How to protect your baby’s skin?
Newborn babies’ skin is just gorgeous isn’t it? Most newborns have lovely peachy skin – although it won't necessarily look perfect straight away.
Newborns can look a little blotchy until they are a few days old1 and as their skin dries out it sometimes gets a bit dry and even peels a little (well after all that time submerged in amniotic fluid the baby has to get used to life in the open air!) Don't be tempted to over wash your new baby, because washing too much can cause dryness and flaking in sensitive new skin.
Spots and rashes
Although they can be a worry at first, rashes are usually nothing to get too concerned about. It's quite common for babies to develop rashes when they are very young, including milk spots (milia) 8, which are harmless tiny white dots that often show up on the face, although they can develop elsewhere. Milk spots are thought to be caused by blocked sweat glands and the good news is that they will clear up by themselves.1
Some babies develop infantile acne, which often happens between the ages of three months and five years, and is most common in boys. It usually just goes away without any treatment.2 If your baby develops the condition, just wash her skin very carefully with warm water, and mild soap if you want to, but don't scrub his face or give in to the temptation to squeeze the spots.
Nappy rash is so common that it’s thought a third of nappy wearing babies are suffering from it at any one time9. Sometimes, it can be caused by a fungal infection brought on by damp conditions inside the nappy, but it’s nothing to do with bad hygiene. It can be pretty uncomfortable for baby though.3
To protect from the causes of nappy rash, you can also use a barrier ointment at every nappy change and after every wash. Experts recommend this as it helps to reduce the contact a baby's skin has with wee and poo. Use a product like Bepanthen which is breathable, and doesn’t contain any fragrance, preservatives, colours or antiseptics.
If it's hot or humid and you notice that baby has developed bright red bumps or tiny blisters, it could be heat rash.4
Heat rash isn't usually serious or painful, but it can be very itchy which can upset your baby. Most heat rashes clear up without any treatment after a few days but if your little one seems to be having a hard time with it, avoid hot and humid environments as much as possible.
When it's warm, dress baby in soft cotton clothing, which is absorbent and keeps moisture away from his skin.4 Keep her skin cool and try letting him have some time without wearing a nappy, too, if you can.
Infantile eczema (sometimes also called atopic dermatitis) usually shows up as an itchy red rash on baby’s cheeks at first, and this can spread over his face and neck, and down to the nappy area. In some cases it can also spread to arms and legs, and the itching can make babies irritable and uncomfortable, especially at night time.5
If your baby develops the signs of eczema, you need to see your healthcare professional who will be able to tell you whether the rash is eczema from looking at it.5
If your baby is diagnosed with eczema, you can help reduce some of the symptoms by not dressing him in synthetic or woollen clothes because these can make him sweat and cause skin irritation. Another tip is to make sure you wash all of his clothes in perfume free soap.5
Apply a good thick moisturiser to baby’s skin several times a day in the winter (during the summer months you can switch to a thinner lotion). Use soap free cleansers and emollients when you bathe and wash her. Always consult a healthcare professional before using steroid creams - these should always be prescribed by a doctor.5
Choosing the right skincare for baby
Bepanthen knows how difficult it is to decide on the best skin care for a new baby, but before anything else, make sure you have the essentials in place - for example a good, reliable barrier ointment . Bepanthen is ideal because it’s breathable, and contains no contains no fragrance, preservatives, colours or antiseptics. It’s also clinically proven to protect from the causes of nappy rash.
For cleansing, bathing and moisturising, there are plenty of excellent baby skincare ranges available, which all have to pass stringent safety tests before they are allowed to go on sale.6 These products must take into account that a baby's skin is more delicate, and has a different pH level to an adult's.6
When you’re picking a skincare brand for your baby, avoid anything that contains strong detergents or other harsh chemicals, which can irritate a little one’s sensitive skin. Find a reliable baby skin care brand that's been clinically proven, and look for soothing non-perfumed products which are free from added colours, preservatives or antiseptics. If you’re worried about a rash, or if you suspect baby might have the symptoms of eczema, see your GP or healthcare professional.
If your baby develops an unexplained rash and displays any of the following symptoms you should go to the nearest emergency department or call an ambulance straight away.7