Dry Skin in Children: Causes, Treatment, and When to Seek Medical Help

Dry Skin in Children: Causes, Treatment, and When to Seek Medical Help

Raising kids brings a host of problems. As a parent, you feel like you’re constantly having to put out fires and put things right. 

One common problem nowadays is dry skin. Thanks to environmental factors, kids seem to get it all the time. 

For many parents, though, it’s a significant concern. They have all sorts of questions, like is eczema contagious? And does it mean my child has a nutrient deficiency?

Fortunately, this post is here to help. We take a look at whether you should worry about your child’s dry skin and what you can potentially do about it. 

Remember, dry skin isn’t always a reason for concern. You don’t have to automatically go to the doctor every time you see a little flaking on their elbows or knees. 

What Causes Kids To Get Dry Skin? 

The first step is to run through some of the common reasons why kids get dry skin. 

Low Humidity

Top of the list is low humidity. Dry air can strip the moisture from your child’s skin, especially if they spend a lot of time indoors with heating or air conditioning. 

You can fight back against this by using a humidifier or vaporizer in your child’s room. These machines add moisture to the air, giving the skin more water it can hold onto. 

You can also avoid bathing your child too often or using hot water, as this can dry out their skin further. Heat strips the sebum from the skin’s surface, leaving it more prone to flaking. When showering them, avoid harsh soaps and gels. Use gentle lotion or cream from trusted brands. 


Another common cause of flaky skin is dehydration. Not drinking enough water can cause the skin to dry out and lead to a host of other unpleasant symptoms, such as fatigue, headache, and constipation. Make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids throughout the day, especially if they are active or sick. You can also fill their diet with high-water-content foods, like zucchini and fruit. These foods are around 90 per cent water, so they can act as drinks themselves. 

At the same time, you might want to cut down on salty or dried processed foods, like chips. These hardly contain any water at all and can make skin conditions even worse. 


Dry skin can also result from an allergic reaction to something they eat, touch, or breathe. Unfortunately, it can be a bit of a mission to figure out the underlying cause. Common allergens include dairy products, eggs, nuts, wheat, soy, pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and laundry detergents. 

The best way to figure out what allergy your child has is to take them to the doctor’s office. They can provide various tests and treatments. Meanwhile, regularly vacuum your home and keep a log of the food they eat so you can see if there is anything causing their flare-ups. 

Thyroid Issues

Your child’s skin issues could be the result of thyroid issues, a gland in the neck that produces hormones that regulate metabolism, growth, and development. If your child’s thyroid is producing too much or little of a hormone, it can affect various body functions, including the quality of their skin. 

Usually, you’ll notice other symptoms if it’s a thyroid issue, including fatigue and mood swings. Your child might also appear lethargic or hyperactive, depending on the nature of their condition. Hair loss and sensitivity to heat and cold are also potentially worrying signs and can sometimes indicate that your child isn’t getting enough calories in their food. 


Lastly, the problem might be eczema, a chronic inflammatory skin condition that causes itching, scaling and redness. There usually isn’t a great deal you can do about eczema. Most flare-ups occur because of irritants, infections, and changes in the weather. If you find out your child has eczema, just follow your doctor’s advice on treatment and how to handle it. 

Sometimes, kids get psoriasis, another chronic inflammatory skin condition that causes thick, scaly patches of skin. It’s not contagious but can be inherited. Treatments include light therapy and medications. 

What To Do

As a parent worried about your child’s dry skin, your first task is to rule out common causes. Usually, there won’t be a medical problem and kids will grow out of it with a healthy diet and environment. 

However, sometimes, there will be a more serious medical problem underlying their issues, requiring the help of a doctor. If you are concerned, you should make arrangements for an appointment so they can get any prescriptions they need.

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Dry Skin in Children: Causes, Treatment, and When to Seek Medical Help
Josie Smith
Josie Smith
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