Minding Your Child’s Health This Winter

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Minding Your Child’s Health This Winter

— An Interview with Pediatrician Ding Lam, MD

Winter brings along cold weather and the onset of some dreaded childhood illnesses, but caring for your child’s health in wintertime doesn’t have to be so hard.  We asked noted pediatrician Dr. Ding Lam to help decipher many important child healthcare issues:

Q:  Why is winter an illness-prone season for children?

Interestingly, newborn babies don’t get sick easily because they are provided with antibodies from their mothers before birth.  However, the level of antibody drops to half by four months, and by six months, it will almost diminish.  That’s why parents usually notice their babies starting to get sick after 6 months.   

During cold winter season, we tend to close all the windows and stay indoor longer, since indoor air is not well circulated, germs and viruses such as cold and flu spread quickly, especially in daycare and schools.   At home, people take hot water showers may set off dry skin problems, while staying indoor too long can cause a vitamin D deficiency due to lack of sun exposure.  

Q: My kid’s skin is really dry and itchy in winter, what can I do?

Children having chronic skin problems like eczema are getting more common in recent years.  Eczema is mostly hereditary, and is related to allergy and asthma.   The more severe form of eczema is called “Atopic Dermatitis (AD)”, its patients lack several compounds in their genes, such as Filaggrin, causing dry skin surface to crack and lose moisture, as nerve endings are exposed, skin becomes very itchy.  

In worse cases, a cycle inflammatory reactions and secondary infection of yeast and fungus may develop to complicate the issue.  Although eczema cannot be completely healed, fortunately, treatments are available.

Our Suggestions:

> A new over-the-counter cream called Cetaphil Restoraderm has added ingredients to replace the missing compounds Filaggrin and Ceramide

> Keep skin protected with clothing, increase the humidity of the skin

> Select fabric carefully, dress your child in loose-fitting cotton clothes, always wash new clothes before wearing

> Keep air moist with steam vaporizer, do not use cold mist humidifier, which can get mold contamination

> Raise room humidity to 60-70%, keep a humidity meter at home

> Avoid overheating at bedtime, wear lightweight pajamas and keep temperature at comfortable level

> Do not use hot water for showers or baths, do not take long bath

> Do not use soap (too alkaline), always use lightly acidic cleanser

> Apply moisturizer smartly – for healthy skin, let the skin dry and allow it to form its natural oil, so apply moisturizer later; but for problem skin area, apply cream on wet skin to help prevent moisture loss.

Full Interview content: coming soon

More topics: childhood asthma and bronchitis, demystifying flu vaccines, understanding viruses, vitamin D deficiency and supplement, and more.