Why your baby’s skin needs special care
We used to think that baby’s skin was fully developed at birth and that it was just like an adult’s skin – only thicker, softer and silky-smooth without blemishes, scars or wrinkles!
Research has changed all that. Today we know that a baby’s skin is very different. For the first nine months a baby’s life, s/he swims in a liquid called amniotic fluid. For protection from constant moisture, the skin develops a waxy-layer called vernix, and fine hair called lanugo. After the birth, the baby’s skin has to adapt to living in air or a dry environment, to chemicals, clothes, nappies, the weather and pollution.
A baby’s skin is delicate and fragile and unnecessary irritants can cause atopic dermatitis (skin rashes) and eczema.
A baby’s skin is made to stretch and grow. Because babies are growing so quickly, their skin cells must divide and multiply faster than they ever will again to keep up with this growth. If you could take a microscopic look at your baby’s skin, you would find lots of hard-working fibroblasts. These are the ‘scaffolding’ for new cells to grow. The quick turn-over and easy-replacement of skin cells means that babies heal faster than adults do, and they’re less likely to scar.
The outer layer of a baby’s skin (called the epidermis) is 20 – 30% thinner than the skin of an adult, and this makes it an ineffective barrier. This means that babies lose body moisture more easily, their skin is easily irritated (damaged) and can become infected because babies have a weak immune system.
The temperature-controlling mechanism of skin is immature in babies. Because they don’t sweat they can overheat. But they can also lose heat through their skin, putting them at risk for getting cold or becoming hypothermic.
Apart from premature and small-for-dates babies, baby’s skin has more fat cells which means that it’s easier for fat soluble substances (and chemicals) to be absorbed into their skin.
A baby’s skin can sunburn more easily because they make less of the pigment called melanin that helps to protect their skin from the ultraviolet rays of the sun.
Finally, because a baby’s skin ‘dries out’ more easily, they’re more prone to eczema.
How can you protect your baby’s skin?
While your baby needs some sunshine for Vitamin D, it’s important to protect your baby’s skin from the harsh ultraviolet rays of the sun. You can’t use sunscreen because it’s absorbed by your baby’s fat cells, so it’s important not to take your baby out in the sun at the hottest time of the day for more than ten minutes at a time. Your baby should be wearing a sunhat, be covered with a shade in the stroller and ideally have baby sunglasses for the glare.
Don’t use harsh chemicals on your baby’s skin – these are absorbed into the baby’s skin and can cause skin irritations. Only use baby-care products of the highest quality.
If your baby has ‘baby acne’ this usually clears on its own without chemicals, scrubbing or astringents.
Don’t use insect repellents on your baby’s skin.
Only use carefully formulated skin products that cater specifically for a baby’s skin.
Skin care is important throughout life. Preventing sunburn can go a long way to minimizing the risk of melanoma’s or skin cancer when your child is older. Healthy skin is the sign of a healthy body. Beauty may only be skin-deep, but the skin is the body’s outer cover that we show to the world.
Probiotic Baby Body Cream
Soothing Baby Lotion
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