Having a baby is perhaps the most wonderful experience in your life. But most parents would agree that it brings along a lot of anxiety and worry especially for first-time parents. To to add to the confusion you are usually bombarded with information from your family and friends.
As a parent, you want the best for your baby. And when it comes to your baby’s skin, you want to ensure that whatever you use is safe and as natural as possible. Skin is the outer covering and also the largest organ of your body. It provides a protective barrier against mechanical, and physical injury and other hazardous substances.
If your newborn has wrinkles, redness, dryness, and fuzzy skin, then he/she has healthy baby skin. Most skin imperfections will disappear over time.
As soft as your baby’s skin might be, it is equally sensitive and can get irritated very fast. Hence their skin requires proper care.
Remember that your baby’s skin is not fully developed until he/she is six months old. It is structurally different from that of young children or adults. Since your baby’s skin is immature and still developing, it is susceptible to skin infections and problems.
Here let's take a look at some of the common skin problems in newborns.
Common Baby Skin Problems
1. Diaper rash. It is characterized by redness and rashes on a baby’s bottom or genital area. It is very common and most babies will get it from time to time.
It is seen in infants and children younger than 2 years, but the rash can also be seen in some kids until the age of 3 years.
Diaper rash is marked by red, tender-looking skin over the buttocks, thighs, and genitals.
In severe cases it can cause symptoms such as mild fever, bleeding in the area of the rash, and spreading of the rash to other body parts.
It is usually caused by bacterial infections, chemical irritants, new clothes, not changing diapers frequently or wet diapers worn for a long time.
2. Cradle Cap. Also known as Seborrheic Eczema, is commonly known as dandruff in adults.
It first develops on the face, neck, or around the nose and at the scalp line, causing extremely greasy pink or yellow patches, which are often covered by scales. It is mostly not painful or itchy.
Cradle cap may occur as a result of excessive oil production by skin glands surrounding the hair follicles (tunnel-shaped sacks that hold the hair) of your baby.
This commonly occurs in babies who are 2 weeks to 12 months old.
3. Eczema. Also known as 'atopic dermatitis', it is more common in infants and children.
It is one of the most bothersome and chronic disorders of the skin.
The arms, and the region behind the knees, are the commonly affected sites.
This is characterized by extremely itchy, red patches on the skin that may sometimes swell, crack and ooze out clear fluid or even blood.
Eczema generally causes dry skin in babies and can have flare-ups.
6 Things to Remember About Skin Care for Newborn Babies
1. Knowing their skin. Their skin is very different from grown-ups. It’s thinner, more fragile, sensitive and tends to absorb and lose water faster. So, it is important that you choose your baby care products wisely.
2. Cleansing and shampooing. There are so many myths and customs related to the bathing of newborns. Just remember that when it comes to your baby, keeping things to the bare minimum might be a good idea.
Most babies born in hospitals are cleaned by the nursing staff after delivery. The creamy white layer over the skin or the vernix caseosa can be left to shed off on its own.
Once home, the requirement for bathing will depend on the climate and local customs. Giving your newborn a bath, thrice a week should be enough. Make sure you use lukewarm water to bathe your baby.
Use mild, syndet (or synthetic) based non-perfumed cleansers and moisturize your baby with a bland moisturizer, immediately after the bath.
3. Massaging your baby. Massaging is always encouraged, unless your baby has some severe skin condition that may aggravate with a massage. Massaging your baby is a ritual that you will treasure and will help you bond with your baby.
Research also shows that massaging calms your baby and helps them sleep better.
Which oil should you use? Coconut, sunflower, safflower oils are good and non-irritating.
Avoid mustard, olive, almond, soybean oil, etc., as these can irritate your baby’s skin.
4. Choosing the right products. As parents, you want to limit your child’s exposure to harmful chemicals. But an organic or natural product is not necessarily safer or better and this could be due to several reasons.
Checking with your paediatrician will be the best bet. Products need to be stabilized to retain their effect.
So before you pick those expensive organic labels off the shelf and smear it on your precious one, make sure it is needed and safe.
5. Opting for safe wipes. Allergic reactions related to preservatives are on the rise in infants. Wipes contain different ingredients which have changed notably over the last decade.
You can opt for pH-buffered wipes, fragrance, and preservative-free, non-drying wipes.
Contact dermatitis is more likely to occur with older formulations containing alcohol, sub-optimal surfactants and fragrances.
For parents who use wipes, it will be heartening to know that research has shown that new generation wipes do not damage or dehydrate the skin and are equivalent, if not better, to cotton and water as cleansing agents.
6. Knowing what to keep in your baby bag. Though not directly related to skincare, it is still very important to mention it here.
Make sure you carry a changing pad, an extra diaper, a change of clothes for your baby, wipes, towel, sanitizer, a biodegradable waste bag for soiled diapers (diapers with faeces and urine).
You can also carry a bottle of formula, or expressed milk (if you are not breastfeeding) and a light blanket. Don’t forget to pack an extra set of clothes for yourself in case of a spill up and moisturizer for your hands after using wipes or sanitizers.
Being a parent is a tough job. But don’t obsess about it. Relax and cherish every moment with your baby for you won’t realize how time flies!
Keep your baby’s skin hydrated and apply a baby lotion or moisturizer from time to time. Consult your paediatrician to know more about your baby’s skin care.
Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.