Keep Your Baby’s Skin Soft and Kissable

There’s nothing sweeter than your baby’s skin -- those chubby folds, delicious smell, velvety smoothness! So you may be surprised when your baby’s peaches-and-cream complexion starts erupting in rashes, dandruff, and even acne. What’s going on here?

Newborn skin
As newborns transition from womb to world, they often develop skin conditions that may be less than adorable but, fortunately, pretty harmless. Most conditions even clear up on their own within a few days or weeks. Here’s what you might see on your baby’s skin during his first few months:

  • Milk spots, or milia, are tiny pearly white bumps that commonly show up on a newborn’s cheeks, chin or nose (almost half of all babies get it). Milia can happen when skin flakes get trapped near the surface of the skin. Don’t worry -- they should vanish within a few weeks.
  • Baby acne shows up within the first three to four weeks as red or white bumps on your baby’s forehead or cheeks. Again, perfectly normal, baby acne affects half of all babies. Experts believe it may come from hormonal changes that stimulate your baby’s oil glands. Wash your baby’s face with water and mild baby soap (no scrubbing or squeezing!) and avoid lotions or oils. The acne should clear up within about three months.

  • Cradle cap consists of yellowish crusty or greasy, scaly patches on your newborn’s scalp caused by a buildup of sebum, an oily substance that makes cells clump together instead of shedding normally. It should clear up on its own within a few months. You can make it disappear faster by loosening the scales with a soft-bristle brush and then shampooing your baby’s hair daily with a mild baby shampoo.

  • Skin peeling occurs in about 75 percent of newborns, but it’s especially common in babies born after their due date. Unless your baby’s skin is cracking, skip the moisturizer. After your baby is 1 month old, you can apply a hypoallergenic baby lotion to keep his skin soft.
  • Neonatal urticaria sounds scary, but it’s just red blotches that come and go on your newborn’s body. The blotches have tiny red centers that may contain pus, but again, they’re nothing to worry about and will gradually fade on their own.
  • Blue feet or hands can seem alarming, but knowing the cause should help you relax: Your baby’s circulation is still immature, so sometimes his blood doesn’t efficiently reach his extremities. If you see blue hues on the skin of your baby’s feet or hands, pick him up or gently rub those areas and the color should return.
  • Diaper rash. Your baby’s bottom can get surprisingly red and sore when trapped in a dirty diaper for too long. But don’t feel like a slacker in the diaper-change department -- it can also come from new foods in the diet and even from having super-sensitive baby skin.

    To treat the rash, change your baby’s diaper more often, clean his diaper region thoroughly with a fresh baby wipe or spray a couple drops of water, let the skin air dry, and apply a thick layer of ointment containing zinc oxide or petroleum jelly to the irritated areas. Use a diaper to help protect his delicate bottom while he sleeps.