Proactive Prevention: Moisturizing Creams
When selecting a moisturizer, you should consider selecting one that is water based. It should also have a high-oil content. High-oil content moisturizers provide better hydration for the skin barrier and help to keep it protected. Moisturizer should also be fragrance and perfume free and hypoallergenic. Some suggest thick creams or ointments, others suggest petroleum jelly, or both.
From my experience
For my daughter's atopic dermatitis, I use Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Night Balm mixed with Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream during the winter (and cool fall) months. However, the Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Night Balm is much too hot for the summer time and most springtime months so I use the Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream during summer and spring.
I use hydrocortisone when she is having an AD flare. During cooler seasons such as winter and fall, I use the hydrocortisone in conjunction with the night balm.
Other products I have tried are Aquaphor (during the winter) and Eucerine. They were a bit heavier for my baby. While they did help with her atopic dermatitis, the Aquaphor also caused her to sweat at night.
Sweat can also cause or contribute to flare ups. So, if your child is prone to sweat, I'd suggest avoiding petroleum jelly or petroleum-based products during warmer months as well.
While natural products may be great for typical skin, these products often have plant-based products, extracts, or fragrances that cause irritation or flare-ups for people with atopic dermatitis. I have found that to be the case for my daughter with a few natural products I have tried for her skin.
No matter which products you chose, I would also suggest consulting your doctor or dermatologist prior to trying new products or your child's (or your) skin.
How often should I moisturize?
Skin should be moisturized at least 2, preferably three times a day to keep skin hydrated and help soothe and prevent dryness, irritation and itchiness. For my baby, when I usually try to moisturize three times daily and moisturize flared up areas more often with hydrocortisone.
When should I moisturize?
We moisturize three minutes after bath time each night, right before bed time. Moisturizing right before bed time permits the skin to retain the moisture better.
After bath time, child (or you) should be patted dry with a soft towel (which has been washed in gentle, fragrance free clothing washing powder and rinsed thoroughly). Once your child (or you) is (are) mostly dry (a bit of dampness is fine) you can begin to moisturize.
Other preventative measures
Keep your nails or your child's nails cut low. Scratching with long nails can cause irritation and breaking of skin. When my daughter was a younger infant, I put baby gloves on her at night to prevent scratching.
There are many other products and bath routines ideas. But whichever you choose, if you end up with the best possible results for your child, keep it consistent!
Have you been diagnosed with atopic dermatitis?