Baby Your Baby’s Skin

One of the most delightful things about your baby is his perfect skin. But that same delicate skin can also erupt in irritated rashes, red bumps, and skin flakes. Fortunately, most skin issues are minor and can be easily treated. Here are some conditions you might encounter, and how to soothe them:

Baby acne
If you notice red or white bumps on your baby’s forehead or cheeks, he probably has baby acne. This condition shows up within the first three to four weeks of life, and it results from hormonal changes that stimulate the oil glands. It usually disappears on its own within a few months. Wash your baby’s skin with a mild baby soap daily, and avoid using lotions or oils. Never pinch or scrub the bumps. If the acne doesn’t go away within three months, talk to your pediatrician.

Diaper rash
More than half of all infants develop diaper rash, especially when they start solids. Prolonged contact with a dirty diaper is usually the culprit. To prevent diaper rash, change diapers promptly. Clean your baby’s skin with gentle baby wipes or a squirt bottle with water, and pat until bone dry (if you apply anything over moist skin, it only prolongs the problem).

Apply a small amount of petroleum jelly or a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic moisturizing lotion to protect baby’s skin. If there’s a rash already, apply a thick layer of zinc oxide or petroleum jelly. Expose your baby’s bottom to air frequently. The rash should disappear within 48 to 72 hours. If it doesn’t, or the skin develops sores or bleeds, contact your pediatrician.

If you have a family history of allergies or eczema (also called atopic dermatitis), your baby may develop eczema, too. Symptoms include itching, redness, and small bumps. Most babies will outgrow eczema, but the condition can linger. To reduce the irritation, avoid giving your baby long, hot baths, and moisturize his skin often with an unscented lotion.

Your baby may develop this condition in response to irritants such as rough fabrics, bubble baths, or even his own drool. Remove the offending irritant and apply a lukewarm compress to your baby’s skin. If the itching is extreme, ask your doctor about using a mild cortisone cream or an antihistamine; these ointments may help control any itching or swelling your baby is experiencing. If the rash becomes infected, you may need to give your baby an antibiotic.

Cradle cap
If you see yellow, crusty, or greasy patches on your newborn’s scalp, your baby probably has cradle cap. This condition usually goes away by itself, but you can help your baby’s skin heal by shampooing daily with a mild baby shampoo. If the flakes resist treatment, try rubbing a few drops of mineral oil onto the scalp. Let it sit, then gently brush and shampoo. If cradle cap persists, talk to your pediatrician, who may offer other recommendations, such as an adult dandruff shampoo.