Minor IrritationsOctober 2, 2010 No Comments
We all know how beautiful a newborn baby’s skin is, but, whether we like it or not, a newborn can experience a variety of skin irritations during its first year. Modern Mum looks at the most common complaints.
It’s important to remember that newborn babies are prone to many completely benign spots, blemishes and birthmarks and most are nothing to worry about. More serious spots in newborn babies tend to appear on the body, look more like a red rash and are often accompanied by a fever. Your baby may be more irritable or fussy, too. If you are worried about any skin blemishes or irritations on your baby’s face, then have them checked out by your GP, midwife or health visitor.
Just as with adults, babies and children can experience dry skin. Indeed, because young skin is more delicate, it’s actually more susceptible to becoming dry.
If you find that your baby is prone to patches of dry skin, then cut back on the amount of time your baby spends in the bath, as this tends to remove the skin’s natural oils. You don’t have to cut out bathing completely, but, instead of a twenty-minute bath, cut bath time down to about ten minutes. Use warm water and use a fragrance-free, soap-free cleanser, which is much less harsh than regular soap. Bath oils may seem like the perfect solution to dry skin, but they can make the bath dangerously slippery, so it’s better to apply some time of emollient or moisturising cream after the bath. Dry skin is obviously affected by the elements, so it’s important to protect your baby from both hot and cold weather. In cold weather, make sure your baby wears mittens to keep his hands from becoming dry and chapped from the cold and the wind. In summer, take steps to protect him from sunburn.
Milk spots are tiny, white spots, which appear across the nose, cheeks, chin, forehead, or around the eyes. They are extremely common in newborns and normally appear a couple of weeks after birth because the oil glands on the face are still developing (Cooper 2008). Your baby’s milk spots won’t cause him any pain or discomfort beyond a mild itchiness and they should clear up on their own within a month to six weeks.
Cradle cap is a crusting and scaling rash, which is found on the scalps of many healthy babies. Cradle cap can occur in any baby, and most commonly begins at some point during the first three months. As humans, we are constantly making new skin cells at about the same rate that we lose old, dry skin cells. In most cases, the old skin simply falls off and we usually don’t even notice the process. In many healthy infants, however, the skin cells on their scalp grow faster than they fall off, leaving a layer of somewhat crusty, extra skin.
If your baby develops cradle cap, then patchy scales and redness will develop on the scalp. The scales can appear cracked, greasy, or even weeping. The same rash may also be visible around the ear or the eyebrows. If it appears in other areas as well, then it is referred to as seborrhoeic dermatitis, rather than cradle cap.
In most children, cradle cap is gone by eight to twelve months of age, and, in fact, is often long gone before that. Treatment is generally not required, but if you find that your baby is itching, or scratching the affected area, then simply rub a small amount of baby oil, or olive oil into the patch. Wait several minutes for the oil to soften and loosen the scales, and brush them away with a soft brush or a dry terry-cloth washcloth.
Eczema (also known as dermatitis) is the term used to describe a range of skin conditions characterised by very dry, itchy skin. It can occur anywhere on the body, but, in babies, it mainly manifests itself on the scalp, forehead, and chest and around the joints. In more severe cases it can be incredibly itchy and irritating for your baby and may even disrupt their sleep.
Try to keep your baby’s skin moisturised by generously applying a moisturiser several times during the day. Bath your baby in lukewarm (rather than warmer) water, as this will help your baby’s skin to retain moisture and stay hydrated. Avoid using soap-based bath products and opt instead for those designed for babies with sensitive skin.
If your baby’s eczema is particularly bad, your GP may recommend a steroid cream. You should, however, use steroid creams very sparingly on your baby’s delicate skin, as, over time, these can lead to thinning of the skin.
Shortly after birth or usually within a few weeks of birth, many parents start to notice a rash on their baby’s face that closely resembles acne. It’s actually baby acne, but the causes are quite different in nature from common acne. Baby acne is most commonly present on the cheeks of a newborn, but can also be found on the forehead, chin, and even the back. The outbreaks resemble small whiteheads that are ringed by reddish skin. These outbreaks can also resemble adult pimples and be red and fleshy in appearance.
Although baby acne is quite common, affecting almost 20 per cent of all newborn babies, an exact, proven cause has yet to be discovered. However, many experts believe that the passing of hormones from mother to baby in the last stages of pregnancy can precipitate occurrence of this condition. Since you cannot control the passing of hormones from mother to baby, prevention is nearly impossible. You can however treat the condition to a certain extent.
The best course of treatment for baby acne is to wash your baby’s skin once a day with a mild soap and clean, warm water. Don’t scrub the area, or use medicated soaps, as both of these techniques will make the condition worse and aggravate the skin. You could also try switching household detergents, as harsh chemical residues can make the condition worse. Don’t allow regurgitated milk, saliva, formula, or breast milk to sit on baby’s skin for too long, as these liquids can clog skin pores and result in the appearance of whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples.
Birthmarks are areas of discoloured skin on a baby’s body, which are either present at birth, or which appear within a few months of delivery. Over 80 per cent of babies have some kind of birthmark, and, while some will last forever, others will fade away over time.
Most birthmarks fall into one of two categories: vascular or pigmented. Vascular birthmarks are caused by blood vessels that have accumulated below the surface of the skin. They range in colour from pink to red to bluish, depending on the depth of the blood vessels. Pigmented birthmarks are usually brown, grey, bluish, or black, and these tend to be the result of an abnormal development of pigment cells.
Birthmarks come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and colours, and they can show up anywhere on the body. The most common types are:
’Stork bites’, ‘angel kisses’, salmon patches, and vascular stains: These are blotchy pink or purple flat marks that are formed by dilated capillaries near the surface of the skin. This is the most common type of birthmark, with up to 70 per cent of babies having one or more.
Café au lait spots: Tan or light brown flat patches that sometimes appear in multiples. Between 20 and 50 percent of newborns have one or two of these pigmented birthmarks. They usually fade or get smaller as a child grows, although they may darken with sun exposure.
Moles: Clusters of pigment-making skin cells. Moles vary in size and may be flat or raised, black or brown, hairy or not. Many moles don’t show up until a child is a few years old.
Port-wine stains, or nevus flammeus: Present at birth, these vascular birthmarks range from pale pink to dark purple and can appear anywhere on the body, although they show up most often on the face or head. About one in three hundred babies is born with a port-wine stain.Tags: baby, birthmarks, irritations, skinARTICLES, LIFESTYLE, PARENTING