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 another skin condition. While your baby is perfect, her skin may not be. Many babies are prone to skin irritation in their first few months. Here’s what you can do about it.
1. If your baby has red skin around the diaper area, you’re dealing with diaper rash. You can avoid diaper rash if you keep the diaper area open to the air as long as possible, change your baby’s diaper as soon as it is wet. If it does happen wash it with the warm cloth and put zink oxide cream on it.
2. Baby “acne” is not really acne like the kind teenagers get. Research suggests it may be related to yeast, not oil. Pimples on a 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 lotion.
3. Eczema is an itchy, red rash that may happen in response to a trigger. The condition is common in children who have a family history of asthma, allergies, or atopic dermatitis. Eczema may appear on your baby’s face as a weepy rash. Over time, it becomes thick, dry, and scaly. You may also see it on the elbows, 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 prescription medicine.
4. You probably shouldn’t worry if your newborn has peeling, dry skin — it often happens if your baby is born a little late. The underlying skin is perfectly healthy, soft, and moist. If your infant’s dry skin doesn’t go away, talk to your baby’s pediatrician.
5. The sun may feel great, but it could be exposing your baby’s skin to the risk of damaging sunburn. You can use baby sunscreen on infants at any age. Hats and umbrellas are also good ideas. But for the best protection from sunburn, keep your infant out of direct sunlight during the first 6 months of life. For mild infant sunburn, apply a cool cloth to your baby’s skin for 10-15 minutes a few times daily.
6. Remember, newborn skin is soft and sensitive. Keep your baby’s skin hydrated by bathing her in warm water for only 3 to 5 minutes. Avoid letting your baby sit or play or soak for long in soapy water. Apply a baby lotion or moisturizer immediately after the bath while her skin is still wet, and then pat dry instead of rubbing.
7. If rashes or other skin conditions are making your baby irritable, try 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 ease or stop crying.
8. Shopping for baby skin care products? Less is more. Look for items without dyes, fragrance, phthalates, and parabens — all of which could cause skin irritation. When in doubt, talk to your pediatrician to see if a product is appropriate.