CARING FOR NEW-BORN BABY’S SKIN – WITH DR. SANJAY WAZIR
When we look at our new-born for the first time, our senses are flooded with a rush of emotions. It’s such a wonder of bringing a new life into this world. A life so beautiful, so magical…so delicate.
And even though we may know things subconsciously, among the barrage of advices and suggestions, we get confused on how to care best for the li’l one.
The skin being the largest organ of the body, is one of the primary concerns.
That’s why we invited a renowned expert to guide all new parents on this journey. From the major issues faced to the seemingly small concerns, Dr. Sanjay Wazir, Director of Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (N.I.C.U.), Cloud Nine Hospitals, sharedhis views and tips with us on a recent live video session.
With over two decades of extensive experience in pediatrics and neonatology, his expertise answered concerns with refreshingly simple insight.
Here’s what we learned from the super-informative live session:
WHAT ARE THE MAJOR ISSUES IN NEW-BORN SKIN THAT PARENTS SHOULD BE AWARE OF?
Around the first few days after birth, we may notice reddish rashes on our baby’s skin. The good news is, most of these rashes, even if they may look scary, are actually benign (not likely to cause harm). They are in fact, part of the developmental process.
When to consult the paediatrician: If the rashes cause irritation to the baby.
2. REDDISH PIMPLES ON THE BODY
Among the most common skin issues during the first week is the occurrence of small, reddish pimples. Termed ‘Erythema Toxicum’, they’re are generally harmless (unlike what they sound like), and tend to fade away on their own in a week. These appear in about 50% of babies.
Small boils can usually just be ruptured and cleaned.
When to consult the paediatrician: In cases where the pimples are large and contain pus or fluid. This could happen due to the bacteria from around the nose being passed through our hands to the baby, or when inadequately clean hands touch the baby. It could lead to a more serious Staph Infection.
4. NEONATAL/BABY ACNE
During their 2/3rd week, many babies develop acne. It could be all over the face.As bad as that may seem, it would generally fade away on its own in a couple of months. Baby acne usually happens because of the maternal hormones passed from mothers.
When to consult the paediatrician: If the acne seems to be spreading a lot and causing itching or irritation.
5. CRADLE CAP
If the scalp appears to be crusting with white/yellow scales, it is probably cradle cap. Most babies have this condition when they’re 2 weeks – 12 months old. It usually clears up on its own within a few months.
When to consult the paediatrician: In case it causes itching/irritation or flakiness, especially around the ears, eyes and nasal folds.
6. MONGOLIAN SPOTS
Those bluish/greenish marks that sound worrisome, are actually a kind of birthmark. They’re completely harmless and often fade away before adolescence.
7. LESIONS/BUMPS ON THE SKIN
Unless they are not too significant or troublesome, it’s recommended that a paediatrician be consulted. Significant bumps with any kind of fluid/pus discharge could be a concern.
WHAT’S A GOOD BABY BATH ROUTINE?
As Dr. Sanjay Wazir reiterates, new-born babies don’t really sweat or have body odour. But they may spill food, milk, spittle,boogers, and sometimes poop and pee a lot. Certain enzymes in these may damage the skin. In such cases, a bath would definitely sound like a good idea!
But it’s essential to maintain a balance. Contrary to popular beliefs, we don’t need to bathe our babies every day -especially in winters or colder climates. Bathing them on alternate days or once in 2/3 days is actually enough. When we go overboard (which tends to happen to many of us at times) and use sanitizers or antiseptics, it could hamper the natural protective layer of oils and moisture on our baby’s skin.
The right temperature of water to bathe babies in, is a little warm - about 37°-38° C. In case there’s no thermometer around, we can just dip a finger in, and if we can hold it for 5 minutes without any discomfort, the water should be good for the baby’s bath!
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT PRODUCTS AND WHEN TO INTRODUCE THEM?
Talc/corn starch or silica based products are a definite no-no until babies turn at least 1-year-old. It could harm the lungs on inhalation, as the protective linings in their nasal passages and respiratory tracts are not completely developed.
Choosing the right creams, moisturisers, and oils depends on two major factors:
- The skin-type/condition
- The weather
What would work in winters may not work in summers, and what would work for our friends’ may not work for us.
The best way to choose the right products according to Dr. Sanjay, is to ensure that they’re certified from authentic sources. Checking for Paediatrician Certified, Dermatologically Tested, etc. is a good way. And if certain types of products seem to suit the baby, we can just continue using them.
The key is to keep it simple. Using culturally acceptable, locally available products that suit our babies is all it takes. In case of unsureness, we can always consult our family doctors and paediatricians!
HOW TO CARE FOR BROKEN/INFLAMED NEW-BORN SKIN
The first step is to understand the cause and therefore what can be avoided, for prevention. It could be one or a combination of the following:
- Cradle cap
- Using hot water for bath
- Using excess cleansers/soaps that may damage the natural protective layer of the skin
- Overzealous massages
- Using antiseptics/sanitation products
- Atopic dermatitis/eczema (may occur in about 10% of babies)
An easy cure is:
- Wipe the area gently with water
- Apply a layer of moisturiser/cream on top of the damp skin
- Repeat the process 3-4 times a day
Being better at percolation, water can help the skin absorb the moisturizer better and keep it hydrated.
In case significant inflammation is still present and the baby is irritable, it’s best to consult the family doctor/paediatrician.
ARE DIAPERS GOOD OR BAD?
Dr. Sanjay reminisces: the first diaper in 1963 was a mesh of cellulose. This was the reason behind major diaper rashes. But times have changed and these days, most diapers have a super-absorbent material, that can absorb water almost 80-100 times its weight! Data clearly suggests that as of now, the commonly used diaperscause lesser incidence of diaper dermatitis than cloth nappies! Didn’t see that coming, did we?
Cloth nappies don’t absorb as well as these diapers do. And the longer the skin is wet, the higher the chances of developing rashes.
So what’s the verdict?
As Dr. Sanjay mentioned before, it’s wise to strike a balance. If we use diapers, it is recommended to change them every 3-4 hours. And when changing, allowing a gap of an hour will ensure that the baby’s bottom gets some fresh air. Alternating between cloth nappies and diapers when at home is also a good idea.
LAUNDRY & BABY CLOTHES
CHOOSING THE DETEREGENT
One of the common queries we have is whether we truly need detergents specialized for babies. The answer is, if not specialized, it’s highly recommended to use super-mild detergents. Why?
Regular detergents have higher acidic levels. If clothes washed in it are not completely rinsed, it can harm the baby’s skin on contact.
Using a milder detergent or one with significantly less chemicals would be safer on both, the clothes and the baby’s skin.
What we need to ensure is, rinsing the clothes well and drying them completely before use.
Using antiseptics and additional sanitizers is not recommended.
THE GOOD AND NOT-SO-GOOD MATERIALS FOR BABY CLOTHES
Cotton is hands-down the best material for babies. With its breathability index and soft texture, it’s safe and smooth on the skin.
Materials like wool, fur, raw silk, fleece, and synthetics are likely to cause irritations.
Too many layers of clothing when not really necessary could also hamper the natural breathability of the baby’s skin, and cause irritations.
From common issues to look out for, bathing, and when to introduce (the right) products to diaper rashes, laundry, and clothing, Dr. Sanjay Wazir helped us gain better perspective and so much insight into caring for new-born skin! Here’s a warm note (and a long blog) of gratitude to him.
Hope you found this helpful!