I'm Dr. Malik Shah and I'm an MD, Pediatrics.
An infant's skin is premature. In adults, skin is of two layers epidermis and under it, dermis. Keratin (dead tissue) covers the epidermis. In babies, this keratin is missing and develops after a week or so. In premature babies this development takes even more time. It is very important to take care of such delicate tissue. Skin is a major and sensitive organ. Heart, lungs, etc are smaller in size tan the skin. If skin gets diseased then it becomes a window for baby's body to many other diseases.
When to start applying lotion to newborns?
Not before keratin formation as it may penetrate into body. The job of lotion is to moisturize the keratin. I recommend usage of lotions after 15 days.
What to apply to a newborn’s peeling skin?
Apply hydrating, moisturizing lotion if it is due to dryness. If it is an infection like eczema then skin will be flaky. It'll need to be treated by a doctor. Feed baby every half hour to keep it hydrated. Bigger babies like 1-2 year old must be given sufficient water.
How often should you bathe a newborn?
Cleanliness and hygiene of a baby is important. When to give bath is a debatable topic. Pediatrics suggest not to give a bath until the umbilical cord falls off. Till then you can do sponging once or twice a day. After the cord falls off, you can give a bath daily or once every two days according to season. You can use baby bath soap but bathing time shouldn't be more than 5 minutes. If sensitive skin is exposed to water for longer the keratin layer may be lost.
What oil should I use for baby?
Since India is a tropical country, coconut oil is light and suitable.
What are pros and cons of applying besan, ghee, curd etc on baby?
Doctors usually don't recommend any of these as they can cause skin allergies. If your baby is not allergic then you can apply.
What are some winter care tips for babies?
It is commonly believed that winter dries up skin which is why moisturizer should be used liberally. But the same doesn't apply to babies. If the baby is exclusively being breastfed then no moisturisers or creams are required. Breastfeeding keep their skin hydrated. Post 6 months you can use moisturizer once or twice a day and baby safe lip balms . If the baby has itching, rash or swelling then visit pediatrician. Immediately consult a pediatrician if rash is in elbow folds or neck folds. If there's a family history of skin atrophy then consult your pediatrician. Don't stop bathing in winter. A quick bath in warm water should be given regularly.
How to protect sensitive skin of baby?
Some babies have sensitive skin which dries soon and reacts to dust, pollen and pollution easily. Such skin types need extra care. Use hood soap and lotion.
Which powder should I use for baby?
Powder should not be used at all. Particulate matter of powder doesn't get absorbed or moisturise the skin. It just forms a layer over the keratin. It it ces into contact with liquid like urine or sweat then it becomes cakey and causes rashes. Do not use any talc in your baby's skincare routine.
How many times should I massage my baby?
Once a day is enough. It should not include hard rubbing which can redden the skin. Massage with gentle pressure to relax. Putting oil into ears or genitals or any other such part is not recommended.
Which brand of soap, shampoo, lotion is recommended by doctors for a 3 month old?
You can try a reputed brand and if it's suitable then you can continue.
Can I use sesame oil for baby?
It is not easily available. Coconut oil is a better option.
My baby is 25 days old. Since it is very cold in Delhi, I put him in diapers most often to not wet him in urine. Can diaper be worn 24x7? If so how to care for the skin? Can I powder the area with talc?
No talc should be used for babies. The job of diaper is to keep the skin dry and absorb wetness. However talc will hold onto the dampness and hamper the diaper’s function. It can cause skin rashes too. Use Easy Nappy or Before Nappy kind of wet wipes. You can put baby in diaper whole day but you should keep checking from time to time and change it before it is saturated.
Which oil should be used during winter? Pure mustard oil is causing rashes. Can olive oil be used?
Coconut oil is best no matter what the season. If baby is not having any problems with olive oil then it can be used.
My baby is 9 months old and has developed allergies, itching and redness around eyes. Doctor prescribed medicine and sunscreen lotion. But I think its a temporary measure. What is the permanent solution?
Hydration is important. Apply face moisturizer as it seems your baby has dry skin. What your doctor has prescribed is not a temporary solution. It is a permanent one but will take time to show results. You have to keep patience. The condition can come and go for the next 1-2 years but gradually it will subside.
My baby is 4 months old and has developed allergy around lips.
Such allergies occur if mouth is not cleaned after feeding. It happens because saliva and milk accumulate there and become a feeding ground for germ. Get it checked by doctor.
What can I do to avoid mosquito bites?
There are baby safe patches and rubs available to repel mosquitoes. Avoid using odomos or other such brands as there are no clinical trials to prove their safety for babies.
Which cream is recommended for dry skin? My baby is a year old and Johnson baby lotion isn't working.
You have to use an intense moisturizer. Aquasoft is good. You can use it 2-4 times a day. Hydration is important. Ensure that your baby drinks at least 700ml of water apart from other fluids. With dry skin, avoid using medicated creams without a prescription. Steroid applications need to be prescribed by doctor with proper dosage.
After bath I observe rashes on baby's skin.
Try to change the soap brand and see if that improves the skin. If it's severe the get it checked by doctor.
I'm summary, hydration from inside is important. As baby grows older you can add external moisturiser to the routine. Ensure that your baby drinks sufficient water. Best recipe for healthy skin is breastfeeding exclusively till 6 months and hydration after that. You can also feed dry fruits every day once baby starts eating regular food. Consult doctor for genetic skin conditions like eczema.
Also read: Fun Things to do with Your Newborn