Infant Skin Conditions — What to expect and Treatments
It’s a common misconception that all babies are born with silky smooth and flawless skin. In fact, there are all sorts of harmless rashes, spots and bumps that they might experience in their first year of life, so it’s good to educate yourself on what to expect. Following is a head-to-toe guide on baby skin conditions for soon to be and new parents.
Infant acne is probably one of the most common acne skin conditions experienced by babies, about 40 percent to be exact. It rears its pinkish head at about two to three weeks of age and can often last until the baby is four to six months old. These pimples are attributed to the mother’s hormones, which are passed on and circulate in the little one's bloodstream, inadvertently stimulating the baby's inactive oil glands, causing red bumps to appear. The silver lining is that while they're not a pretty sight, these acne doesn’t cause your baby any discomfort and won't leave permanent scars as long as you don’t pick on them. Just wash the affected area with water two or three times a day, gently pat it dry and never use adult acne creams.
If you notice crusty yellow scales, deep red bumps and dandruff-like flakes while patting your baby's head, these are markers of cradle cap. Simply put, cradle cap is a kind of dandruff on babies common in the first 3 months and can persist to a year. The culprit is hormones that pass from the mother to the baby before birth. These hormones can cause too much production of oil (sebum) in the oil glands and hair follicles. This dermatitis in babies usually clears up on its own in weeks or a few months. However, if you can’t stand the sight of the flakes, home care measures including massaging baby's scalp with virgin coconut oil to loosen dead skin, followed by a thorough Natural Baby Shampoo should do the trick to rid the flakes and excess oil.
While most of the skin conditions listed here doesn’t cause discomfort, the same can’t be said about infant eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis. Uncomfortable and itchy, this rash starts on the face and spreads throughout the body. Eczema in babies presents itself in two main ways — firstly, a baby may seem fussy or irritable for no reason or constantly rubbing the cheeks or body on surfaces. Secondly, it’s identifiable through dry, flaky skin that can be either skin tone or appear pink or red. Small, fluid-filled pimples that burst and ooze can also develop on the skin and needless to say, it’s an uncomfortable experience for a baby and heartbreaking for parents. The type of eczema treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms, but you can ease their discomfort with a gentle hypoallergenic moisturiser or go natural with an organic virgin coconut oil while your baby’s skin is still damp from a bath. You can also leave a cool-mist humidifier running in their bedroom.
Impetigo, a highly contagious skin infection in infants and children can be identified through red sores that appear on the face, especially the nose and mouth. Worry not, it’s quite common and is caused by one of two types of bacteria (streptococci or staphylococci) which enters the baby’s system through a break in skin. Impetigo can spread to the rest of the body and appears in two forms — bullous (fluid-filled blisters that burst, leaving a yellowish-brown crust) and non-bullous (thick yellow-crusty scabs surrounded by lots of redness). The best way to get ahead of this skin condition is to keep your baby's diaper area clean and dry. It’s also best to check in with a doctor to confirm your suspicions.
If adults like us experience flaky, tight skin — signs of dry skin, babies are no different. Babies tend to be more susceptible given that their skin is tender and extra sensitive. To combat dry skin, your best armour is hydration. This means ensuring your little one gets sufficient fluids from breast milk and/or formula. Onto physical moisturisation, apply a hypoallergenic lotion after baths using natural baby cleansers and avoid long tub sessions, which can irritate skin, Finally, go the extra mile and keep your baby's room humidified.
When living in a tropical climate where the weather is hot, or at the peak of summer, a baby’s sweat-gland ducts tend to get clogged under the skin, which results in tiny red spots or rashes on a baby’s face, neck, armpits and upper torso. Though heat rash usually fades on its own within a week, your baby could experience minor discomfort and itchiness. Give them relief by dipping them in a cool bath. Refrain from using powders or lotions during this time because it could clog the ducts even further. Consult your doctor if pustules, increased swelling or redness develops.
The strawberry-red birthmarks or hemangioma are dubbed so because of the colour. How do they develop? The red hues that usually appear on a baby's head, chest or upper back come from a collection of blood vessels close to the skin’s surface. While seeing a hemangioma might be worrisome for new parents, take comfort in the fact that they are common and short-lived. The best treatment is to let the hemangioma fade naturally. However, if you find that it continues to grow, spontaneously bleeds, becomes infected, or interferes with the baby's vision or ability to eat, consult your doctor. Compression and massage can help hasten the strawberry birthmarks’ fading. More aggressive treatments include steroids, surgery, laser therapy, cryotherapy (freezing) and injection of hardening agents.
Stork Bites (Nevi simplex)
Stork Bites are common terms used to describe a skin condition called nevi simplex, also known as angel kisses. These salmon-colored birthmarks often appear on the nape of the neck where the proverbial stork might have carried your bundle of joy, hence its name. It can also appear on the forehead, eyelids, around the nose and upper lip, disappearing when the baby is about 18 months. Stork bites are caused by dilated and stretched capillaries or blood vessels under the skin. It can become darker when the baby cries or if there’s a change in room temperature. Ninety-five percent of stork bites fade naturally with time.
If you notice the appearance of gray-blue patches on your baby that look almost like a bruise or a birthmark, it’s most likely Mongolian spots. Don’t be alarmed, they do not hurt. Commonly found across babies in Africa, Asian, India and the Mediterranean, the patches are caused by simple variations in skin pigmentation and usually appear and disappear all within the first year. Mongolian spots typically disappear spontaneously within four years but can persist for life.
A sore, red and bumpy bottom are tell-tale signs of diaper rash — a common skin infection that's typically caused by too much moisture, little ventilation and irritants (think everything from urine and stool to common baby products like diapers, wipes and soaps). To help clear up diaper rash, check your baby's diaper often and change it as soon as it's wet or soiled. Gently clean the diaper area with soap and water and pat dry. Try using a different type of soaps during baths. Diaper rash usually goes away within 2 to 3 days with home care, although it can last longer.