All of us yearn for healthy glowing skin, free from pimples and marks, baby soft and smooth.
The soft blemish free skin we are born with matures with the passage of time and the cumulative effects of sun exposure, pollution, bad diet and lifestyle choices, stress, smoking , use of wrong skin products etc. contribute to the decline in skin health.
Skin aging is inevitable but proper skin care can delay the onset of visible signs of aging. Remember, the earlier you start the better.
The 4 basic steps in infant skin care are – Proper cleansing, Protecting with suitable moisturizers, Nappy care and Sun protection.
Remember less is more here. The barrier function of baby’s skin is not yet developed. The baby’s skin is thin, immature and tends to dry quickly.
A quick warm water bath lasting not more than 5 -8 minutes followed by soft towel drying (patting action rather than vigorous rubbing) is sufficient to cleanse.
Choose cleansers which are specially formulated for soft baby skin, non-perfumed, hypoallergenic and are PH balanced. Adult soaps should not be used. While it is not necessarily the expensive branded products that are needed it is even more essential to know what to avoid. Products containing harsh surfactants such as sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens, alcohol, formaldehyde, and fragrances should never be used on babies. Safe ingredient options are ceramides, aloe, shea butter, oats which are calming and soothing to baby’s skin.
Apply a baby lotion or baby cream immediately after the bath to seal in the natural skin oils and protect the skin.
Avoid the use of baby powders. Everybody loves the idea of babies smelling great but products with fragrances are often associated with allergies and respiratory problems. A baby’s skin smells good on its own!
Nappy changes should occur at regular intervals to avoid irritation to the perineal skin.
Disposable nappies are preferred
Cotton balls or soft disposable towels with warm water are the preferred cleansing method.
Wipes should be avoided (if required they should be free from alcohol and fragrance)
Barrier creams should be used on all neonates at risk of perineal dermatitis at every nappy change at the first sign of erythema or skin breakdown.
Childhood is an important phase in which health behaviors such as sun protection should be established.
Sun avoidance is strongly recommended for infants under 6 months of age.
Application of sunscreen (opt for titanium and zinc oxide based physical sunscreens), wearing UV-protective clothing (including a hat and sunglasses) and seeking shade are the most important and recommended sun safe behaviors.
The SPF or Sun Protection Factor should be minimum 30.
Traditional Bathing Practices
It is important to talk about certain traditional bathing practices and what is best for baby’s skin.
Massaging the baby’s skin with various oils has been practiced through generations. As the baby’s skin is delicate and has a tendency for drying ,this protective coating of oil can be protective . Studies have shown that massaging the baby has a positive effect through tactile stimulation and a positive effect on growth and thermoregulation. It makes for an enjoyable bath time routine and mother child bonding.
However adverse effects of using baby oils like skin rashes , infections can occur especially with use of perfumed baby oils, unhygienic practices etc.
Massaging with simple emollients or moisturizing creams is recommended.
2. Using gram flour/ turmeric/ milk paste
Use of this paste has been hailed as skin lightener and having the effect of reducing body hair. However, gram-flour can be abrasive on delicate baby skin and can also cause skin allergies, hence best avoided