Changes occur in our skin at all stages in life. Newborns have differences in their skin that are important to know about. Mothers, fathers, grandparents and carers should be aware of differences in newborn skin. Some important ones are discussed below.
1. The Vernix
While “The Vernix” sounds like the title of some kind of Sci-Fi movie, its actually the white, greasy film on the skin of babies delivered at term.
It is a natural moisturiser for the skin that helps with hydrating and antimicrobial activity. There is no need to rub this or try to clean it off. It will resolve by itself over time.
2. Increased water loss from the skin
Because water loss through the skin increases in the first few days of life, it can lead to dry skin.
Use soap free cleansers rather than soap. Brands like cetaphil, QV, hamiltons and cerave are just some examples of brands with soap-free washes.
3. Increased absorption of anything applied to the skin
Despite the increased risk of dry skin, newborn skin does absorb things nicely.
But beware, the increased absorption through the skin will increase potential toxicity of substances. Avoid salicylic acid and other active ingredients on the skin of newborns.
4. Skin peeling
Skin peeling and scaling of the skin (mostly on the hands and feet), is a normal process as the newborn adapts to its environment.
This will resolve without any treatment so there is no need to peel or pick at it.
5. Increased oil production
It is normal for increased oil production to cause small pinpoint yellow spots on the face of a newborn. This is due to transfer of the mothers hormones in the uterus. While mild acne usually resolves, treatment for more severe cases is sometimes required.
6. Altered temperature control
The skin normally regulates temperature but newborns have poor temperature control and immature sweat glands so they are at risk of overheating.
Avoid overheating by using cotton material against the skin, dressing the child lightly and avoiding sleeping bags at night.
7. Increased risk of Irritation or blisters
Irritation from urine/faeces and ‘sucking’ on lips/fingers can cause nappy dermatitis and blisters on the skin
Dry to use absorbable materials in nappies and aim to change nappies soon after they are soiled.
If your baby is developing red, scaly rashes, blisters or pimples in funny areas like the limbs or trunk or if you are concerned about skin changes in your newborn, please chat with your General Practitioner or Paediatrician. And of course, if things aren’t improving with simple measures, your dermatologist will be able to get the skin of your newborn back on track.
The information contained in this blog post is intended as a guide only and should not substitute seeking medical attention. Please see your healthcare provider for more information on suitability of products, treatments or procedures.