Dr. Marcia Parra with a mother and baby

What to do for my baby's dry patches?

My baby's skin gets dry patches. What should I use to moisturize it? Is it safe to use coconut oil?

Answered by Marcia Para, MD, Medical Group of the Carolinas—Pediatrics—Westside

Dry patches are not uncommon during this time of year—the environment is much dryer, your heater at home is running more frequently, and all of this can cause dry skin. Sometimes, dry patches can be suggestive of eczema, but that is something that deserves an evaluation and discussion with your physician.

I tend to recommend emollients to keep babies skin moisturized. Unfortunately, your "baby lotions" are mostly water-based, so they are not great moisturizers. The thicker the lotion; the better: If a lotion can be pumped out, then it may not be thick enough to provide adequate moisturizing effects. I tend to recommend products that contain petrolatum, such as Vaseline, Eucerin. They can be thick and greasy, but they really tend to work.

As for "natural options", there is medically based evidence that there can be some benefit from sunflower seed oil, which has direct moisturizing and barrier repair properties, and coconut oil for those with atopic dermatitis (or eczema). Coconut oil can decrease staph colonization on skin, so either of these could also be a reasonable option.