Treating Children’s Eczema in the Dry Colorado Climate

During the hot Colorado summer, filled with pool days and hiking treks, and its dry winter months when the snowy mountain days ensue, keeping your skin well and moisturized can feel like an uphill battle. It can be particularly difficult when skin conditions, such as eczema, arise for you and your family. Even in these cases of particularly dry, irritated skin, and even in Colorado’s arid climate, it is possible to maintain nourished, healthy skin. 

“Eczema is a skin condition characterized by itchy, red, rough patches of skin,” says Dr. Holly C. Paugh, MD, FAAD, and Board certified pediatric and general dermatologist with Dermatology Center of the Rockies. “It can be caused by multiple factors, including environmental interactions, and flares up when the skin barrier doesn’t function as well as it should.”

According to Dr. Paugh, eczema is very common in children, with about 60% of eczema patients being diagnosed in their first year and 85% being diagnosed by age five. While eczema often improves gradually as children age, the discomfort that comes with outbreaks can be treated and properly managed every day with a variety of practical solutions.

“Here in Colorado, it’s especially important to use a moisturizer twice daily since the climate is so dry,” says Dr. Paugh. 

She recommends that children use only mild soaps when washing, apply moisturizing cream within five minutes of getting out of the bath or shower, and stick to creams made for sensitive skin with fewer ingredients and fewer fragrances. Depending on the severity of eczema, topical medications and antihistamines can also be used as appropriate.

In some cases, however, eczema needs to be professionally treated. Dr. Paugh notes that, if over-the-counter creams have not helped during an outbreak, visiting a dermatologist to design a treatment plan is advisable. If you notice open sores, crusting or yellow drainage from areas affected by eczema, it’s time to call the dermatologist, as escalating eczema can lead to secondary skin infections if left untreated.

While some of the causes of eczema are genetic, there are ways to lessen the severity of an eczema outbreak. Throughout the year (yes, all year long), wear sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays, and stay shaded from the sun when possible. Be diligent in establishing a moisturizing regimen as well to ensure that you, and your family, maintain healthy, clear skin no matter the season and climate.