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How to Prevent Wind Burn in Toddlers

by Shellie Braeuner, studioD

Nearly all parents love to see their toddlers come inside with pink cheeks after a day of play in nippy air. However, those cheeks may not feel so good after the child has been indoors for awhile. The problem may be wind burn. The dry air of winter combined with high winds can sap the moisture right out of your kiddo's skin when playing outside. The best way to prevent wind burn is to protect your little one's skin indoors and out.

Limit both time and temperature for baths. Soaking in hot water may feel good, but it strips your toddler’s skin of natural oils. Pediatrician Dr. Dawn Davis of the Mayo Clinic encourages parents to limit baths to every other day. She also suggests keeping the water warm, but not hot. Test the water against your wrist. If the water feels warm to your wrist, add a little cold water to cool the tub.

Use soap sparingly. Soap is designed to strip oils from skin. In cold weather, your tot’s skin needs all the oil it can get. Use mild soap only in those places that get dirty, such as the hands, genitals and face. This allows the largest part of your child’s skin to remain protected by natural oils.

Pat the skin dry and use a moisturizer. Pediatrician William Sears encourages parent to blot the skin dry rather than rubbing briskly with a towel. This leaves a thin layer of moisture on the child’s skin after bathing. Immediately cover the moist skin with a moisturizer that traps the fluid in the skin. Davis encourages the use of petroleum jelly to act as a sealant for the moist skin.

Apply moisturizer before dressing for the cold. Sears points out that moisturizer seals the skin against the moisture-sapping elements.

Cover as much skin as possible while outside. Use a coat, hat, gloves and scarf to protect as much of the child’s skin as possible. Clothing prevents the wind from stealing moisture from your child’s skin.

Hydrate skin from the inside. In cold weather, your kiddo may not get hot and thirsty in the same way she does in the summer. That doesn’t change her need for fluids. Sears reminds parents that drinking water helps to keep children hydrated. She needs at least an ounce of water for every pound of weight per day.

Items you will need
  •  Mild soap
  •  Bath towel
  •  Moisturizer or petroleum jelly
  •  Coat
  •  Hat
  •  Gloves
  •  Scarf


  • Sears encourages parents to add fish to the child's diet. Seafood is naturally high in essential oils that protect healthy skin development.
  • Windburn can be exacerbated by dry air in the home. If your house is dry, try using a vaporizer to add moisture to the air.


  • If the child's skin becomes cracked or inflamed, seek the advice of her pediatrician.

About the Author

Based in Nashville, Shellie Braeuner has been writing articles since 1986 on topics including child rearing, entertainment, politics and home improvement. Her work has appeared in "The Tennessean" and "Borderlines" as well as a book from Simon & Schuster. Braeuner holds a Master of Education in developmental counseling from Vanderbilt University.

Photo Credits

  • Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images