Rough baby skin – what can be done?
Adult skin care routines try to recreate the feel of baby skin as it is synonymous with a flawless skin which feels soft and delicate.
Which is why it is all the more surprising for parents when their child's skin is rough, chapped or even scaly. At first glance, these symptoms may be a reason for concern, yet in most cases the causes are harmless.
Does your baby have rough areas of skin?
Whilst a baby's rough skin might not initially be visible it can certainly be felt. When washing, playing or changing your child's nappy you suddenly realise that his or her skin feels rough to the touch. You now are sensitised to this issue and subsequently note other skin problems. Red, rough patches of skin can have many causes which you should get to the bottom of. From a minor skin irritation to an allergy or skin disorder there are many reasons why babies' and children's skin become rough.
Why does baby skin become rough?
The skin of babies and young children is very sensitive. This is due to its unique structure: It has the same layers as adult skin, yet each individual layer is still very thin. Overall, adult skin is five times thicker than that of children.
Children's skin tends to lose moisture quickly. The cells of the outer layer, the epidermis, are not very close together making the skin susceptible to irritation and drying out. The skin's natural acid mantle and the hydrolipid film, which are designed to protect the skin from external influences, are not yet fully developed. These become fully formed over the course of early childhood.
Rough baby skin due to the cold
If your baby's facial skin becomes rough, this is often due to the weather. The cold winter air dries out your baby's skin. The other extreme, a warm and heated room, can also cause irritation and dry out a baby's skin.
Rough facial skin can be prevented by protecting your child's face with a rich moisturising cream. The high lipid content of the cream acts like a barrier against the cold and stops moisture from being lost.
Rough skin in summer
The sun and heat can also rock the equilibrium of babies' and children's delicate skin. Whilst many adults love to top up their tans in bikinis and shorts, children need to be well protected. You should note the following measures so you can enjoy the summer months stress free.
- Do not expose babies under 12 months directly to the sun!
- Even older children should avoid the midday sun. As far as possible ensure that your child remains in the shade and wears a protective head covering.
- Use a sunscreen with a high sun protection factor and reapply every two hours at least.
- Dress your child so that as much skin as possible is covered by clothing.
- Of course, you shouldn't cause your child to sweat. Opt for airy, loose fitting clothing.
Rough skin from mechanical influences
If you discover dry rough patches on your baby's skin, the cause is often due to day-to-day life. Due to its structure, the sensitive skin of babies and children becomes more quickly irritated than that of adults. Mechanical irritations such as friction and scratching should therefore be avoided:
- avoid rubbing your child with a towel after bathing and instead, gently pat his or her wet skin dry.
- Wipe your baby's nappy area clean with a moist, soft towel.
- Remove the labels from clothing if these scratch your child's skin.
- Do not dress your child in woolen clothing and instead opt for items made of soft cotton or viscose.
- Make sure that your child's clothes are not too tight and are loose enough to allow them to move freely.
Rough skin due to illness
Rough patches on baby's skin can result from external environmental factors. Yet they could also be the early symptoms of a skin disorder.
In the first few months of life, many babies have a rough scalp. Oily, yellow- or brown-coloured dandruff forms. This is known as cradle cap. The symptoms may appear worse than they actually are for the baby. The child experiences neither pain nor does he or she suffer from itching. As a rule, cradle cap disappears by itself within the first year.
Milk crust looks slightly different. Here, the baby's cheeks become rough and reddened and scaly, itchy eczema forms. Milk crust is often confused with cradle cap, yet the two can be easily distinguished based on the different scaling. The scaling associated with milk crust is not oily but can weep. It may also be indicated if your child continuously scratches the area.
Many children who suffer from milk crust go on to develop allergies or neurodermatitis in later childhood. This is particularly true if the parents are also prone to allergies. For this reason, you should consult a doctor if your child shows signs of milk crust. If areas of rough skin are, in fact, a symptom of a subsequent illness, early treatment can prove highly effective.
Rough facial skin as an allergy symptom
Very occasionally, rough baby facial skin can indicate an allergic reaction. Avoid using products with artificial fragrances on your child's skin as these can often trigger allergies.
Check the washing detergent and softener used to clean your baby's clothing. If necessary switch to products without added fragrances and other allergens.
Food intolerances can also lead to skin problems. If you suspect that your child reacts to certain foodstuffs or ingredients, talk to your paediatrician. A test can quickly clarify whether your child suffers from allergies or intolerances.
Rough baby skin due to dryness
The nature of baby skin means that it is prone to drying out quickly and becoming brittle and rough. You can prevent this by using a light yet replenishing skin cream on your child daily. We recommend lotions containing premium ingredients such as bisabolol or linoleic acid from safflower oil.
Rough skin? Don't panic!
It is important that you don't get upset at the unexpected condition of your child's skin. After all, in many cases the skin improves by itself. Nevertheless, you can help to ensure that your child's skin returns to its delicate and soft condition by using gentle yet intensive care products.
The right care for rough skin
- Do not bathe your baby too frequently. If your child is not dirty, weekly cleansing is sufficient. Read here on how to bathe your child properly.
- Shower your child occasionally instead of always bathing. This is kinder to the skin.
- Use a mild shower gel which is specially tailored to the needs of sensitive baby skin.
- Always apply cream after washing your child. Use a replenishing lotion and apply this regularly but in thin layers. You can find more information on the how to moisturise properly here.
- Make sure that the care products you use on your child are safe and do not contain silicones, mineral oils or microplastics.
- They should also not contain perfumes as these can trigger allergic reactions in sensitive children.
- If your child is prone to dry, itchy skin, also apply cream before going to bed.
- In the winter months use an oily cream in order to protect the facial skin from drying out.
- In summer use sunscreen with a high sun protection factor.