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Your baby's skin is thinner, more fragile and less oily than an adult's. It also produces less melanin, the substance that helps ward off sunburn. It is less resistant to bacteria and harmful substances in the environment, especially if it is irritated. Babies also sweat less efficiently than the rest of us, so it is harder for them to maintain their inner body temperature. On the other hand, most babies are less likely to react to allergens.
In the first few weeks after birth, your baby will retain some of your hormones. As a result, several minor skin conditions can result which will usually disappear fairly quickly. In addition, there are a few other skin conditions that are common during childhood which are normal and, most often, easily managed:
- Heat rash: Small pink pimples, often across the body. This condition results from high heat and humidity and undeveloped sweat glands. Do not overdress baby or overheat room, keep clothing loose and cleanse and dry skin thoroughly.
- Infant acne: Pink spots on the face. When infants are born, they still retain their mother's hormones for a short time and, as a result, infant acne can occur. This usually goes away on its own in the first few weeks. If not, talk to your health care professional.
- Cradle cap: Crusty patches on scalp. Overactive glands in your baby's scalp can cause cradle cap. Wipe gently with baby oil, leave on a few minutes, shampoo with baby shampoo, then use baby brush or comb
- Chafing: When there is friction between baby's clothing and skin, or where areas of skin rub together, chafing can result. Remove or minimize anything that is tight or rubs against the skin, like rubber pants or straps. Cleanse, rinse and dry skin thoroughly, then apply cornstarch baby powder, lotion or cream
- Eczema: Red, irritating, scaly skin. Atopic dermatitis or eczema is a genetically determined common skin condition. Clean and dry skin thoroughly. Talk to your pediatrician or health care professional; you may want to try sensitive-skin products especially designed for babies.
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