7 things you should know about baby skin

March 25, 2020
  • Don't expect baby-smooth skin
    1 / 7 Don't expect baby-smooth skin

    In reality rashes, bumps, spots and other irritations are common, especially during your little one’s first year because his skin is still developing.

    The topmost layer (known as the epidermal barrier) doesn’t fully mature until he is around one year old, says Dr Lynn Chiam from Children and Adult Skin, Hair and Laser Clinic at Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Medical Centre.

    Compared to older kids, infant skin is 20 to 30 per cent thinner, shares Dr Ong Ian, a paediatrician at Thomson Paediatric Centre (Parkway Parade). This makes it less resilient and more prone to drying out and irritation.

    Besides, babies come into contact regularly with milk and food stains, as well as urine and faeces, all of which can cause further irritation to their birthday suit, Dr Chiam points out.

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  • Keep Baby’s skin clean, but don’t overdo it
    2 / 7 Keep Baby’s skin clean, but don’t overdo it

    Good hygiene is important, but excessive bathing or washing can cause more harm. Dr Chiam advises keeping bathtime short – about 10 minutes or less – and not more than once a day for kids under the age of three.

    In the first four weeks, it may be sufficient to bathe newborns two to three times a week, according to Dr Ong.

    Avoid using a washcloth during this time; this may speed up water loss from the skin. Instead, you can simply support Baby and allow her to relax in the water, she explains.

    After bathing, pat the skin dry gently with a soft towel. Vigorous towelling can irritate delicate skin.

    Related: Organic and natural skin care products for Baby: what you must know

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  • Most newborn rashes are harmless, but…
    3 / 7 Most newborn rashes are harmless, but…

    Most skin rashes on your little one are usually not dangerous and clear up on their own, shares Dr Ong. For instance, those pearly white bumps (known as milia) or pimples (baby acne) on his face typically disappear over time.

    But this differs for every child. “While some skin issues like baby acne may get better on its own over time, some infants can get more severe forms and may need treatment,” says Dr Chiam. “It is important to get the correct diagnosis before deciding whether a rash is mild enough to be left alone.”

    Sometimes, rashes may also be a warning sign that your baby has some medical issues, such as hand, foot and mouth disease, chickenpox, measles, dengue and brain infection.

    Consult a doctor if you notice the following symptoms, Dr Ong advises. If your baby:
    – has fever and pain accompanying the rash, looks generally unwell, and is cranky and irritable.
    – has a rash that is widespread, involving large surface areas.
    – has a persistent rash that is accompanied by pain, discharge, or feels warm over the affected and surrounding areas.
    – has a rash that starts to blister.
    – experiences a sudden spread of bruise-like lesions.

     

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  • That rash could be an allergic reaction
    4 / 7 That rash could be an allergic reaction

    You might have noticed slightly raised red patches, similar to mosquito bites, on your baby’s skin. Known as hives, they are often itchy – and scratching them only worsens the problem.

    According to Dr Ong, these itchy rashes are usually a sign that your baby has an allergic reaction to certain foods or insect bites, although they may sometimes also occur for no particular reason.

    Eczema is another itchy rash that can be triggered by allergies. This condition affects up to one in five kids in Singapore and around the world.

    Your baby’s skin may feel rough and dry, scaly or flake, Dr Chiam says. In severe cases, the skin may even bleed or become oozy due to non-stop scratching.

    It is important to seek professional help for these allergic skin issues. Ask your child’s doctor for a skin prick test if you suspect that certain foods or environmental allergens, like pet dander, are triggering the rashes, Dr Chiam adds.

    Related: Why doctors now say you should feed babies peanuts and other allergic foods

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  • Use soap-and-fragrance-free cleansers
    5 / 7 Use soap-and-fragrance-free cleansers

    Like the frequency of his baths, it is just as important to be mindful of the type of cleansers you use to clean your little one.

    “Alkaline soaps are too aggressive on the skin; they dry out your baby’s skin, remove oil from the surface and alter the pH of the skin,” warns Dr Ong, who adds that maintaining the right pH is important so your baby’s skin can develop and mature properly.

    Choose products that are soap-and fragrance-free, and do not have added dyes and other chemicals – avoid products that have words like “phthalates” and “parabens” on the ingredient list.

    If your baby is prone to eczema, opt for liquid cleansers with added moisturiser, Dr Ong recommends.

    Related: Baby eczema: finding the best skin moisturiser

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  • Hold the baby powder
    6 / 7 Hold the baby powder

    You may be tempted to keep his bum dry with nice-smelling talcum powder – but don’t. When babies inhale tiny powder particles, it may cause lung problems, especially in preemies or those with sensitive airways, Dr Chiam explains.

    Instead of using baby powder, change soiled diapers frequently and clean his bottom with water or fragrance- and alcohol-free wipes to avoid diaper rash.

    Expose the nappy area to air as often as possible and protect it with barrier creams – try soft white parȧn or zinc oxide creams, Dr Ong reminds.

    Don’t downplay diaper rash. Dr Chiam says there are many different types of diaper rash and it is best to take your baby to see a doctor to manage it.

    Related: The right way to care for your baby’s penis and bottom

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  • Baby laundry detergents are not a must
    7 / 7 Baby laundry detergents are not a must

    Mild detergents without added fragrances, dyes, parabens and sodium dodecyl sulphate (a synthetic cleaning agent) are ideal, says Dr Ong.

    But using regular detergents in smaller amounts to wash your baby’s laundry is fine, too, unless he has extremely sensitive skin, says Dr Chiam.

    Still worried? Check for adverse reactions using a simple test: wash one to two pieces of his clothing using regular detergent.

    “If your baby’s skin appears fine (after wearing the clothing), it is all right to continue. If a rash occurs, try to use a detergent that has minimal amount of fragrances and preservatives,” Dr Chiam says. “Alternatively, you can double-rinse the clothes.”

    Related: Washing baby clothes: 6 things the doctor wants you to know

    Photos: 123RF.com

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