In the midst of Australia's coldest winter months, it's important to protect your skin against the elements -- particularly young and delicate skin that is prone to eczema.

Baby eczema can affect children all year round, but symptoms commonly flare up during winter. This is because more time is spent indoors which can dry out the skin, while a lack of sunlight reduces the amount of vitamin D that young skin needs to help it heal -- leading to persistently sore and itchy patches.

To help your child's skin adapt better to the winter weather, try the following steps to help relieve baby eczema.

Increase the humidity levels at home

As a result of constant heating in the home during winter, indoor humidity levels are lowered, and this can significantly dry out your child's skin. You can prevent your child's eczema from being aggravated further by increasing indoor humidity whenever possible. This can be done in the following ways:

  • Lowering your thermostat by one or two degrees to reduce your baby's exposure to dry air
  • Airing damp laundry over chairs or a clothes airer to replace lost moisture. Avoid drying clothes on a radiator or near a heater, as condensation aggravates eczema further and can lead to the growth of mould spores.
  • Leave windows open on milder days to let fresh, moist air circulate throughout your home.
  • Invest in a humidifier for your baby's room. Many humidifiers come in a colourful and fun animal design to make it toddler-friendly.

Switch up your baby's skin care routine

The way in which you normally bathe and moisturise your baby throughout the year should take a different approach during the colder months. Baths, for example, should be shorter and less frequent to prevent their skin from drying out. Babies may need daily baths in summer, but during winter, your baby's skin can actually benefit from cutting them down to as little as 2-3 times a week.

In between baths, you can keep their skin soft and supple by using a natural baby-friendly moisturiser. Organic moisturisers are best, as these are free from parabens and often contain antioxidants that help to protect and hydrate dry skin. Once you've found the right baby moisturiser, you should apply it as often as needed to your baby's skin. Using warm hands, you should massage baby moisturiser into their damp skin after a bath. You should also make sure you're protecting exposed skin when out and about, such as their face and hands. Baby eczema can sometimes cause flaking between fingers, so make sure you always have some moisturising lotion on the go.

Invest in an eczema-friendly wardrobe

When it comes to a winter wardrobe for your child, make sure they are made from eczema-friendly materials. Loose cotton clothes are a good base layer for your child's winter outfits. To ensure they keep warm but not hot, layer cotton with fleece clothing instead of scratchy woollen and wool-mix fibres. The natural lanolin in the fibres of wool can cause allergic reactions and irritate eczema. Fleece hats, gloves and scarves are a much softer and kind alternative for keeping eczema-prone skin warm. Also, avoid bulky layers, as extra fabric can press on sore skin, while the added heat will only cause further itching and discomfort

When it comes to caring for your baby's clothes in winter, washing them correctly will help keep itching and discomfort at bay. Any new clothes should be immediately washed to remove the starch and any other abrasive chemicals used in the manufacturing process.

All clothes, either store-bought or handmade, should be washed in a sensitive and unscented non-biological brand of laundry detergent. If your baby is particularly sensitive to detergents, be sure to use a pre-wash and an extra rinse to rid their clothes of any residue that could exacerbate their eczema.

Hopefully, these skin care tips can help alleviate your baby's symptoms and keep them as comfortable as possible throughout the harsh winter months. Remember that baby eczema affects every child differently, so if your child's skin doesn't improve after trying these steps, consult your local doctors for further treatment and advice.