Common baby skin care problems
Bepanthen understands just how distressing it can be when your baby develops a nasty looking rash. Of course, you’re going to be worried – and you want to know what to do about it.
Thankfully, most infant and baby skin problems are common, and can be easily identified and treated. Here's a look at a few of the more common complaints.
It's all in the nappy...
Nappy rash is a very common problem, and most babies will get it at some point.1 Nappy rash isn’t a reflection on your parenting skills, it can happen to any baby.
It's usually caused by delicate skin coming into contact with wee and poo, which can turn into ammonia if baby sits in a dirty nappy for a while. The ammonia irritates baby's skin, which makes it sore and inflamed.2
Sometimes the friction from a nappy can also cause irritation.
Thankfully, most cases of nappy rash are mild. You'll spot a pink rash, usually made up of small spots or blotches, and covering less than 10 per cent of the nappy area.2 It will sting, especially when she fills her nappy.2
More severe nappy rash covers more than 10 per cent of the nappy area, and there can also be bright red spots, broken or cracked skin, ulcers and blisters.2 In some cases the rash can even spread down the legs or up as far as the abdomen. It can be very painful, and you should contact your healthcare provider if there is a fever, any signs of infection or severe inflammation.2
Another cause of nappy rash is fungal infection. The warm, damp conditions in a baby's nappy can cause a fungus called Candida to grow, and this can irritate her skin.3
Using a gentle, breathable barrier ointment after every change can help protect your baby from the causes of nappy rash, as it prevents the chemicals penetrating into the skin, without drying it out. Look for a clinically proven ointment such as Bepanthen that doesn't contain any fragrances, preservatives or unnecessary antiseptics, to avoid irritating what's already a sensitive area of your little one's anatomy.
Atopic eczema usually develops in babies and young children. In fact around eight in 10 cases of atopic eczema will crop up before the age of five, and many babies develop the condition before their first birthday.4
Symptoms of atopic eczema can include:
- red, inflamed skin
- dry, cracked skin
- itchy skin
- small blisters, especially on baby's hands and feet, which can become wet and weepy if it's infected6
It usually starts as a red rash on a baby's cheeks, which can then spread down to their neck and sometimes to the nappy area. It's important to consult your healthcare provider if you suspect that your baby has eczema. They may prescribe steroid creams, which can help. Try to use cotton bedding and clothing to avoid irritation and more itching, and also keep your baby's nails short and clean so that if she does scratch it avoids infection.5
Nobody really knows exactly what causes atopic eczema but there can be a genetic link.6
Some of the triggers that can set off eczema include:
- detergents, soap or shampoo
- pollen, dust mites, mould or pets
- high or low temperature or humidity
- rough fibres, such as wool6
Sometimes, babies can develop allergic reactions which cause nasty looking rashes. A substance, called an allergen, can make your baby's body's immune system react abnormally, which causes irritation.3
Some of the more common allergens include:
- oils and powders.
If your baby has an allergic reaction to something it's usually quite simple to work out what's caused the problem. For example, the rash may have developed after using a new cleansing product. Sometimes it might take some trial and error to find the culprit.3
Sometimes if you can't trace the cause, your doctor or healthcare provider might refer your baby for allergy testing, where he will be tested for reactions against very small amounts of common allergens.3
If you notice yellowish greasy or scaly patches on your baby's scalp, it could be cradle cap. It's a harmless and very common condition, and shouldn't cause any problems for your baby. It usually develops in the first three months of life but it shouldn't last for more than a few months.7 It usually starts on the scalp and can sometimes spread to behind the ears.8
It's not clear what causes cradle cap, but one theory is that it's linked to overactive sebaceous glands, the glands which produce sebum. Babies still have some of their mother's hormones in their systems for some time after they are born, and it's possible that this makes the sebum producing glands more active. The extra sebum causes the dead skin cells to stick to baby's scalp when they should just dry out and fall off.7
If you notice scaly patches in other areas of your baby, like her groin, armpits, and nose or behind her knees, it's not cradle cap, and it’s more likely to be seborrhoeic eczema (dermatitis).8