Skin and Eye Changes
The most common manifestation of jaundice is the yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes. The yellow colour occurs because of a build-up of the chemical bilirubin in the bloodstream. Bilirubin comes from red blood cells and is essentially a waste product of iron from the cells. One of the liver's functions is to remove bilirubin from the body; but when the organ is not working properly, the chemical builds up in the blood. Even if the liver is functioning properly, a rapid destruction of red blood cells (anaemia) can produce more bilirubin than the liver can handle. The presence of too much bilirubin makes the skin and eyes appear yellow. An extremely high level of bilirubin can make the skin appear brown in colour.
Change in Urine
A build-up of bilirubin in the body will appear as dark-coloured urine. This change in colour is due to the body ridding itself of the chemical without the help of the liver. Pregnant women should also be aware that their prenatal vitamins can cause a change in the urine's colour which is not associated with jaundice.
Change in Feces
When the liver is functioning properly, conjugated bilirubin is expelled from the body through the faeces. Conjugated bilirubin is what gives faeces its dark colour; when the chemical is building up in the blood and not being eliminated, stools become lighter or clay-coloured.
Another sign of jaundice is severe skin itching. Those with the symptoms can often scratch their skin raw, have problems sleeping due to discomfort and, in rare cases, even commit suicide. Pregnant women should be aware that cholestasis of pregnancy can cause itching not associated with jaundice. Cholestasis of pregnancy is not a common condition; but when it does occur, it shows up in the third trimester.
If a woman's jaundice is due to liver disease, which can occur from acute fatty liver or cirrhosis, she may also show serious advanced symptoms that include fatigue, ankle swelling, mental confusion, muscle wasting, intestinal bleeding, fluid accumulation in the abdomen or coma. Pregnant women often show some of these symptoms as natural signs of pregnancy, such as ankle swelling, fatigue and a growing abdomen. Advanced symptoms are most likely to occur if a person had liver abnormalities before pregnancy.
Trim your baby’s fingernails frequently and gently file the edges if you can to reduce the damage that scratching can cause the skin. Cover your infant's hands at night with no-scratch mittens or socks to keep him from scratching. Use items that are made of 100 percent cotton and are snug without binding.
Bathe your baby in lukewarm water for no longer than 10 minutes, using a mild, fragrance-free soap. Consider adding an oatmeal-based bath product to the bath water to help reduce itchiness. Gently pat your child dry when you take him out of the tub. Cover his skin while it is still damp with a moisturizing lotion or cream, such as petroleum jelly, two or three times each day.
Use an ice pack or a cold, damp washcloth on your baby’s skin before going to bed at night to soothe itchiness and swelling. Hold the cold compress on the affected area for a few minutes for effective relief.
Maintain a cool temperature in your baby’s bedroom at night, according to Dr. Colin Holden, dermatologist and president of the British Association of Dermatologists, since skin can become hotter and itchier at night. Use cotton sheets and lightweight, natural fiber bedding. Keep pets out of your child’s room in case your child is allergic to pet hair, dander or saliva.
Place loose-fitting clothing made from 100 percent cotton on your baby at night to minimize skin irritation. Wash all of your infant’s clothing in a mild, fragrance-free detergent. Cover the irritated skin with clothing to help keep her from scratching an exposed area.
Things You Will Need
- Fingernail clippers
- Nail file
- No-scratch mittens
- Mild soap and detergent
- Oatmeal bath product
- Ice pack
- Cotton sheets
- Natural-fiber bedding
- Loose-fitting clothing
Keep in mind that in some cases, a food allergy might trigger baby eczema, notes Dr. Colin Holden. Possible food triggers include milk, eggs, citrus fruit, chocolate and peanuts. If you suspect a food allergy might be causing your baby's skin condition, consult with your pediatrician.
Speak with your pediatrician if you think your baby might need topical creams or ointments to help with nighttime itching resulting from eczema or other skin conditions.
Avoid putting wool or synthetic-fiber clothing on your baby to reduce itchiness.
Bathing with hot water can remove natural, protective oils from your baby’s skin. Soaps containing perfumes or deodorants can irritate sensitive skin.
When a baby is in the womb, his skin is covered with a waxy substance called "vernix." This protects the baby's skin from absorbing too much moisture from the amniotic fluid. After your baby is born, the vernix begins to rub off and the skin may need time to adjust. During his first few weeks, your baby's skin may appear dry and begin to peel or flake off. Flaking skin is normal after birth, and once the dry skin is shed, his skin will appear to be normal.
Risks of Using Lotions
Pediatricians are often cautious about recommending that their patients use baby lotions. This is because every baby care product introduces chemicals into the baby's system, and some of these chemicals may be harmful. A 2008 study conducted by researchers at the University of Washington and the University of Rochester, reported in the "Los Angeles Times," suggests that many baby lotions contain chemicals called "phthalates." Phthalates have been linked to developmental problems in male babies, such as lower levels of testosterone. This study raised concerns that these chemicals may alter the baby's normal sexual development as he grows. Phthalates do not appear on the ingredient list in lotions, so there's no way to know whether or not the lotion contains them.
Alleviating Dry Skin
In some cases, a baby's skin may be so dry that it begins to crack or split. In these cases, the use of a little lotion may be justified. Some pediatricians recommend natural moisturizers, such as a dab of olive oil. Others may recommend a lotion that is free from additives, or they may have a particular brand of lotion that they feel comfortable recommending. Always consult a pediatrician before you use any new baby product, including skin care products. In addition, bathing your infant only as often as your pediatrician recommends and limiting the amount of soap that you use may also help to prevent dryness.
Skin Conditions That Require Lotions
If you believe that your baby's flaking or red skin may be more than just dry skin, contact a pediatrician to have your baby evaluated. Some babies are prone to eczema, a condition in which the baby develops an itchy, dry, red rash in response to an environmental trigger, such as heat or a detergent or fragrance. Alternatively, your baby may have cradle cap or another skin rash caused by illness or an inherited condition.
In general, sunscreens formulated for specific use on facial skin are gentler than traditional types meant for all-over use. Spread face sunscreens on any exposed skin on your child's body, rather than confining it to her face. This way she's protected from the sun without risk of an eczema flare-up. Mark Boguniewicz, M.D., Professor of Allergy-Immunology at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center recommends Vanicream sunscreen, which he suggests for patients with eczema. You might have to try a couple of options before you find one that works your child.
Pediatric dermatologist Patricia Treadwell encourages parents to choose sunscreens without chemicals. Look for those that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, ingredients that block the sun's rays, but that don't get absorbed into the skin to the same degree as other ingredients. Avoid options that contain a long list of chemical additives, which can exacerbate eczema. Stick to products that claim to be "sunblock" rather than "sunscreen," which are less likely to contain a bunch of chemicals that can irritate your child's skin.
The National Eczema Association doesn't accept products with fragrances into its Seal of Acceptance program. This is because the ingredients used to scent sunscreen sometimes makes eczema worse. Look for a product that contains the seal, or simply choose one that is fragrance-free. Avoid sunscreen or sunblock that contains any type of perfume, masking fragrance or herb extracts. This information is listed in the ingredients on the label. If you're unsure about a specific ingredient, call the manufacturer for more information, or choose a different type of sunscreen for your child.
Some kids have contact eczema, which means certain ingredients or types of material can cause a flare-up. Kids Health recommends using only hypoallergenic sunscreen on your child's skin. These products are formulated for sensitive skin and are less likely to contain ingredients that can exacerbate eczema. They are also less prone to dry out your child's skin. Dry skin can make eczema worse so keep your child's skin moisturized.
Limit both time and temperature for baths. Soaking in hot water may feel good, but it strips your toddler’s skin of natural oils. Pediatrician Dr. Dawn Davis of the Mayo Clinic encourages parents to limit baths to every other day. She also suggests keeping the water warm, but not hot. Test the water against your wrist. If the water feels warm to your wrist, add a little cold water to cool the tub.
Use soap sparingly. Soap is designed to strip oils from skin. In cold weather, your tot’s skin needs all the oil it can get. Use mild soap only in those places that get dirty, such as the hands, genitals and face. This allows the largest part of your child’s skin to remain protected by natural oils.
Pat the skin dry and use a moisturizer. Pediatrician William Sears encourages parent to blot the skin dry rather than rubbing briskly with a towel. This leaves a thin layer of moisture on the child’s skin after bathing. Immediately cover the moist skin with a moisturizer that traps the fluid in the skin. Davis encourages the use of petroleum jelly to act as a sealant for the moist skin.
Apply moisturizer before dressing for the cold. Sears points out that moisturizer seals the skin against the moisture-sapping elements.
Cover as much skin as possible while outside. Use a coat, hat, gloves and scarf to protect as much of the child’s skin as possible. Clothing prevents the wind from stealing moisture from your child’s skin.
Hydrate skin from the inside. In cold weather, your kiddo may not get hot and thirsty in the same way she does in the summer. That doesn’t change her need for fluids. Sears reminds parents that drinking water helps to keep children hydrated. She needs at least an ounce of water for every pound of weight per day.
Things You Will Need
- Mild soap
- Bath towel
- Moisturizer or petroleum jelly
Sears encourages parents to add fish to the child's diet. Seafood is naturally high in essential oils that protect healthy skin development. Windburn can be exacerbated by dry air in the home. If your house is dry, try using a vaporizer to add moisture to the air.
If the child's skin becomes cracked or inflamed, seek the advice of her pediatrician.
Plan your tattoos with future pregnancies in mind before actually getting them done. Consider waiting until after you've had all the children you want to have before getting a tattoo on your stomach or breasts, which typically stretch the most during pregnancy.
Consult a tattoo artist near you when you discover you are pregnant; preferably, choose the artist who did the tattoo or one you know or trust. Talk about possibilities for touching up the tattoo after the baby has been born. This may not be necessary, but it is best to plan ahead for this just in case your tattoo does stretch out. It may be helpful to take photos at this stage to help with any necessary touch-ups.
During pregnancy, stick to a nutritious, customised and prenatal physician-prescribed diet. By giving your body all of the nutrients and vitamins it needs, you can give your skin everything it needs to be at its healthiest. Healthy skin will have better elasticity, which reduces the risk of stretch marks that can severely distort tattoos.
Drink 10 or more eight-ounce glasses of water every day. This will help keep your body well hydrated and your skin well moisturised, which is essential for optimal skin elasticity.
Rub cocoa butter over the tattoo and all stretching skin on a daily basis throughout the rapid growth periods of pregnancy. Though this cannot actually help prevent stretch marks, it does help boost the moisture levels of the skin during your highest risk periods for stretch mark development.
After pregnancy, continue consulting a physician or begin seeing a nutritionist about your diet plan. The focus of your diet should be on two things: continuing to get all of the vitamins and nutrients you need for optimal skin health and gradually returning to your pre-pregnancy weight.
Consider consulting a fitness trainer only after you have fully recovered from childbirth. You may not need any special fitness regimen other than normal, moderate exercise to return to your original weight, but if you find it to be difficult, a personal trainer can customise a progressive fitness plan around your current fitness level and end goals.
Consult your tattoo artist about touch-ups if necessary, but only after stabilising your weight after childbirth. If you plan on having another child again soon, it would probably be best to wait until after the next baby to have touch-ups made.
Your abdominal tattoos will stretch and distort during pregnancy, but this is normal and unavoidable. You will only be able to assess the level of distortion of your tattoo after you have given birth, recuperated and stabilised your weight near your pre-pregnancy level.
If you lose a great deal of weight after getting a tattoo, regardless of any pregnancies, your tattoo can also become distorted.