Who isn’t in awe of the smooth, soft, delicate skin of an infant? But infants can be prone to skin irritations - diaper rash, cradle cap, eczema and other skin conditions. It can be hard to know what to do when rashes appear to help ease your baby’s discomfort.
The following are tips on treating some common skin conditions and keeping your baby’s skin clear and healthy.
Keep in mind that rashes are often a normal part of infancy. Most rashes aren’t irritating or itchy and will frequently go away on their own. However, if you aren’t sure or the rash is getting worse or not going away, talk with your pediatrician.
Skip using talcum powder. Babies can inhale the fine powder, which may cause lung problems. Corn starch-based powders can also cause fungal infections. It is best to skip using powders at all.
Use gentle detergents to wash your baby’s clothes and bedding. Harsher detergents can sometimes have ingredients that cause irritation. Look for detergents that are fragrance and dye-free.
Pay attention to sun exposure. Keep your child out of direct sunlight for at least six months, and then use sunscreen, light clothing, umbrellas and hats to protect your baby’s delicate skin. If your child does get sunburned, talk with your doctor about what you can do to ease the discomfort.
Bathe your child using warm water and keep bath time down to five minutes or less. Apply moisturizer while your baby’s skin is still moist. Infants don’t need to be bathed more than three times per week. More frequent baths can dry your child’s skin. You should use a cloth with warm water to clean your baby’s skin on a daily basis.
Children with a family history of allergies or asthma may develop ** eczema**, a red, itchy rash that becomes scaly and dry. Use warm soapy water and small amounts of moisturizer to help relieve the rash. Eczema often has certain triggers, so pay attention to environmental and psychological factors that may be causing outbreaks.
Diaper rash** can be avoided** by changing your child’s diaper as soon as it is wet, washing with a warm cloth and using a cream with zinc oxide. Diapers that are too tight may also cause diaper rash. If your child does get diaper rash that doesn’t go away, try changing your detergent or baby wipes - chemicals in these can sometimes cause rashes.
Baby ** acne** is a common condition and usually clears up on its own within a few weeks. Baby acne can appear as red or white bumps on the face. Because your baby’s skin is sensitive, it isn’t a good idea to use acne creams or lotions. Instead, wash your child’s face twice a day with a warm cloth.
Many babies have birthmarks. Sometimes these may not show up until your baby is a few months old. Birthmarks do not need to be treated unless it continues to change in shape, size and color.
Cradle cap** is a scaly rash on the scalp,** but may also appear on the eyebrows, eyelids, behind the ears or on the nose. It usually clears up within a few months and doesn’t require any treatment, but washing your child’s hair and using a soft brush to get rid of the dry skin may help.
Prickly heat** rashes cause small red bumps** and appear where your baby is prone to sweating. Keep your baby cool and in loose clothing. That should help clear it up.
Some signs that a rash should be seen by your pediatrician include red or purple dots, yellow fluid-filled bumps, or if your child has additional symptoms, such as a fever, irritability or is lethargic.
“Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5,” 2009, Edited by Steven P. Shelov, M.D., American Academy of Pediatrics
“Common Skin Care Problems with Infants,” Date Unknown, Staff Writer, MamasHealth.com
“Skin Care Practices for Newborns and Infants: Review of the Clinical Evidence for Best Practices,” 2012, Jan-Feb, U. Blume-Peytavi et al, Pediatric Dermatology
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.