Baby Soft: Skin Protection Dos & Don’ts For Your Little One
4 mins read
Our skin structure changes from the time we are nine-weeks-old, till we are 90. This means that there is a large difference between the skin structure of your infant and you. A baby’s skin performs the same functions as that of an adult’s, which is to protect the body from airborne illnesses, absorb and expel moisture as required, protect against harmful UV rays, maintain body temperature and provide sensory perception. But, much like all other parts of the body, a baby’s skin is just about learning to develop the skills to do these functions. So, there are some basic differences between the skin of a baby and that of an adult.
Skincare For Adults & Babies: It’s Not All The Same
- The outer layer of your baby’s skin, ie, the epidermis can be up to 30 percent thinner than that of an adult. This means that a baby’s skin is more sensitive and vulnerable to damage.
- A baby’s skin absorbs and loses moisture at a rate faster than adults. Thus, your child’s skin will be visibly drier unless kept moisturized.
- One of the functions of the skin is to act as a barrier for external irritants. Since the skin is not yet fully functional in a baby, this barrier is weak and the child is more prone to infections. Dr Ashanti Woods, attending Paediatrician, Mercy Medical Center, Family Health Centers of Baltimore says, “Their skin is constantly maturing and developing, meaning that babies are more susceptible to irritation (rash), temperature instability, and infection, given that they do not have a fully mature immune system.”
This is exactly why your baby’s skin requires some extra TLC.
Bathing may seem like the obvious measure to protect your baby from germs, but if done too often, it can actually be counter-productive. Your baby’s skin has essential oils that are already working towards protecting the skin. Bathing the child every day for too long will causing the stripping of these oils, exposing the skin to infections and irritants. A 10-minute bath every third day is sufficient to keep your baby’s skin clean and free of bacteria. But, make sure the skin folds are cleaned out properly.
The baby’s skin is easily irritated so always use only soft cotton towels and gentle towelettes to wipe.
Use Mild Soaps & Shampoos
Because your child’s skin is so much more sensitive, you must avoid using normal adult soaps and shampoos for your child. In fact, even the detergent that the baby’s clothes are being washed in should be mild. Adult soaps have harsh chemicals that will irritate the baby’s skin. Use only basic cleansers. Products that are fragrant or use dye are just adding more chemicals into the mix that may irritate your child’s skin. It is best to stay clear of these as far as possible. Dr Woods suggests Dove Soap or Aveeno for bathing.
Moisturize With Emollients
Since baby skin tends to get dry very quickly, it becomes essential to keep it constantly moisturized. Emollients like sunflower seed oil or baby lotions must be applied daily. Elaine Consalvo says, “This greatly helps the health of their skin, as well as their immune systems.” An oil massage helps your baby’s blood circulation, which in turn improves the baby’s general health.
Dr Woods suggests that you keep a hydrocortisone ointment handy in case of mild irritants or diaper rashes, and use Vaseline Petroleum Jelly or Aveeno for moisturizing your baby daily. Dr Woods also suggests application of sunblock with a sun protective factor (SPF) of 15 or greater, to protect against the sun’s ultraviolet rays when out in the open.
Dr Tanya Kormeili, board certified dermatologist, and clinical professor at UCLA, sums it up with some basic dos and don’ts to remember: “Avoid excessive heat, cold, over-washing, harsh chemicals, wind, or direct prolonged exposure to the sun.”
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