Awhonn-nann Newborn Skin Care Guidelines
Baby skin care for newborns up to three months
The role of Vernix caseosa
Babies are usually born with a sticky white substance called vernix caseosa (also called cheese smear) on their skin. 1 It is a naturally occurring substance that forms a protective layer on the baby's skin in the womb. 2 As a result, traces of Vernix Caseosa will usually still appear on the baby's skin after birth. The amount of vernix caseosa is less if the baby is born shortly before or just after the due date, while in premature babies much more usually remains on the skin. 3 It is important to reassure parents that all babies are different and if their baby does not have vernix caseosa this is not a problem.
Additionally, it is best to advise parents not to wipe off the cheese smear and instead let it soak into the newborn's skin for the first 24 hours as it acts as a natural moisturizer and helps fight off bacterial infections. 3 In late births, there may be less or no cheese smear left on the skin because it has already been absorbed. 4 This often leads to dry or wrinkled skin. 3 In this situation, no additional creams should be applied. 3 The baby's top layer of skin peels off in the first few days, leaving behind fresh, soft skin.
In skin-to-skin contact, the child lies directly on the parents' bare skin. This often happens as soon as possible after the birth. World Health Organization guidelines6 emphasize that it is important for newborns without complications to have skin-to-skin contact with the mother, if possible, in the first hour after birth. Skin-to-skin contact helps the newborn to adjust to its new environment outside of the uterus. 7 In addition, skin-to-skin contact helps prevent hypothermia and promotes breastfeeding. 7 Additionally, there is evidence that skin-to-skin contact infants cried less, interacted more with their mothers, and had improved cardiorespiratory stability and better glucose levels. 8 Based on this evidence, skin-to-skin contact should be recommended to parents and the benefits discussed with them. Parents should be informed that it is a good way for them to bond with their baby too. It is recommended to incorporate skin-to-skin contact into your daily routine, e.g. after feeding or bathing.
Regular skin-to-skin contact increases the skin moisture of the newborn. 6 This is because the newborn's skin picks up the bacteria from the mother's skin and protects the baby from infection. 9 One hour of skin-to-skin contact would be ideal for the newborn to go through a full sleep and wake cycle. 6 However, even 10 minutes a day can have a huge impact.
Find more information, resources, and the benefits of the skin-to-skin method for parents here.
Bathing a newborn baby
The first bath is a significant milestone for many parents. The following tips can help parents bathe their baby in the way that best suits their newborn's skin care needs.
Try not to bathe them for the first 24 hours. This ensures that the cheese smear has had time to soak in.
Do not put liquid detergents in the bath water. Pure water is best for your baby during the first month as the skin is very sensitive.
Try not to bathe the baby for more than five minutes. The water should be warm and not hot.
Do not use perfumed soaps or products that can irritate the skin.
Do not bathe the baby every day as this can dry out the skin. Instead, it is best to bathe two or three times a week
Pat the baby dry. Frictions can quickly irritate the newborn's skin.
In addition to bathing, parents should be advised that they can also use the "top and tail" method of freshening their newborn. This includes using a bowl of water and cotton wool. The top and tail method first cleanses the baby's face and neck and works its way down to the hands and then down to the bottom.
Parents can find it time-consuming to always clean their newborn with cotton and water. A possible alternative would be to use a mild, non-medicated baby wipe to clean the skin. WaterWipes are a great choice because they only contain two ingredients. 99.9% ultrapure water and a drop of fruit extract that does not dry out the newborn's skin. In addition, WaterWipes were recently validated by the Skin Health Alliance as being purer than cotton and water. Therefore they are perfect for a safe and gentle cleansing of the sensitive newborn skin in the first three months.
Skin diseases in newborns
Many babies, aged 0-3 months, are prone to a variety of skin diseases as their sensitive skin adapts to a new environment. In the first few days, parents often ask about diaper rash, cradle cap and heat rash, as these skin conditions are common in newborns.
Diaper rash is usually characterized by red and sore skin or blisters and blisters. The affected area of the skin often feels hot to the touch. 13 Diaper rash is often the result of too tight or rubbing diapers. 13 However, the rash can also be caused by a baby wipe that contains alcohol or if the baby's skin has been exposed to a wet or dirty diaper for a long period of time. To reduce the likelihood of diaper rashes, parents are advised to change diapers frequently and use alcohol-free and fragrance-free wet wipes.
Cradle cap is a greasy and scaly red rash that can appear on a newborn's scalp and face in the first few months as a result of excess fat. Cradle cap is a completely harmless skin disease that does not cause the baby any pain and usually goes away on its own. 10 To reduce the likelihood of a rash, you can do the following:
Wash your hair regularly with baby shampoo, then brush it gently. Do not use adult soaps, perfumed products, or shampoos as they are too harsh on the baby's scalp.
Do not pick or scratch the scabs - this may cause bleeding or infection. 14
Rub baby oil, petroleum jelly, or a vegetable oil on the scalp at night to soften the scabs. Wash the scalp gently with baby shampoo the next morning. 15th
If fluid leaks out from crusts or if the cradle cap spreads over the body, parents should speak to their GP.
Heat rashes can also occur in babies, most likely in sweat-prone areas such as in the diaper area or in the armpits. 10 In newborns, they are rarely caused by exposure to the sun, but are usually the result of too much clothing by the baby. Therefore, choosing loose-fitting clothing and avoiding excessive layers will help prevent heat rash.
Other common skin diseases in babies are baby acne, dry skin, eczema, semolina, and psoriasis. If parents want more information about these conditions, they can check out this WaterWipes article by Dr. Cairine Wilkinson read more about it.
about the author
Dr. Stephanie Ooi is a private doctor at the MyHealthcare clinic in London. Stephanie has a particular interest in pediatrics and the physical and mental health of women. In addition to her professional interest, Dr. Stephanie Ooi has personal experience in caring for newborns as the mother of two young girls.
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