Healthy baby skin – everything you need to know

New parents
Mar 18, 2021

Our skin changes our entire life, starting from the moment we are born. Babies start their life floating in amniotic fluid in their mother’s womb and when they are born, their skin suddenly has to readjust to a new and more dry environment. We have gathered some of the most important facts you might want to know about your baby’s skin to be able to care for it daily.

One of the most important things to know about baby skin is the fact that it is different from adult skin and should therefore be cared for accordingly. It has a different pH value than adult skin, it is thinner, needs more moisture and in general it is a bit more vulnerable and exposed to the environment we live in and can therefore become dry or rough. The softness of baby skin can depend on when the baby was born. Premature babies have a lot of vernix caseosa on their skin when they are born, compared to babies born in week 41/42 whose skin more easily become dry. Even though baby skin will quickly adapt to the surrounding environment, some functions like the barrier of the skin will not develop until the baby is some months old.

Therefore a new baby’s skin can be extra prone to conditions like nappy rash or other types of skin infections, and you will probably experience different types of skin conditions in your baby as he or she grows older. The majority of these conditions are normal, but some might be painful or irritating and need a bit of extra attention. Read on to learn more about some of the most common skin conditions in babies.

Dry skin

Within the first days after your baby is born their skin can start flaking or peeling and the severity also depends on when they are born. This might not look nice, but no need to worry, it is perfectly normal and all part of the readjustment from having lived in fluid for nine months. Often this type of peeling will occur on your baby’s hands, wrists, soles, feet, and ankles. This skin condition will pass on its own and does not usually require extra care. However, you can apply a bit of baby oil to the exposed areas to soften the skin and reduce some of the peeling.

If the dryness does not disappear on its own within a few weeks, your baby’s skin might be sensitive and need extra care. Make sure to keep the skin moisturized and to only use gentle baby products designed for sensitive baby skin. If in doubt, or if the condition of your baby’s skin worsens, always contact your family doctor to make sure your baby is not suffering from eczema or another skin condition that needs medical treatment.

Eczema

Eczema is a term that covers several different skin conditions where the skin can become red, itchy, and inflamed. The most common type that affects children is atopic dermatitis which is a chronic skin condition without a known cure. Luckily, a lot of children will outgrow this condition. If your kid has eczema, there are different types of treatments that can help soothe the skin and ease symptoms.

According to nationaleczema.org, treating most kinds of eczema is about:

  • Knowing what triggers your baby’s eczema so that you can avoid exposure
  • Giving your baby a daily bath at max 37°C (too warm baths can dry out the skin) and moisturize the skin to lock in moisture and protect the skin
  • Remembering that if your doctor prescribes medicine or other remedies against eczema, it is crucial to follow the treatment your doctor has ordered to ease symptoms

If your child has eczema, try keeping them from scratching as this will make the eczema and itching worse. To avoid scratching you can try to:

  • Trim your child's nails as often as possible
  • Put mittens or socks on your child's hands.
  • Distract your child by reading a book or playing.

You might also want to steer clear of woolen clothes. Wool is a fantastic material to regulate your baby’s body temperature and keep them warm, but it can irritate the skin and trigger itching and other symptoms of eczema you want to keep to a minimum – especially at night. Look for clothes made of cotton instead.

If you suspect that your child might have eczema (it can be hard to determine on your own) always consult your doctor to have the condition diagnosed and get advice on possible treatment and care for your baby’s skin.

Read more about treating eczema here and always follow your doctor’s advice.

Yeast infections

Newborns and toddlers can get different forms of yeast infections in skin folds. Yeast infections can occur in armpits, necks, and the nappy area and look like red areas with flaking and minor nobs with pus around the edges. This type of rash can be really uncomfortable for your child.

A wet nappy is a perfect breeding ground for a yeast infection. Therefore, make sure to use a baby nappy with a top-dry layer and good and fast absorbency as well as change your baby’s nappy timely. A yeast infection in the nappy area can easily be mistaken for a nappy rash, but some pointers can tell you if your baby is suffering from a nappy rash or a yeast infection:

  • If a nappy rash lasts more than three days it is probably a yeast infection
  • A nappy rash looks like flat, red areas/splotches
  • A yeast infection looks like multiple red nobs that “spreads into each other”

A yeast infection will not pass on its own but are usually treated with an antifungal ointment that is applied directly on the infected area and the infection will often clear up within two weeks.

The infamous nappy rash

A nappy rash looks similar to a yeast infection, but it is a result of a too moist and warm environment in your baby’s nappy. nappy rash occurs when your baby’s sensitive skin comes in contact with urine and feces for too long. A rash like this can become really sore and the best thing is to try to prevent it – or to treat it as soon as you discover it. Read more about nappy rash, treatment, and prevention in this blog.

Heat rash

Heat rash is a rash that appears when your baby’s skin becomes too warm and it sweats. It often occurs in areas with friction; on the belly or back where clothes rub against the skin or in skin folds like the neck fold, elbow, knee creases, armpits, and inner thighs.

To avoid heat rashes, make sure that your baby is not dressed too warm, the clothes are not too tight, and steer clear of heavy clothes that won’t allow the skin to breathe. Rather choose light, soft, and cotton-based fabrics. If your baby is “a warm child” (some are warmer than others), make sure that the room where your baby sleeps is cool. This will be more comfortable for your child and minimize the risk of heat rashes. The best skin treatment for heat rash is to gently wash the skin with mild products and hydrate the skin afterwards with a rich body lotion to protect the skin. Heat rashes often disappear on their own, but consult your doctor if the rash does not disappear, if your baby is unwell or has a fever.

Good advice for healthy baby skin

Knowing your baby’s skin and also knowing a bit about different rashes and skin conditions will enable you to care for your baby’s skin and give it the best conditions possible. Here are some of our top tips to healthy baby skin:

Choose the right nappy and skin care products

Imagine if you had to wear a nappy 24/7? It should be a really good one, right? Disposable nappies come in all shapes and sizes and they all have different features and compositions. When choosing a nappy for your newborn, try finding a breathable and skin-friendly one that absorbs urine quickly. A breathable nappy will help minimize the risk of unpleasant rashes as the temperature between your baby’s skin and the nappy will not become too warm, more fragile, and thus more exposed to urine and feces. Other factors like changing your baby’s nappy regularly, can also help minimize the occurrence of rashes. Keeping the skin dry is key to preventing nappy rashes.

The skin care products you use on your baby also have an effect on your baby’s skin. When shopping for baby skin care look for natural and certified products without perfume and colour that are specifically designed for sensitive baby skin. And since you never know how your baby’s skin will react to different products – even those designed for babies – always use common sense and maybe try to apply a small amount on your baby’s skin to see how it reacts.

Skin care routines for healthy baby skin

Nappy changes

  1. Change the nappy frequently – choose a nappy with a handy wetness indicator that will let you know when it’s time for a change.
  2. Change your baby’s nappy immediately if it is very wet or your baby has pooped.
  3. Gently clean your baby’s skin. Use a soft washcloth or sensitive baby wipes. If you use soap, choose a mild, skin-friendly type with the right pH value and without perfume and colour. Make sure that the soap is rinsed off.
  4. Gently pat the skin dry or let the baby bum air dry.
  5. Use a barrier or soothing cream in the nappy area regularly to maintain the barrier of the skin and help protect the skin against urine and feces.
  6. Use soft, skin-friendly, and breathable baby nappies.
  7. Put on the nappy correctly – neither too tight nor too loose.
  8. Take off the nappy a few times a day and let your baby’s bum air dry. This is a natural and gentle way to dry your baby’s skin. To prevent accidents, place your baby on a soft towel or a disposable absorbent changing mat or bed mat.

Bath time

Unless your baby is dirty, there is no need to bathe your child every single day. This can dry out and irritate the skin. For eczema children, a daily bath followed by a moisturizing lotion can however have a positive effect on the symptoms.

For newborns and smaller children, using a nurturing bath oil in the bathwater can be a gentle way to give their skin the moisture it needs. Add 2-3 drops of baby oil in lukewarm water and bathe your child for 5-10 minutes. Check with your elbow to see if the water has the right temperature (approximately 37°C) and make sure the small child is supported – either via your arm or a baby bath seat for the bathtub. Your baby should be comfortable and warm at all times, which will make the bath situation nice and relaxing for the both of you. Tip: try avoid using too much oil as this can make the bathtub really slippery.

When your child gets bigger, they will enjoy having fun in the bathtub with different bath toys. Tip: try finding a sensitive – no-tear shampoo, like our Bambo Nature Hair and Body Wash. This gentle all-in-one shampoo will not sting the eyes but instead make bath time fun. Finish with a nice and relaxing massage with a nurturing body lotion. Your kid will love you for it!
REMEMBER to never leave your baby or child unattended during baths.

Baby skin and the weather

Like adult skin, baby skin also is affected by the weather – if not even more. During summer the risk of heat rashes and nappy rashes becomes even greater as your baby might be dressed too warm, is very active or the nappy area simply becomes too warm. Be attentive towards sun exposure, your baby’s clothing, fluid intake and try leaving that cute little baby bum without a nappy as much as possible to let the bottom air dry. When it comes to healthy baby bums - nothing beats fresh air.

In the wintertime your baby’s skin needs extra moisture. Cold weather can be especially hard on those chubby baby cheeks and make them red, dry and windy. Therefore, make sure to apply a thick barrier of soothing cream on your baby’s cheeks before going outside, or according to need.

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