A newborn requires special care in many aspects including skin care. The newborn’s skin is not fully mature & differs from adult skin in various ways making it susceptible to minor trauma, friction & different kinds of infection. In current times where preterm labour & premature & low birth weight babies are more common, extra care & expertise is required in handling these newborns as their skin is even more fragile & prone.
At birth newborn skin is covered with vernix, blood & cellular debris & all this should preferably be cleaned from head and neck area after birth.
BATHING: Gentle bath with lukewarm water should be given once baby’s temperature is stable; usually 2-6 hours after birth. For the first few weeks of life use lukewarm water only. In low birth weight, premature babies & in winter bathing can be delayed. For bath avoid scented & colored products & harsh soaps, be gentle in handling, avoid prolonged bath & once done dry up quickly whole body & dress up in clean washed dry clothes. Soaps and cleansers can cause skin dryness, irritation , alter pH predisposing to infections; hence their use should be minimal. As for clothing prefer soft & cotton based.
DIAPER RASH: is caused by contact with urine or faeces soiled diaper. Diaper should be checked & changed frequently; skin should be cleaned and air dried between napkin changes. Wash with simple plain water & pat dry without vigorous rubbing. If any rash petroleum jelly or ZnO containing barrier cream can be used. For non-healing rashes consult your doctor as it may be some other problem like eczema, psoriasis, bacterial or fungal infection.
BABY POWDER: should be avoided in initial few weeks & also from face area as that may cause breathing problem.
SCALP AREA: specially formulated baby shampoos should be used that are free from fragrances & additives & non-irritating to eyes. For greasy yellow crusted scalp condition ie seborrhoeic dermatitis – ketoconazole, Zn pyrithione ,Se sulphide containing shampoo should be used.
MASSAGE: helps to improve general well-being, immunity,sleep and has a calming effect. Use mild baby oil, coconut oil or olive oil.mustard oil should be avoided as it may irritate skin. Massaging should be gentle and firm else may cause skin rashes and folliculitis.
MOISTURISER: Mild non-irritant moisturizers preferably cream and lotion based should be used. They help in hydration of skin, improve barrier function, decrease peeling and dermatitis. In warm weather use of massage and moisturizer should be minimal to prevent maceration & blockage of sweat pores.
Do not resort to archaic measures like applying cow dung,honey, breast milk,turmeric on newborn skin,umbilical stump or eye lesion. It may lead to serious infectious complications.
Kajal even homemade should be discouraged esp over eyes
Keep cord area clean with plain water
Tissue wipes use should be minimal & only on healthy appearing skin. Allow no-nappy intervals frequently
Any vomitus, food soiling on &around mouth should be cleaned immediately.
Parents and other attenders should maintain utmost hygiene esp of hands