Gentle and proper care of baby skin
"As soft as a baby's bottom" – that is a commonly used comparison. And it's true, your baby's skin is extremely delicate, which is why it is also so sensitive. Whilst in the womb your child was protected from external influences, yet after birth the skin has to learn how to cope with the cold, pressure and friction. This process can take some time. When dressing, applying cream and washing, you should therefore treat your baby's skin with care.
What is the structure of your baby's skin?
Just as with adults, baby skin is made up of three layers:
- The outermost layer is called the epidermis. It is paper-thin and only slightly thicker on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. To ensure that this skin layer remains elastic, it has to be supplied with moisture.
- The dermis is located below this layer. It is the thickest layer of skin and reliably protects the body from external influences such as pressure and fluctuations in temperature.
- The subcutis serves to protect the deeper layers of the body. It contains the connective tissue filled with adipose cells. This is where the nerve endings are also located which, for example, react to touch.
What distinguishes children's skin from that of adults?
Each layer of adult skin is considerably thicker than that of a baby – overall, their skin is around five time thicker than that of newborns. In terms of design and structure, too, their skin is different to children's. The thinner baby skin reacts significantly more sensitively to stimuli such as pressure and friction and is also more experience gentle touches more intensively.
The horny layer of the epidermis of baby skin is 30% thinner and, in the early stages of life, does not form melamine which is the skin's natural way of protecting itself from the sun. This all occurs in the first years of life.
Why is baby skin so sensitive?
All these differences which make your child's skin so soft and special could also be reasons why it is susceptible to dryness and irritation. A baby's thin epidermis, for example, is designed to absorb moisture quickly. Yet, by the same measure, this moisture can be lost just as quickly. That's why, it needs regular care and protection.
As your child's sebaceous glands are still inactive, the skin is lacking its protective acid mantle which still has to develop. The consequence: Baby skin is more sensitive to germs and more susceptible to infections and rashes. This often results in a sore bottom and nappy area (also referred to as nappy rash).
Find out more about the gentle care for sensitive baby skin.
What skin problems can occur with babies?
As well as the problem of a sore bottom outlined above, the skin can react to irritations with various symptoms:
Cradle cap is the most common skin problem for babies; in most cases it is limited to the scalp area, but can also occur on the rest of the upper body. The skin is then red and covered with a flaky layer. Neither you nor your child should scratch at these flakes! In the worst case scenario, this can result in bloody wounds which can become infected or cause scarring. Instead, use a rich, replenishing product and apply the cream gently to the affected areas. The regular application of cream is also advised in order to make the flakes softer.
Your little one can suffer from atopic eczema or neurodermitis from a young age. Many of the children affected suffer as infants. Neurodermitis is an inflammatory skin disease associated with redness, rash and painful pruritus. In the case of many children neurodermatitis disappears over time and some, instead, develop allergy symptoms such as asthma. If your child suffers from neurodermatitis, you should consult your paediatrician; in addition to the treatment, the daily application of cream serves to relieve the symptoms of dry and itchy skin.
Find out more information on neurodermitis and atopic eczema.
The risk of neurodermatitis is greater for the newest member of your family if the baby's parents or siblings also suffer from allergies. In such cases talk to your paediatrician about preventative measures.
What baby care products are available?
If you have already looked for baby and child care products in the shops, then you will know that the shelves are packed full with a whole range of products. In addition to baby powder and gentle shampoos, the most well-known products include shower and bath additives for children and sore and nappy creams for protecting sensitive and stressed skin areas.
What child care products do you need?
Do not allow yourself to be unsettled by the large range of articles. It goes without saying that you want to give your child the very best and use the care products which are essential for your baby. However, you can rest assured that a baby with healthy skin does not require a cupboard full of special skin products. A selection of the most important products to cover all needs is absolutely sufficient.
- You should always keep high-quality nappy cream in your home to prevent and quickly treat nappy rash. It forms a protective layer on the skin, safeguarding it from irritation caused by nappy friction, faeces and urine.
- Since baby skin can dry out rapidly, the regular application of a light lotion which is tailored to your little one's skin is recommended.
- If your children returns mucky from playing in the sandpit, a particularly gentle bath or shower gel designed specially for children should be used which won't attack his delicate skin.
What product is the right one for my baby?
Special care is all the more important if your child tends to suffer from problematic or dry skin. Yet take a closer look before purchasing: Many products contain substances which are not necessary or which could even harm your baby's skin in the long term.
That's why it is essential you choose a product which does not contain mineral oils or petroleum jelly. Silicones and microplastics have no place in baby care products. These components which are used in many products cause the skin to initially feel softer and smoother following application, yet they form a film on the skin so it can no longer breathe and can exacerbate existing skin problems.
As good as many products for children may smell:(artificial) fragrances can cause allergies in sensitive children.For this reason, opt for perfume-free alternatives.
What should I bear in mind when bathing my baby?
You don't have to bathe your baby every day. How often you wash your child depends first and foremost on your little one. If he loves to splash around in warm water, there is no reason not to bathe him regularly. Yet, if he is a little more apprehensive in water, simply use a cloth or sponge soaked in warm water to wash him. Make sure not to scrub but rather gently wipe your baby's sensitive skin. A quick "catlick" is normally sufficient, but don't forget to wash the neck line, bottom and groin area as these tend to become sore due to friction. You will find more information on bathing your baby or child in our article.
Replenishing skin care after bathing serves to provide the skin with the moisture it urgently needs.