21 Apr Baby Skin Care & Why It Matters
The Care and Maintenance of Delicate Baby Skin
Baby skin is the gold standard when it comes to soft, smooth and kissable skin. When newborns first emerge, the skin may be wrinkly, reddish and covered with a natural protective layer called the vernix, which falls off naturally in a few days. It is normal for newborn skin to exhibit generalized peeling as a reaction to the change from fluid to dry environment.
Characteristics of Baby Skin
Baby skin is extremely delicate and sensitive to touch and changes in temperature. Structurally, baby skin will have the same number of cell layers as adult skin. However, the connections between dermal and epidermal layers are not fully developed at this stage. The pH of baby skin is higher while melanin production is much lower compared to adult skin. This means that baby skin is sensitive to touch, giving parents more reason to nuzzle their babies.
Overall, the baby’s immune system is still developing, so it is important to proceed carefully when caring for baby’s skin.
Caring for Delicate Skin
There is a tendency, among new parents especially, to overprotect babies in every way possible, including frequent cleaning, application of baby products and constant scrubbing.
It is not advisable to bathe your baby more than three times in a week. Bathing strips the skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness or chafing. Natural oils help to protect baby’s skin from irritants and allergens that may lead to bouts of uncomfortable eczema.
In the first year, before your baby starts to move around actively, babies do not get too dirty so a sponge bath may be sufficient to keep the skin clean and refreshed. The diaper area should be cleaned thoroughly with a damp sponge or wipes and without using soaps at this point. A sponge dampened in a very mild solution of water and skin cleanser can be used on the folds of baby’s skin, which are the parts where dirt and grime tend to accumulate. While you’re at it, make it a point to clean your baby’s mouth even if teething has not started yet. Use a clean soft cloth to scrub gently the gums, tongue and the roof of the mouth.
Applying Baby Products
Baby products should not be used excessively especially in newborns. When the immune system is still developing, the body will not be able to fend off the ill effects of skin irritants.
If you have to use baby products, choose items that are designated as hypoallergenic or recommended for sensitive skin. Use only a small amount and remove any excess spot before dressing your baby.
Using Sun Protection
Protection from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays is important for delicate skin, but application of sunscreen formulations is not recommended during your baby’s first year. Instead, avoid exposing your baby to the outdoors when the sun is most intense around noon and early afternoon. For these occasions, dress your child in SPF-treated garments to add a layer of sun protection. Pre-wash all garments before putting them on your baby as many fabrics are treated with chemicals.
Common Skin Problems
No matter how cautious you are, your baby may experience some skin issues as they grow.
The skin in the diaper area may break down if it is constantly left to soak in a soiled or wet diaper. Irritated skin chafes more easily, aggravating your child’s discomfort. To prevent diaper rash, check diapers frequently and change as often as needed. Use no-alcohol wipes or soft cloth, and make sure to air dry the skin completely before you fit a fresh diaper on your baby. It may be helpful to apply petroleum jelly or an equivalent product to prevent further irritation.
Eczema is a reddish itchy rash that typically manifests on the face, elbows, scalp and at the back of the knees. Try to cut down on bathing, and apply moisturizer as needed. Other than the essentials, limit the use of skin products, and dress your baby in clothes that are comfortable and soft on the skin.
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