Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Skincare for Your Baby March 4, 2010

Harper’s Bazaar has a regular feature about how to wear fashion trends according to your age.  They even wrote a whole book about it.  So I thought – why not write a few blog posts about skincare according to age?  I’ll begin by addressing how to care for your baby’s skin.

Please note – this post contains recommendation for how to care for your baby’s skin.  The recommendations here are not meant to replace the care and advice of a trained medical professional.  Please see a doctor if you have concerns about your baby’s health.

I learned the information contained in this post the hard way.  Two and a half years ago my husband and I had a baby boy during the winter in Chicago.  Pretty soon after his birth our son developed a list of skincare issues – dry, red skin (eczema), lots of crusty patches on his scalp (cradle cap), and a red, nasty looking patch on his cheek (a staph infection).  My husband and I were extremely well-meaning new parents but, I’ll admit it, clueless.  We followed our pediatrician’s recommendations for bathing our son but never thought to moisturize his skin after his baths or ever.  But as luck would have it our son went to see a pediatric dermatologist before he was six months old because of the hemangioma birthmark  he was born with on his chest.  The pediatric dermatologist gave us the best advice we could have received on how to care for our infant son’s skin.  Since following her advice our son’s eczema has disappeared with only one or two minor reoccurrences.  As for the terrible cradle cap our pediatrician helped us learn how to care for that.  And the staph infections?  A prescription topical cream took care of that.

So what did we learn?

Be gentle:  There is no reason to buy skincare products that are marketed for use only on babies or children.  Personally I also see no reason to go the all organic or natural route since there is little or no regulation over these terms.  Instead look for skincare products that are fragrance free (fragrance can cause major skin irritation to sensitive baby skin) and marketed toward people with sensitive skin.  Many skincare products that are labeled “for babies” contain lots of fragrance that can easily irritate a child’s skin.  We wash our son with Cetaphil cleanser.  Immediately afterwards we moisturize his entire body, from head to toe, with either Cetaphil moisturizer (in the winter) or Lubriderm (in the summer).  Another plus about using the above mentioned products?  We are able to buy the Cetaphil products and Lubriderm at our local Costco wholesale store which means we always have plenty on hand and save money too.

If your child does have eczema you can get a prescription cream to apply to that area until the dry, red, and itchy patches disappear.  After that be sure to gently clean your child’s skin and moisturize it.  That should help prevent the eczema from returning.

Cradle Cap:  As I mentioned above our son had a terrible case of cradle cap.  I tried to alleviate our son’s cradle cap with a well documented natural “cure” – you massage your child’s head with olive oil, gently brush the scalp, and then rinse it.  Unfortunately this did nothing for our son’s severe cradle cap.  Luckily my doctor suggested using a very small amount of anti-dandruff shampoo to wash our son’s hair (our pedetrician recommended Nizoral shampoo) and this took care of the problem.  When I took a break from using the anti-dandruff shampoo our son started getting seborrhea on his scalp.  Once we started using the anti-dandruff shampoo on a daily basis that problem disappeared, never to return.

Diaper Rash:  Unfortunately, at some point or another your baby will probably get a red, irritated bottom.  It will be very painful for your baby when you change their diaper.  Look for diaper creams with zinc oxide in them since zinc oxide is both soothing and protective.  Two creams that my husband and I found worked great are Desitin and A&D Ointment with Zinc Oxide.

When we get closer to summer I am definitely planning on devoting an entire post to baby and child sun protection.  In the meantime I just want to mention that it is a myth that you should not use sunscreen on children under the age of 6 months.  In addition, children need sunscreen year-round, just like adults.

Further Reading:

  • Baby Skin Development and Treatment by Kim Walls – Skin Inc. July 2009.  I don’t agree entirely with all that she writes in this article, but it is a good introduction to how the skin develops.
  • Baby Skin – by Paula Begoun  As with all of Begoun’s product ratings use her reviews as a guide, not as the word of law
  • Toxic Baby-Care Products by Paula Begoun
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