Dry Skin in Newborn Babies
A newborn's skin is wonderfully soft but prone to dryness in much the same way an adult's skin might be. If you notice that your newborn baby's skin is dry or flaky, it is important to be aware of what might be causing this condition and what you can do about it 1.
During their first week, newborns often shed a layer of skin due to the transition from the watery environment provided by the amniotic fluid to the open air. This is normal and does not need to be treated. When a baby is born, he will have his mother's hormones in his body, and this can lead to infant acne and dry skin 1. This issue will clear out in a few weeks, but if does not, you should speak to your health care provider.
Dry skin in newborns causes rough, flaky skin or even reddened, itchy patches on the infant's body. A baby may be more fretful or more agitated when his skin is irritated 1. Persistent dry skin can also be a sign of eczema, which is characterized by persistent skin rashes. Eczema can only be diagnosed by a doctor but is often treatable with regular moisturization. Cradle cap is an issue that manifests as dry, flaky or even scaly skin on the infant's head. While this is a harmless issue that will go away on its own, an application of baby oil left in the hair for a few minutes and then shampooed away with baby shampoo can improve the baby's scalp. Follow it up with use of a baby comb or baby brush.
Treating dry skin in newborns is straightforward. A moisturizer made for infants can be used after the baby is 1 month old and this can be applied to keep skin soft and supple 1. Reduce bathing, which can strip necessary oils from your baby's skin, and make sure your child is shielded from the sun and the cold when you go out 1. Similarly, run a humidifier and make sure your baby stays hydrated.
Dry skin on an infant can lead to irritation and even infection if it is left untended. Dry skin can also be a contributing factor to infant acne and other skin blemishes.
Keep the use of baby wipes low, especially on younger infants. The alcohol content can pull moisture from your baby's skin, leading to rashes and skin irritation 1. Also remember that during your baby's first month, he may shed skin due to transitioning to dry air from amniotic fluid 1. Due to this issue, do not apply moisturizer to his skin. Also remember that bathing your infant too often can lead to dry, irritated skin. Bathe your infant three to four times a week and that will be enough to keep him clean.
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images