Baby skin

A newborn baby has perfect skin. It is soft, silky smooth and sweet smelling and free from lines and blemishes. This changes as time passes as the skin is exposed to the elements, pollution and the ageing process: but enjoy your baby’s skin whilst it is this perfect.

How does a baby’s skin differ to adult skin?

Baby skin is thinner, less oily and more delicate than adult skin. It also contains less melanin than adult skin which means that it is more likely to develop sunburn. Babies are less efficient at sweating and regulating their body temperature.

Examples of this include the fact that babies are prone to developing a temperature or becoming cold very quickly. They find it harder to maintain their core temperature compared to an adult. We as adults are far better at doing this plus our thicker, oilier skins have a better resistance to the environment, bacteria and other external elements.

At birth

A newborn baby’s skin can be blotchy or discoloured (i.e. bright pink or red) although this soon disappears. The hands and feet will have a bluish tinge which is due to an undeveloped circulation system although this will change to a healthy pink.

Indian, African and Asian babies are often born with small blue-black spots on their lower back which are called ‘Mongolian spots’. These tend to disappear in the first year of life. Newborn babies often have a small cluster of white spots around the nose and chin called ‘milia’. These are not painful or contagious and usually clear up after a few weeks.

Milia are discussed further in this guide.

Your baby may be born with a birthmark or develops one in the first few weeks after birth. They don’t usually cause any problems and most disappear in the first year. But there are a few which remain which will require treatment.

Birthmarks are discussed further in this guide.

Baby acne is another common rash which develops at birth. This is caused by the presence of the mother’s hormones in the baby which were before birth.

This rash develops as a series of blackheads and whiteheads on the scalp, forehead, nose and cheeks.

Baby acne is discussed further in this guide.

At birth and for a few weeks afterwards, your baby’s skin will retain hormones, e.g. oestrogen, which was passed from you via the placenta.

These hormones can cause a few minor skin rashes although these usually clear up quickly. Examples of these include cradle cap and baby acne.

The first few months

Most of the time babies have soft, smooth skin but there are occasions when they will develop spots, bumps or blotches on their skin.

These occur for a variety of reasons -hormones being one of them. Other causes include illness, environmental factor, e.g. heat and genetic factors.

A few have no obvious cause and develop for no apparent reason.

Babies are prone to all types of illnesses which include skin rashes. Most of these are minor and usually clear up by themselves. However, a few of these will require treatment.

But how can you tell if a rash is nothing to worry about or needs to be seen by your GP?

The types of baby skin rashes section will help you to understand more about the various types of rashes and whether they require treatment or not.

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