The skin is the body’s largest organ. It plays many important roles such as regulating body temperature and storing nutrients like lipids, water and electrolytes. Most importantly, the skin acts as the immune system’s first line of defense against chemicals. At the same time, skin is vulnerable to damage and to a variety of conditions from birth to adulthood.
What are the most common skin conditions among babies and children? A comprehensive guide:
As the body’s outermost barrier, the skin is almost constantly exposed to irritation. This can cause a variety of symptoms including rashes. Rashes are common in babies and can stem from several factors, including allergies caused by baby’s first-time exposure to environmental pollutants, sensitivity to a particular material, or a reaction to contaminants and perspiration, among other causes. These rashes can be limited to one area of the body, or they can affect larger areas of the skin. They are usually accompanied by itchiness, fever, localized pain, dry skin, chapped skin, blisters and swelling.
Keep your baby’s skin dry, avoid perspiration, and practice good skin hygiene. Choose personal care products that have been tested and were found to be suitable for sensitive skin, and that offer maximum protection of balanced skin moisture to prevent further irritation. Avoid using soap; replace soap with cleansing mousse or medicinal plant-based bath oil. Dress your baby according to weather conditions; do not dress him too warmly.
Diaper rash is one of the most common skin conditions in babies from the time they are born until they are potty-trained. Areas most commonly affected include the genital area, the bottom, the lower abdominal area and the thighs. Diaper rash has a red, burn-like appearance. It can sometimes develop into a fungal infection that worsens with existing inflammation. There are several reasons for diaper rash including alcohol-based fragrances used in diapers or chemicals used in wipes, harmful ingredients in laundry detergent, or physiological processes like teething, which can cause stool to be more acidic.
Begin treatment as soon as symptoms appear in order to prevent the rash from developing into a more severe inflammation. Treat immediately with diaper ointment that provides a barrier between the skin and external factors (like diapers). Change diapers frequently, and wash the affected area with lukewarm water and a bit of soap/oil/cleansing mousse specially formulated for sensitive, delicate skin. Dry well and apply therapeutic ointment. Be sure to use gentle wipes suitable for sensitive skin, and ventilate the skin as much as possible. For babies with sensitive skin, apply diaper ointment with every diaper change.
Dry skin mostly occurs because babies’ and small children’s skin is thin and delicate, making it more vulnerable to environmental damages, especially to dry climates, cold weather, and seasonal changes. Symptoms of dry skin include redness, irritation, itchiness, chapped skin, peeling skin, or white scaly skin.
Treatment of dry skin is mostly preventative. Use cream with a balanced pH level formulated for delicate, sensitive skin to moisturize and nourish dry, irritated skin. Avoid soaps that dry the skin and that contain mineral oils.
Atopic dermatitis, also called skin asthma or eczema, is a common skin condition that affects babies and children. It is characterized by dry skin and redness that lead to chronic itchiness, which can significantly impair quality of life. The condition has become more prevalent in recent years. In Israel, 350,000 people suffer from the condition, about 90% of whom are babies and children; half of these children are under age five. About 80% of children recover by the time they reach adulthood.
The most effective treatment is the use of specially formulated products that alleviate, nourish and moisturize the skin. Use a cleansing mousse or bath oil made with plant-based oils like coconut oil or olive oil to relieve sensitive skin. Avoid products that contain mineral oil. Follow with therapeutic face cream and body lotion.
Cradle cap is a common condition that affects over a third of babies. It usually appears at around three months of age and passes by baby’s first birthday. Dandruff, also known as seborrheic dermatitis, is marked by scaly skin on baby’s scalp. There are two main causes of cradle cap: 1) Babies carry hormones in their bloodstream that they inherit from their mother during pregnancy. These hormones cause an excess production of sebum (epidermal lipids), promoting the adhesion of dead skin cells to the scalp. These cells solidify and cause flaky skin; 2) Skin fungal infection.
Apply specially formulated, paraffin-free bath oil to the section of the scalp affected by cradle cap about ten minutes before bathing. Wet the hands and gently massage into the skin with your fingertips. Rinse well with water and gently dry with a soft towel. Apply specially formulated face cream to sensitive, delicate skin. Do not try to remove scales as this can damage the scalp or pull out hair. Choose bath products that are suitable for baby’s skin. Skincare products not formulated for baby’s skin can cause excess dryness, which could aggravate the condition.