How to Treat Your Kid’s Skin Allergy

Medically Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on December 20, 2020

Breaking the itch-scratch cycle is key. You want to keep their skin healthy, moist, and clean. Try these tips:

  • Dry the drool. For babies, spit can be a constant cause of skin irritation.
  • Be gentle. Use fragrance- and dye-free cleansers and soaps. Harsh soaps can dry skin and break down its protective barrier.
  • Clip nails short. Babies and most kids (and adults!) can’t fight the urge to scratch that itch. That won’t make the itch go away, but it will make raw, infected skin more likely.
  • Bathe. Use lukewarm (not hot) water and avoid bubble baths. Keep baths short (3 to 5 minutes). A lengthy soak can dry out skin.
  • Moisturize after a bath. Let them air dry or gently pat their skin dry. Then use an ointment or cream, and don't be afraid to slather it on often. Ointments are more effective than creams, and creams are more effective than lotions. Lotion tends to be watery; oily ointments stick better and are better moisturizers.
  • Dress them in soft cotton fabrics. Rough clothes can make them itch, which will make them scratch.
  • Spot and treat an infection. If you see symptoms of a skin infection -- pus or very red, sore, raised, hot, or crusty skin -- call your doctor.

Your doctor may prescribe a topical steroid cream for their skin. Ask when and how to safely use it. Your doctor can decide if an antihistamine might help to ease the itch. If so, it may also help your child sleep.

Show Sources


American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

American Academy of Family Physicians: "Skin Rashes and Other Changes."

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

National Eczema Association.

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NHS): "Atopic eczema in children."

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: "Handout on Health: Atopic Dermatitis."

UpToDate: "Contact dermatitis (including latex dermatitis) (Beyond the Basics)," "Hives (urticarial) (Beyond the Basics)."

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