed all his hair and applied vaseline on it and combed and reapplied it until it was all out, about a few days.
Good luck

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K.

answers from Chicago on

My son has ezcema as do I, so I feel for your little guy. I would definately go to a ped dermatologist. Not sure where you live, but we went to Dr Kors out of Children's of Milwaukee. She has an office in Gurnee and we were able to get an appt within a week. My son had a rash on his face for months and his ped tried everything, we saw Dr Kors once and what she precribed helped within days. He is happily rash free now!!

My only other suggestion is to make sure everything you use is fragrance free. Laundry detergent, fabric softner, soap, shampoo, lotions. Sometimes hard to find, but this also helped my little guy.

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