Baby skin health
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Bringing a baby home is one of the most beautiful experiences for any human being. It does not matter if you are a first-time parent or not, it is always an incredible feeling. Yet, it can also be overwhelming as there is so much to learn.
Skin health in babies is often a cause of concern for parents. Babies cannot express their symptoms so seeing a rash or eczema on the baby’s body, can cause many concerns in a caregiver’s mind. Some reactions are worse than others and as a parent you need to trust your gut. So, if you are concerned, visit your healthcare provider.
It is important for you to understand what to expect in this process during the first year of your baby’s life so you may know what to do about it.
NEWBORN SKINBack to top
The newborn stage starts from birth up until two months. Newborns have very sensitive skin and are usually born swollen or slightly puffy from being in the womb. They have a white layer of skin called vernix, which peels off within the first week. Sometimes if a baby is overdue or close to the 42-week mark, it has peeled off in the womb. There is no necessary treatment for this process. The skin is very delicate and can even slightly peel for the first month in different parts of the body, this is also normal and is no cause for concern.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO KEEP NEWBORN’S SKIN HEALTHY?Back to top
- Avoid everyday baths: Newborns do not need to be bathed every day. In fact, for the first few weeks of life, a damp cloth “bath” should be enough to keep your little one clean.
- When bathing, try use unscented products or products for sensitive skin. Do not leave the baby too long in the bath as it could cause dry skin. When drying the baby, pat dry softly and moisturize gently.
- Dress the baby in loose fitting clothing made of cotton, preferably. It is best for the skin to breathe and not have a constant irritant on it.
- Avoid detergents or having the baby exposed to cleaning products or harsh chemicals. While this is important at every stage it is more so for newborns, whose skin is highly absorbent and sensitive.
During this stage your baby will still have a piece of the umbilical cord attached to them. For fast healing it is best to leave it to dry naturally and try not to touch. Make sure to not cover the chord with the nappy.
If you notice bleeding, puss or excessive redness around the cord, visit your healthcare provider.
COMMON CONCERNS DURING THE INFANT AND TODDLER STAGE.Back to top
From two months onwards your little one is past the newborn stage and goes into the infant stage. This stage will last up to eleven months. From then on, she/he will be considered a toddler. You might see something like baby-acne from hormonal changes, cradle cap which can be caused by excessive oil production and even some contact dermatitis appearing. While all of this can still happen in the newborn stage, it is more common after the first 6 to 8 weeks of life and it can reoccur throughout your baby’s first year.
Cradle Cap is usually described as yellow scales on a baby’s head. It is also called seborrheic dermatitis; this is caused by excess oil production around the hair follicles, it can also appear on the forehead and eyebrows. Cradle cap can extend to the cheeks occasionally. Usually cradle cap resolves on its own, however you can speak to your health care provider about creams that can be applied.
What can you do at home for cradle cap.
At this stage bath time is probably happening more regularly if not every day. Bath time is often part of the bedtime routine as it calms baby and relaxes them for the evening. As you get ready for bath time you can apply an emollient or baby oil onto the head and brush the hair gently. Once you are in the bath you can add a baby shampoo and massage. Make sure to rinse thoroughly, this should assist in the scales coming off. Do not apply more oil after the bath. You can repeat this daily as this will promote the natural shedding of the skin and the scales will start to disappear.
Contact Dermatitis: Is an allergic reaction of the skin coming into contact with something that has caused an irritation. This can be anything from a fabric, to a detergent, etc. It can even occur when your baby is lying on your skin and you have recently put on perfume, a new cream or new soap. This can cause an uncomfortable and itchy rash and it can occur days after exposure. Try to identify the cause of the dermatitis and adjust accordingly.
Rashes: Rashes are a common term for an abnormal change in the skin color and texture. There are many different types of rashes that can be caused by heat, food allergies, friction, dampness, chemicals, fragrances and fabrics. They are usually no cause for concern and can be dealt with by identifying the allergens, or applying an ointment or a cream containing zinc or a topical treatment prescribed by a doctor.
Other types of rashes include eczema, hives, drool rash, diaper rash, hand foot and mouth disease and thrush.
What are emergency signs?
- The rash lasts longer than a week
- It spreads in the body
- It is accompanied by a fever
Visit your pediatrician immediately.
PRACTICAL TIPSBack to top
Baby’s skin can be a concern but most of the time it heals naturally. You can take the following precautions to keep your baby’s skin healthy!
- Do frequent diaper changes
- Keep the skin clean and dry
- Use irritant free laundry detergents or one especially designed for babies
- Dress your baby appropriately for the weather
- Keep track of skin reactions to foods
- Use a cream containing zinc
Remember the skin is the largest organ of the human body. A healthy skin is a reflection of a healthy body and a healthy baby!
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