Skin care for newborns
Your baby’s skin is soft and sweet-smelling, but you might also be surprised its appearance. Spots, dry areas, rashes, birthmarks and blotchy patches are all common.
Common skin conditions
Newborn acne - is very common and, just like their future bouts as teenagers, is caused by hormones – your hormones, that is. Don’t worry; this is in no way an indication of future problems to come, and it should look better in the first few weeks. The best way to treat these clogged oil glands is to do nothing – don’t pick, scrub or treat them.
Dry and peeling skin - is simply the shedding of dead skin, and using lotions won’t speed up this process. In week one, it's mostly down to the transition from amniotic fluid to air. By week two, it may be caused by a lack of moisture and using a specific baby lotion may prove pleasurable for both you and your baby.
Nappy rash - is largely preventable. Change your baby’s nappy as soon as possible after it’s soiled. Then after wiping the area clean, use a warm wet washcloth to clean the area and apply nappy rash cream. If disposable nappies are causing very bad nappy rash, try switching to cloth and visa-versa. You’ll find more advice on nappy rash here
Erythema Toxicum - is a scary sounding name for a simple and short-lived skin condition: Blotchy red patches with pale centres. It occurs in around 50 per cent of newborns. The marks should start to clear up around week 2 and be all gone by the four-month mark.
Birthmarks - are another common skin imperfection that come in all shapes and colours, check out our extensive guide, and even the most alarming looking marks might fade with time. Check with your doctor if you have any concerns.
Cradle Cap - If your baby’s scalp is shedding what looks like dandruff, or has yellow or brown crust patches, it could be Cradle Cap. There's no reason to panic – not only is it fairly common in a baby’s early months, but it's completely harmless. While no one knows what causes it, cradle cap (seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp) usually goes away in 6 to 12 months, isn't contagious and doesn't require any treatment. If it bothers you, try gently massaging the scalp with oil (olive or mineral) and using a soft toothbrush to scrub the scalp before gently combing the flakes out. Then make sure to shampoo so the excess oil doesn't clog your baby's pores, which could make the problem worse.
You could also try massaging sorboline and glycerine cream into the affected area 2-3 times a day and then washing off in the bath, using a facewasher to stimulate the scalp. If your baby has a more serious case, your doctor might prescribe seborrhea shampoo or cortisone cream. Sometimes the seborrheic rash will spread onto the face or ears, which can be treated with a topical cream.
This article was written for Kidspot, New Zealand's leading parenting resource.