Many parents think there’s no miracle quite like a flawless, soft, mash mallow-like baby’s face. But Unlike adult skin, baby skin is more delicate than you might think. It undergoes a maturation process for several months after birth. The newborn baby’s different skin types can vary greatly. While it may exhibit a variety of baby skin conditions, there are only 5 main baby skin types that are common to babies of all ethnicities, Dry, Normal Dry, Normal, Normal Sensitive, and Sensitive Skin. If you are anxious about which skin condition your baby’s skin is, simply use the picture below or our baby skin quiz to find out.
Dry skin usually happens on a newborn baby. Newborn dry skin appears flaky, with rough patches that can appear anywhere on an infant. In some instances, cracks in the newborn flaky skin might develop. While it shouldn’t be worried too much, sometimes flaky newborn skin doesn’t go away and that is the situation you should seek for a pediatrician for flaky dry baby skin.
What to do
There are a few steps you can apply to the newborns with dry skin. Firstly, it is important to ensure the newborn dry skin stays moisturized and maintain the oil on the flaky newborn skin's surface to reduce the evaporation of water from the skin.
Secondly, it also helps to minimize wiping your sensitive skin baby with rough fabric; for example, by patting the baby's skin after a bath, or using materials and fabric that are soft on the skin for sensitive skin babies’ diaper changes.
Lastly, if newborn flaky skin is getting worse, you should seek a pediatrician for the professional advice on the newborns with baby's dry skin.
Normal Dry Skin
If the newborn’s skin appears just on a dry surface, sometimes you don’t have to worry your dry skin newborn too much. The top dry surface is like a skin barrier, and the infant dry skin underlying the lightly flaky part is moist and healthy.
What to do
Soft and supple, the skin doesn't show visible variations in color or texture.
What to do
The important point for normal skin care is to prevent the skin from getting dry and irritated. Here are some things you may prevent skin problem like from happening:
- Avoid exposure to irritants such as fragrance and dyes (especially in the first few months of newborn baby's life).
- Also, it would help to apply oil-based products during or after a bath, or during a diaper change to help retain moisture. The products such as organic sunflower oil, organic olive oil, or coconut oil are all good choices.
Normal Sensitive Skin
The babies with sensitive skin are feeling irritated. Often itchy, with visible red patches. Some babies have even worse skin conditions such as eczema. However, the sensitivity of the baby's skin evolves over time as the skin forms and matures.
What to do
- Avoid letting the child wearing the wet diaper for too long or putting the diaper too tight.
- Avoid exposing the infant skin to chemical irritants such as fabrics, and dyes, or physical stress such as rough fabrics like those used in wet wipes.
- As much as possible, try to dress your baby in soft clothes, with leave-on irritant-free products that act as a protective layer. Very sensitive skin will appreciate skin-to-skin contact, which will be soothing and relaxing.
Babies with sensitive skin can develop a variety of symptoms. There are different skin irritation types such as eczema, which is an itchy red rash that can appear on your baby’s face, and diaper rash, which is dermatitis that causes a patchwork of bright red skin around the diaper area. Sometime baby lotion or diaper rash cream might help to reduce symptoms.
What to do
If eczema or the diaper rash is getting worse, you should go to your baby’s pediatrician.
When to See a Doctor
While there are some conditions you can treat at home, sometimes the rash could be severe on several areas, e.g. baby butt, and you need to find a pediatrician to treat it. According to our Diaper Rash 101 article, have your sensitive skin babies examined if the rash:
Is severe or unusual
Gets worse despite home treatment
Bleeds, itches, or oozes
Causes burning or pain with urination or a bowel movement
Is accompanied by a fever
There are also several baby skin conditions that may develop, irrespective of different skin types. These are typically harmless, and part of the normal skin maturation and development process:
Milia are tiny, white, hard bumps that look like pimples on a newborn's nose. They may also appear on the chin and forehead. Milia form from oil glands and disappear on their own.This skin problem usually disappears within a few days or weeks and needs no treatment.
Stork bites or salmon patches
These are small pink or red patches often found on a baby's eyelids, between the eyes, upper lip, and back of the neck. They're caused by a concentration of immature blood vessels and may be the most visible when the baby is crying. Most of these fade and disappear completely by age 18 months. Salmon patches don’t require any type of treatment.
Mongolian spots are blue or purple-colored splotches on the baby's lower back and buttocks . Over 80 percent of African-American, Asian, and Indian babies have Mongolian spots, but occur in dark-skinned babies of all races. The spots are caused by a concentration of pigmented cells and usually disappear in the first four years of life.
Erythema toxicum is also called erythema toxicum neonatorum (ETN). It is a red rash on a newborn baby that's often described as "flea bites", common on the chest and back, but may be found all over. About half of all babies develop this condition in the first few days of life. Erythema toxicum isn't dangerous, doesn't require any treatment, and disappears by itself in a few days. The point of skin care is to avoid over-washing the baby’s skin.
Acne neonatorum (baby acne)
About one-fifth of newborns develop pimples in the first month. These usually appear on the cheeks and forehead. It's thought that maternal hormones cause these, and disappear within a few months. Don't try to break open as this can lead to infection.
The red bumpy area that looks like a strawberry. Hemangiomas are formed by a concentration of tiny, immature blood vessels. Most of these occur on the head. They may not appear at birth, but often develop in the first two months. More common in premature babies and in girls, these birthmarks often grow in size for several months, and then gradually begin to fade. Nearly all strawberry hemangiomas completely disappear by age 9.