parents

What I didn't know about my baby's skin condition.

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My first baby, a perfect little boy, looked like an Elvis doll.

He had full black spiky hair and a chin dimple. His eyes were wide open and he was very chill. Thanks to his caesarean birth he didn’t have any physical signs of birth that I had seen in friend’s babies like forceps’ imprints in foreheads and stretched heads. But by the time he was five months old he’d lost all his hair and developed a number of skin conditions. So of course, we nicknamed him Itchy & Scratchy.

As a first time parent I was pretty startled that his movie star looks didn’t last very long. They came back, but not until I got a handle on all of his skin conditions that were at their worst at five months and continued to plague him until he was around two. Most babies will get one or two of these skin conditions, not all of them like my baby did, and many skin conditions will make their first appearances during the first few days after birth.

1. Eczema.

It was my first baby that had the most severe eczema out of all three of my children. I had no idea what it was so didn’t take him to the doctor until it was starting to bother him. Having never heard of it before I had done nothing to try and prevent it.

Now I know that if your child is prone to eczema you need to stop bathing them every day, make sure all of the products you use are fragrance and chemical-free, get rid of all wool products including clothing, blankets and toys, keep the skin moist and launder their clothes and bedding separately using sensitive laundry products for babies. My doctor talks about how to prevent eczema by avoiding all irritants and allergens and investing in products that are plant-based, non-toxic and friendly to your baby’s skin. In cases of persistent or severe eczema talk to your doctor about steroid treatments, nutritional supplements and other more focused treatments.

baby skin conditions
“Most babies will get one or two of these skin conditions.” Image via iStock.

2. Baby acne.

This is sometimes called “milk rash” but it really is just baby acne, caused by changing hormones after birth. According to the Mayo Clinic the most common places for baby acne to show up are the “cheeks, nose and forehead,” so the face. My first baby got it on his cheek. It was one really angry looking pimple that I was desperate to pop but didn’t dare because his skin was so incredibly delicate.

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I made sure to invest in some excellent, natural skin care products including bath oil and a soothing cream to ensure overall skin health. There’s nothing you can do to prevent or treat baby acne. You can only manage it with good skin care. It rarely leaves any scarring so just let it run its course.

3. Flaking skin.

When my baby’s skin started flaking it was quite alarming. One of the midwives at the hospital assured me that it was totally normal. “He’s just spent nine months in water, now his skin is adjusting to being out of water,” she explained. So I just kept up with the skin products I was using and waited for it to stop.

I looked into it a bit further and according to the Baby Centre newborns will shed three layers of skin during that time. Just leave it alone and don’t peel it but keep an eye on it. If any sores or infections appear consult your doctor.

baby skin conditions
“He’s just spent nine months in water, now his skin is adjusting to being out of water.” Image via iStock.

4. Cradle cap.

Many babies will get cradle cap right on the top of their heads and it will be thick and scaly. There’s not a lot you can do about it except to massage some oil into it and wait for it to heal and fall off. If it starts to get a bit smelly consult your baby’s doctor because it may be infected and remember don’t pick it off – let it fall off naturally.

According to Better Health Victoria cradle cap is a kind of dermatitis. Not all babies will get it. It usually occurs in the first three months and is sometimes yellowish. It’s totally normal and you only need to consult your doctor if it becomes smelly, like my baby’s cradle cap did, or if it spreads.

5. Heat rashes.

Babies have lots of places where heat rashes can take hold. All of those adorable rolls of fat on their legs and that spot under their chin on their neck is a common place too. If you have your baby during warm weather they’ll be more prone to them. I just had to make sure to clean the areas gently and to also make sure I dried them properly. It could be hard to get in there and dry them thoroughly so I had to make sure to take my time and do it properly.

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We came to rely on powder to treat them because it was important to keep the areas as dry as possible and they could become quite itchy and distressing. The powder we used was specifically for baby rashes so it worked really well. Pregnancy Birth Baby explains that these red, prickly rashes can occur as early as from a few days old and are more common in warm weather. It’s always a good idea to visit your baby’s doctor to ensure any rashes that occur are harmless and nothing more than heat rashes.

baby skin conditions
While the pool does keep kiddies cool, it’s not a full time fix. Image via iStock.

6. Nappy rash.

Two out of three of my babies were prone to nappy rash, especially when they pooed in their sleep and I didn’t realise they needed a new nappy until they woke up an hour later, when they got a bit sick and had loose stools or when they changed formulas or started eating new foods. The key to treating nappy rash is to catch it early.

After my first baby’s nappy rash became so bad that he developed weeping sores I learned that the best thing to do at the slightest redness was to give them some nappy-free time, use a good nappy rash powder that kept the area dry and changed his nappy more frequently until it healed. The Royal Children’s Hospital has some great ideas for preventing nappy rash such as using good disposable nappies that absorb as much wetness as possible, changing nappies often, cleaning during every nappy change and using a good barrier cream.

And just remember, your baby is always going to be the most beautiful little cherub on the earth – even if they are a little Itchy & Scratchy.

Has your child ever had skin irritability and what did you do about it?