Here’s a few tips to help avoid and soothe baby’s skin mishaps.
Why is baby’s skin easily irritated?
Although a baby's lifetime skin cell capital is at its peak at birth, their skin is still particularly sensitive in the early months since it is immature compared to that of adults:
• A baby's skin is thinner and more fragile than an adult's;
• A baby's skin does not have a full barrier function until 2 years old;
• At birth, a baby's skin is dehydrated and lacks a protective hydrolipidic film; (made of sebum and sweat).
This has various consequences:
• It dries out more quickly.
• It is more sensitive to external stresses such as cold, wind, sun, friction, nappy maceration, saliva, and so on.
• It has a stronger reaction to potentially irritating chemicals (sensitizing ingredients that could cause allergy)
In brief, until the age of 2, a baby's skin goes through significant changes and must be protected.
Discover our E.V.E.I.L.S research program to learn more about the physiology of baby skin (Evaluation of the Early Infant Life: the Skin).
How to soothe minor sores and irritations
If you have sore cheeks/mouth area, broken skin due to eczema flare-ups, insect bites, or minor burns, here's how to treat them.
Reddish skin on the body or on the face
Wool, synthetic, or scratchy materials that come into close contact with a baby's skin might cause itching. Even rubbing your garments together can irritate your skin. Irritations around the lips and other parts of the face might be caused by cold, dry air, or even drooling.
What to do:
- Apply a recovery cream to the affected area.
- Choose 100% cotton textiles that are soft and comfortable.
It's most likely a nappy rash if you see a rash on your baby's bottom that soon evolves into red areas. It can be caused by irritation from wet nappies and friction, as well as diarrhoea, teething, and other factors.
- Clean the area with soap and water or a no-rinse cleansing water, cleansing gel or wipes.
- Dry thoroughly and apply a nappy cream as soon as redness emerges.
- Seek medical help if the rash does not improve.
Itchy red, puffy, dry patches on baby’s skin? This could be eczema or atopic dermatitis.
Read our dedicated articles to learn how to identify and treat this skin condition.
Insect bites traces, stings, scratches and minor injuries
A couple of hungry mosquitoes… and baby’s skin is covered with bites… A wobbly stand up… and there comes a fall and a bump!
What to do:
- Clean carefully with water and soap and/or disinfect
- Leave to dry
- Apply a recovery cream
Ouch! Baby just burnt himself by running his hand under hot water! Or by spilling hot coffee? If his skin is just reddish, this is a first degree burn.
What to do:
- Run baby’s hand under cold water for a few minutes
- Then apply a soothing cream
- If the burn is wider or deeper, head for the hospital!
In case of sunburn, check our specific advice in our sun-related articles.
How to prevent irritated skin
A few simple tips to avoid most common skin irritations, on a daily basis:
Choose adapted products
• Pick products that are specifically designed for babies and children and adapted to their skin type: normal, dry, very sensitive or eczema-prone skin.
• Avoid products with alcohol and essential oils, as they can cause irritation.
• Use a hypoallergenic detergent, suitable for baby’s skin.
Good bathing habits
• Make sure the water is lukewarm: if it’s too hot, it can damage baby’s skin
• If baby has dry skin, a bath every other day can be enough
• Dry baby’s skin with a clean, dry towel, and don’t forget the skin folds!
Pay attention to nappy change
Extreme temperatures should be avoided
• Do not overheat your home
• When the weather gets cold moisturise baby’s face
• Protect baby’s skin from the sun.