Peeling Skin in Newborns – Why Does It Happen?
When a baby is born, a lot of changes happen in the baby’s body. These, at times, might manifest in the form of dry skin and skin being peeled off. Baby head skin peeling can occur at times and make parents terrified of what is happening. It, then, becomes extremely important to understand why this exactly happens and treat any serious factors if they might exist.
What Causes Baby Skin Peeling?
In most cases, following a few days after delivery or after you come back home, your newly born baby’s skin can start getting dry or flaky. This causes it to peel off from various parts and is usually quite normal.
When a baby is born, it is covered with a lot of fluids from the mother’s body. Amniotic fluid and vernix are some of them that cover the newborn. The vernix is extremely important since it protects the baby from the fluid. Usually, all these fluids are wiped off the baby’s body when you give birth to your baby. The vernix might stay on the baby’s body which then peels off later in the following weeks. Premature babies have a larger proportion of vernix, hence they peel off the lesser skin.
How Much Peeling Occurs Normally
The amount of skin peelings that occurs on the baby is dependent on when the baby was born. Babies that are overdue peel a lot more than normal or than premature babies since they have a lesser quantity of vernix on them. This usually results in baby skin peeling off fingers and toes in large amounts.
Other Serious Factors That Can Cause Infant Skin Peeling
Most peeling is quite usual in newborns. However, certain types of skin peelings can be indicative of a serious disease or condition that needs to be addressed quickly. Here are a few factors that might be responsible for skin peeling.
Eczema is a well-known skin problem. Called as atopic dermatitis, this condition results in itchy red portions on various areas of the baby’s body. These are dry and usually occur on the baby’s cheeks, legs and arms, around the neck, or any areas of the body where the skin usually folds.
Eczema is not a disease but a kind of genetic condition. It is the body’s immune response to environmental conditions. Presence of any dust mites in the house, infections caused by viruses, heat, vaccinations, or even a change in soaps, lotions, detergents, could affect the skin and cause the reaction to happen.
How to Treat
If your child shows symptoms of eczema, talk to your doctor who would be able to diagnose it immediately and prescribe any medication as necessary.
There are easy home remedies one can make use of to provide the baby with some quick relief. Bathing the baby with lukewarm water and using a mild soap or a mild bathing gel can be beneficial. Avoid rubbing your baby with a towel but pat instead to dry it out.
In case eczema starts flaring up, make use of a moisturizer to keep the skin from being dry. At times, applying breast milk to eczema ridden area is known to work too. For flares present on the baby’s cheeks, make sure they are cleaned using a cotton ball after each round of feeding.
If the flares continue or worsen, the doctor may recommend using a steroid cream to be applied on the skin.
2. Cradle Cap
The medical term for this skin condition is termed as ‘seborrhoeic dermatitis’. This is where the skin starts peeling from the armpits, eyebrows, neck and groin, but most prominently from the scalp of the baby.
Cradle cap is a condition that primarily takes place when the fungus or yeast present on the skin starts growing uncontrollably. In other cases, while the baby is inside the mother, various maternal hormones can stimulate this condition and cause it to happen.
When this condition starts manifesting in the form of red coloured patches and scales on the skin, many doctors treat it as an onset of eczema.
How to Treat
In most scenarios, most cradle cap conditions go away by themselves in a couple of months without any treatment or medication. The same can eased by taking care of a few things. When bathing your baby, wash the hair and the scalp properly with shampoo. Pat it dry and use a light brush to loosen out any skin flakes that might be present.
Olive oil is known to be quite beneficial in this regard. By taking some of it in your hand, and rubbing it on the scalp of the baby, this aids in loosening the dry skin flakes and can be easily removed during a bath. Alternatively, extra virgin coconut oil can be used for the same effect.
Certain mothers recommend applying breastmilk on the baby’s head and then brushing it away with the scalp once it dries.
If the scalp does not go away even after these methods, contact your doctor for a solution.
Ichthyosis is a skin condition that is usually caused due to genetic problems. These usually result in a lot of itchy and scaly skin, which sheds rapidly. In order to diagnose this condition successfully, doctors may require a sample of skin or even carry out certain blood tests to ascertain the presence of this condition. The medical history of your family might play a vital role in helping the diagnosis.
How to Treat
Unfortunately, ichthyosis hasn’t been able to be cured as of yet. The only action that can be taken is to mitigate the problems and bring some relief from it.
Babies suffering from ichthyosis should bathe only in plain water, with very less amount of mild soaps or cleansers. This has to then be accompanied by repetitive and abundant amounts of soft and bland moisturizers. Any petroleum-based products can be extremely useful in this regard.
When in doubt, your doctor should be your first point of contact in combating this situation or before choosing to apply any ointment or cream that you think might provide your baby relief from it.
Managing Newborn Peeling Skin
If your baby’s skin peels a lot, here are some ways to manage it.
1. Making Use of Moisturisers
Whenever skin peeling occurs, it tends to get dry and scaly to form dry skin flakes. Hence, it is important to keep the skin moisturised to prevent any inflammation or irritation. For newborns, it is important to use a moisturiser that is gentle and hypoallergenic. Such moisturisers should be applied twice a day on the baby’s body. While applying the moisturiser, it is beneficial to massage the skin of your baby in a gentle manner. This removes any dry skin and helps the moisture reach the depths. Your doctor will tell you which brand of moisturiser is the best fit for your child.
2. Hydrating the Baby Frequently
Peeling skin takes away a lot of moisture from the body. Keeping the water levels constant in the body is absolutely necessary. The routine that has been established for breastfeeding or formula-based bottle feeding should be followed strictly and any skips should be avoided. This feeding and hydration help rebuild moisture back into the skin.
In case your baby is younger than six months, then giving your baby water is not advised. Feeding water at an early age can be harmful to its health. In such a case, sticking to the breastfeeding schedule is your best bet.
3. Keep Baths Short and Warm
Although it is important to maintain moisture in the skin, the bathing times for the baby should be short. Having daily baths is absolutely necessary to get rid of the peeling skin, but keeping your baby wet for a long time can remove the natural oils that are present in the skin. This can further make the skin drier than usual, adding to the problems.
Keeping a short 5-10 minute bath is good. Make use of warm water and a mild soap without any aromas or fragrance. Use a soft cloth to gently wipe the skin instead of rubbing it. The traditional soaps and bathing gels could irritate the skin further.
4. Make Use of Chemical-free Products
Be it soaps or even detergents, any chemicals present in lotions or moisturisers can react with the delicate dry skin, and make the newborn face peeling even worse than before. There are certain soaps and detergents available in the market that are baby-friendly. Opt for those since they usually don’t have the typical harsh chemicals.
5. Install a Humidifier
Depending on where you stay, the air around could be dry and may not be right for the baby. Furthermore, the constant use of an air-conditioner robs a room of its natural humidity and makes the air dry. This dry atmosphere reduces any absorption of moisture in the baby’s skin and aggravates the peeling. For babies suffering from eczema, this is extremely bad.
By installing a humidifier in the baby’s room, the humidity in the room can return back to a normal value. This allows the skin to absorb moisture from the air and prevent it from being excessively dry.
Seeing your newborn dry skin peeling can be quite scary and the entire condition in itself is quite irritating and disturbing for the baby, too. Although the initial days of the baby are accompanied by the natural peeling process of the skin, anything beyond that or combined with itchy patches could signify serious conditions. Your doctor can help diagnose these quickly and take the necessary treatments ahead. On a general note, maintaining a humid atmosphere and ensure proper skin moisturization and body hydration keeps the skin healthy and brings some much-needed relief from the peeling.
Also Read: Home Remedies and Tips for Baby Skin Care