Newborn Skin - Common Issues and Skincare in a Nutshell

Newborn Skin – Common Issues and Skincare in a Nutshell

Hi friends,

Today, I am writing in brief about newborn babies’ skin and how it is different from adult skin.

Skin is one of the largest organs in the human body with a lot of very important functions. It’s the primary barrier against all pathogens. But is the newborn skin as equipped as adult skin to combat all pathogens? Definitely not! Hence care of newborn skin is very important and is entirely different from that of an adult or even kids.

The discussion will be under these broad headings:

  • Difference between adult and newborn skin
  • Goals of skincare
  • Skincare and issues – bath, diaper use, and umbilicus care
  • Newborn skin is thinner than adults.
  • Functionally immature – more immature if gestation age is low as most maturation and fat deposition occurs in the last trimester of gestation.
  • Increased permeability.
  • Increased absorption.
  • Increased evaporation – increases risks of dehydration with water loss (insensible water loss).
  • Very fragile due to very thin dermis.
  • Decreased elasticity.


  • Minimal handling – newborn should not be handled by many (common problem with too many visitors). It increases the risk of infection.
  • Decrease water loss through the skin – prevents dehydration.
  • Avoid exposure to toxins.
  • Decrease exposure to unnecessary substances – most commonly seen is the application of large amounts of kajal (contains lead), powder, etc.
  • Promote normal skin development.


  • Apply emollients (vaseline, petroleum jelly, etc.) to decrease water loss and give temperature stability


  • Clean the umbilical cord during bathing.
  • Keep it dry.
  • Avoid applying herbal medications/turmeric powder.
  • Fold the diaper down so that it doesn’t come in contact with the cord.
  • Watch for pus discharge or redness around the umbilicus (signs of infection).


If vitals are stable, the weight is normal (>2.5kg), the temperature is normal, then within 2-4 hrs after birth:

  • Soap (mild/low alkaline)
  • Duration <5min
  • Lukewarm sterile water to be used
  • Immediately dry with a warm cloth.
  • First bath – After 6 hours for a term well baby weighing >2.5 kg (varies with the cleanliness and facilities of newborn care in institutions)
  • Term /small for date/preterm (<37week) to be given sponge bath till weight >2.5kg
  • Sanitize and dry hands before handling the newborns.


  • The diaper area is prone to infection because urine and faeces are alkalinising agents which alter the normal skin pH. Change in pH causes damage to the skin.
  • Avoid diaper usage as much as possible when indoor.
  • The skin should be dried and aired between napkin changes.
  • Observe for redness/rash in diaper areas.

I hope this article gives a brief about neonatal skin and common issues. Kindly provide your valuable opinion and reviews.

Happy Parenting!!!!

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