There’s nothing quite like the soft, delicate skin of a baby. And nothing like a cranky infant irritated by diaper rash, cradle cap, or any other skin condition. While your baby is perfect, your baby’s skin may not be. Many babies are prone to skin irritation in the first few months. Here’s how to spot and treat common baby skin problems.
Newborns Are Prone to Rashes
The good news about your newborn’s rashes: most cause no harm and go away on their own. While caring for baby’s skin may seem complex, all you really need to know are three simple things
Which conditions you can treat at home.
Which need medical treatment.
How you can prevent your baby from experiencing skin problems to begin with.
If your baby has red skin around the diaper area, you’re dealing with diaper rash. Most diaper rashes occur because of skin irritation from diapers that are too tight, wet diapers left on for too long, or a particular brand of detergent, diapers, or baby wipes. Avoid this by keeping the diaper area aired as long as possible, changing your baby’s diaper as soon as it’s wet, washing the area with a warm cloth, and applying zinc oxide cream. If it aggravates, you need to see a doctor.
Pimples & Whiteheads
Baby “acne” is not really acne, like the kind teenagers get. In fact, recent research suggests that it may be related to yeast, not oil production. Pimples on your baby’s nose and cheeks usually clear up by themselves in a few weeks. So you don’t need to treat baby acne or use a lotion.
Lots of babies have birthmarks – more than one in ten as a matter of fact. Birthmarks, or areas of skin discoloration, are not inherited. They may be there when your baby is born, or they might show up a few months later. Generally birthmarks are nothing to worry about and need no treatment. But if your baby’s birthmark worries you, talk to your paediatrician.
Atopic Dermatitis or Eczema
Eczema is an itchy, red rash that may or may not occur in response to a trigger. It is common in children who have a family history of asthma, allergies, or atopic dermatitis. Eczema may occur on your baby’s face as a weepy rash. Over time it becomes thick, dry, and scaly. You may also see eczema on the elbow, chest, arms, or behind the knees. To treat it, identify and avoid any triggers. Use gentle soaps and detergents and apply moderate amounts of moisturizers. More severe eczema should be treated with prescribed medication. Avoid triggers that dry the skin; woollens, heaters, too much of hot water for bathing etc.
Excess Oil Causes Cradle Cap
Cradle cap can show up during your baby’s first or second month, and usually clears up within the first year. Also called Seborrheic Dermatitis, cradle cap is caused in part by excess oil, and shows up as a scaly, waxy, red rash on the scalp, eyebrows, eyelids, the sides of the nose, or behind the ears. Your paediatrician will recommend the best treatment for cradle cap, which may include a special shampoo, baby oil, or certain creams and lotions.
Prickly Heat Causes Irritated Skin
Showing up as small pinkish-red bumps, prickly heat usually appears on the parts of your baby’s body that are prone to sweating, like the neck, diaper area, armpits, and skin folds. A cool, dry environment and loose-fitting clothes are all you need to treat prickly heat rash – which can even be brought on in winter when your baby is over-bundled. Try dressing your baby in layers that you can remove when things heat up.
Infant Skin Doesn’t Need Powdering
Babies can inhale the very fine grains of talcum powder or the larger particles of cornstarch, which could cause lung problems. So it’s best to avoid using these on your infant.
Laundry Tips for Baby Skin Care
Avoiding skin rashes will keep your baby smiling and happy. Use a gentle detergent to wash everything that touches your infant’s skin, from bedding and blankets, to towels and even your own clothes. You’ll cut down on the likelihood of your baby developing irritated or itchy skin.
Yellow Skin Can Mean Jaundice
Usually occurring two or three days after birth, jaundice is a yellow coloration that affects your baby’s skin and eyes. It’s common in premature infants. Caused by too much bilirubin (a breakdown product of red blood cells), the condition usually disappears by the time your baby is 1 or 2 weeks old. Treatment for jaundice may include more frequent feedings or, in more severe cases, light therapy (phototherapy). If your baby looks yellow, talk to your doctor.
Baby Sunscreen and More
Apply sunscreen to the areas of your baby’s skin that can’t be covered with clothes. You can also use zinc oxide on the baby’s nose, ears, and lips. Cover the rest of your baby’s skin in clothes and a wide-brimmed hat. Sunglasses protect children’s eyes from harmful rays. Sunscreens should be avoided for infants less than 6 months.
Avoiding Skin Problems at Bath Time
Remember, newborn skin is soft and sensitive. Keep your baby’s skin hydrated by bathing him/her in warm water for only three to five minutes. Avoid letting your baby sit or play or soak for long in soapy water. Apply a baby lotion or moisturizer immediately after bath, while the skin is still wet (within 3 – 5 minutes), and then pat dry instead of rubbing.
If rashes or other skin conditions are making your baby irritable, try a baby massage. Gently stroking and massaging your baby’s skin can not only help boost relaxation, but it may also lead to better sleep and reduce or stop crying, according to a recent study. But try avoiding vigorous massages; they may lead to oil folliculitis. You can massage with coconut /olive/ sesame oil; mustard oil must be avoided.
When to Call the Paediatrician
Most baby skin rashes and problems aren’t serious, but a few may be signs of infection – and need close attention. If baby’s skin has small, red-purplish dots, if there are yellow fluid-filled bumps (pustules), or if baby has a fever or lethargy or looks sick, see your paediatrician for medical treatment right away.