Photo by Maureen Noce Photography

Baby skin health is a popular topic for many parents. Although term babies have fully competent skin when they are born, their skin continues to develop during their first year of life and is more susceptible to infections and damage than adult skin. This is one of the reasons our family uses Pampers diapers and why I am so excited to partner with Pampers to write this post about common baby skincare concerns. Pampers diapers are designed to protect your baby’s sensitive skin by pulling away wetness and messes – plus they are super soft with no harmful chemicals! I only partner with brands I love, and all opinions are my own. 

Baby Skincare Regime

In general, for baby skincare I recommend keeping the skincare routine really basic and limiting the amount of products used:

  • Bathing does not need to occur daily (unless advised by your health care provider for the management of eczema)
  • Use mild soaps only in specific areas as needed, soaps can be irritating for infant skin
  • Baby skin is sensitive so try to use products that are hypo-allergenic. Note: premature baby skin is still developing which makes it thinner and more prone to damage, so applying petroleum jelly can help lock in moisture and protect the skin. 
  • Moisturizing nightly with a thick, unscented cream 

Common Skin Conditions

Three common skin conditions that affect babies are diaper rash, eczema and cradle cap. Here are my tips on managing diaper rash, eczema and cradle cap!

Diaper Rash

Diaper rash, or diaper dermatitis, is common and often occurs in the first year of life.  In fact, both of my children had diaper rashes during their first month of life – fortunately, their diaper rashes resolved quickly! Most cases of rash in the diaper area are due to irritants to the skin and can often be treated easily. I recommend treating diaper rash with ABCDE!

A – Air

  • One of the easiest things to do at home is to maximize exposure of the affected skin to air.  Removing the diaper removes the cause of the rash – there is no longer a warm, wet diaper rubbing against the affected skin.  
  • If diaper free time is not practical for your family, then frequent diaper changes at least every 3 hours or more often is suggested.  

B – Barrier

  • Topical barriers are one of the most important strategies for managing diaper rash at home. Pastes are the preferred product over ointments and creams.  
  • Find a barrier paste that contains at least 20% zinc oxide and apply it thickly (like icing on a cake!). It can even be covered with petroleum jelly to avoid the paste sticking to the diaper.  
  • Avoid products with fragrance or other ingredients as this can aggravate the skin. 

C – Cleansing

  • The diaper area should be cleaned daily with lukewarm water using irritant-free soap or cleanser.  
  • Aggressive wiping of the diaper area should be avoided. Residual barrier paste does not need to be removed at each diaper change.  
  • Baby wipes should be fragrance free and with minimum preservatives.  Another alternative is to use a damp cloth with water for cleaning the affected area.

D – Diapers

  • Disposable diapers may be better at wicking moisture away from the skin than cloth diapers. 
  • Some diaper brands, like Pampers, are specifically designed to help keep babies’ skin drier & healthier. Look for a diaper that has a liner with little holes, or a similar technology, to help pull wetness and mess into the diaper’s core and away from your baby’s skin.
  • Change diapers frequently, every 3 hours or more often.  

E – Education

  • Parents and caregivers should be educated about prevention and treatment of diaper rash.  
  • Products to avoid include those with baking soda, cornstarch or talc powders, boric acid, phenol, camphor and salicylates.  
  • Steroid creams should not be applied to areas affected by irritant diaper rash unless directed to do so by a physician for moderate to severe rash.

Eczema

Eczema is a skin condition that often presents as itchy, scaly skin or tiny red bumps that normally presents before the age of 5 years old and is often recurrent. The cause of eczema is not fully known but is thought to occur in people with allergies and for there to be a genetic component (runs in families). For management of eczema, I recommend the following:

  • Warm (not hot) baths to let your baby’s skin soak up fluid, and then make sure you pat dry the baby’s skin and not rub it so that moisture is still present on the surface of the skin after the bath
  • Gentle cleansers can be used only in areas that need cleaning and should be used at the end of the bath
  • Apply unscented thick moisturizer immediately after coming out of the bath and moisturize your baby 2-3 times per day if possible. I like to apply moisturizer first thing in the morning when we change out of jammies into daytime clothes, mid-day before a nap to help wind baby down for sleep, and right after bath time before bed.
  • Avoid things that can irritate the skin like strong detergents or certain fabrics like wool

Cradle Cap

Cradle cap appears as crusted patches of scaly skin on your baby’s scalp and may appear red or greasy. The exact cause of cradle cap isn’t fully known.  It is thought to be due to a combination of things, such as too much oil in the sweat glands and hair follicles and a type of yeast called Malassezia. Fortunately, most of the time it resolves spontaneously in weeks to months without any treatment. If you do want to start to treat the cradle cap here are some possibilities:

  • Apply an emollient (white petroleum, mineral oil, or baby oil) to the scalp to loosen the scales followed by removal of the scales with a soft brush. This worked for both of my kids.
  • Frequent shampooing with a non-medicated shampoo followed by removal of scales with a soft brush or fine toothed comb.  You might also consider an antifungal shampoo a couple times a week if non-medicated shampoos aren’t doing the trick, but I recommend seeing your physician first before starting a medicated shampoo.
  • In more severe cases, low dose steroid creams are considered

Hope you found this post useful for caring for your baby’s skin. If your child’s rash does not resolve, or your child appears unwell, please check in with your child’s doctor!

References

Klunk et al. (2014) An update on diaper dermatitis. Clin Dermatol. Jul-Aug 2014;32(4):477-87.

https://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/your-babys-skin

Sasseeville, S. Cradle cap and seborrheic dermatitis in infants and children. In: UpToDate, Post, R Corona (Ed), UpToDate, Waltham, MA, 2019.

Canadian Dermatology Association. Eczema. (https://dermatology.ca/public-patients/skin/eczema/)