5 things to keep in mind when buying products for the extra delicate skin of your baby

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Make sure that the products you buy do not cause allergic reactions or irritate your baby’s skin.

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Even before the arrival of the baby, parents can prepare to buy skin care products for their little ones. You may want to buy products that are specific for the delicate skin of your baby. So make sure that the products you buy do not cause allergic reactions or irritate your baby’s skin.

The immaturity of your newborn baby's skin makes it prone to a number of skin problems such as atopic eczema, infant candidiasis, cradle cap, baby acne and napkin dermatitis.These skin conditions are temporary and can be easily managed through simple medical measures or by taking extra care while buying baby products.

Here are a few things parents must check while buying skin care products for their child’s extra delicate skin:

  • Is the product pH balanced?
  • Can it moisturise your baby’s skin?
  • Is the product perfumed/fragrance free?
  • Are there hypo-allergic substances in the product?
  • Does the product have essential supplements?

1. pH balanced

It is a known fact that skin acts as a barrier for any kind of infection or allergen attack. This in turn maintains the integrity and pH of the skin by avoiding any damage. A newborn baby’s skin has a pH of around 6.4. This slowly reduces to around 4.9 in the later stages, which is usually within the next four days.

This protective "acid" mantle protects against harmful pathogens. Research states that stratum corneum of infants (barrier function of skin) becomes similar to that of the adults only after a year’s time.2 Generally baby soaps are suited for cleansing of the baby’s skin. This is okay in case of babies with healthy skin. But, babies having skin problems like atopic dermatitis or eczema cannot endure harsh soaps and detergents that have a high pH.

baby skin

The reason behind this is that these babies already have a high skin pH and any further use of alkaline products may activate the skin hormone proteases that are active at high pH. Also, protease activity results in the further breakdown of your baby’s skin causing dryness and atopic flare ups.3,4,5 

This the why the following things should be kept in mind:

  • Alkaline soaps and baby care products must be avoided to prevent any disturbance to the acid mantle, especially for extra delicate skin. So make sure to use pH balanced products.
  • Gentle cleansers (of neutral or acidic pH called syndets) and shampoos are recommended.
  • Parents must buy products that do not interfere with their baby’s skin surface pH or disturb the skin barrier.
  • When you buy cleansers, make sure to buy products that have the right type of surfactant, be chemically and physically stable and should contain an emollient.
  • Liquid and mild cleansers are now available that clean the dirt and harmful substances like faecal enzymes from your baby’s skin without damaging it. 7 

2. Moisturiser

Moisturising your baby’s dry and flaky skin is very important. There are two important types of emollients (moisturisers): oil in water emulsion (cream) or water in oil emulsion (ointment). In summers, it is recommended to buy creams instead of ointments if it is hot and humid. So using an ointment can further damage your baby’s skin by causing prickly heat rashes as ointments would be occlusive in the hot Indian weather.

Here are a few things to keep in mind before buying a moisturiser for your baby:

  • While buying a moisturiser for your baby check for the amount of water and oil in the product. If your baby has eczema or atopic dermatitis, see to it that the cream or lotion that you buy has more oil compared to water.
  • Products containing ceramides are recommended which will help your baby's skin retain its natural moisture.9 It is suggested that emollients must be used, to avoid conditions of atopic dermatitis.7
  • An emollient decreases neonatal peeling and dermatitis, maintains barrier function, reduces irritation in the diaper area and also helps massage.

Continue reading on the next page to read about other tips!

3. Fragrance-free, alcohol-free and antiperspirants

Parents are recommended to not buy antiperspirants, deodorants and perfumed products. Many creams, lotions, sprays and pads are available that are antiperspirant in nature. These products have aluminium salts that can block the sweat ducts preventing the release of sweat. Normal and regular soap water cleansing works fine to get rid of odour caused due to mucus production, sebum release and perspiration. 10

Many babies, especially the ones with sensitive skin are allergic to fragrant products, be it soaps, lotions or creams. Thus, when it comes to products for extra-delicate skin, hypoallergenic fragrance- in products are highly recommended. This is to avoid the irritation that may be caused due to the perfumed component of any fragrant product.

However, fragrance stimulate the sense of smell & help the baby to stay relax & fresh. It is also recommended to use alcohol-free products for babies with eczema or atopic dermatitis. It is best to not use alcohol diapers wet wipes when your baby has diaper rashes. They can be too harsh for your baby’s skin and may cause a burning sensation.

Most of the sanitisers generally have a high alcohol content that helps their rapid evaporation. This can give your baby a stinging sensation if he/she suffers from skin rashes. Thus, it is better to use creams, lotions and ointments that are free from alcohol and will help your baby’s skin heal faster. 10

4. Check for the essential ingredients

  • Choose products that are dermatologically proven to be safe and mild. Make sure that the products have essential supplements that can improve your baby’s skin.
  • Baby lotions containing milk proteins and vitamins that bless the baby with a soft, smooth and healthy skin should be used. Baby products containing vitamin E are beneficial.12
  • Buy a mild massage oil which is stable, contamination proof. Preservatives are important to keep the product stable in humid condition & avoid microbial growth.
  • Glycerin is needed in lotions and soaps as it reduces water loss and moisturises the skin. It makes the skin softer and smoother.14
  • Virgin olive oil can contain high content of oleic acid which can increase the permeability of the skin and may cause irritation.

Also Read: Follow these 6 simple steps to protect your baby's sensitive skin

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1.Atherton D, Mills K: What can be done to keep babies skin healthy?. RCM Midwives Journal. 2004, 7 (7): 288-90
2.Nikolovski J, Stamatas GN, Kollias N, Wiegand BC: Barrier function and water-holding and transport properties of infant stratum corneum are different from adult and continue to develop through the first year of life. J Invest Dermatol. 2008, 128: 1728-36. 10.1038/sj.jid.5701239
3.Hachem Hachem JP, Crumine D, Fluhr J, Brown BE, Feingold KR, Elias PM, et al: pH directly regulates epidermal permeability barrier homeostasis, and stratum corneum integrity/cohesion. J Invest Dermatol. 2003, 121: 345-353. 10.1046/j.1523-1747.2003.12365.x. 2003
4. Hachem JP, Man MQ, Crumrine D, Uchida Y, Brown BE, Rogiers V: Sustained serine proteases activity by prolonged increase in pH leads to degradation of lipid processing enzymes and profound alterations of barrier function and stratum corneum integrity. J Invest Dermatol. 2005, 125: 510-520. 10.1111/j.0022-202X.2005.23838.x.
5.Tina L, Carol B, Ediri O'B, Michael J C, Mark T and Anna H. Infant skin-cleansing product versus water: A pilot randomized, assessor-blinded controlled trial. BMC Pediatrics.2011,11:35.doi:10.1186/1471-2431-11-35. url: bmcpediatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2431-11-35.
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10. Larkowski LE, Tierney NK, Horowitz P. Tolerance of skin care regimen in healthy, full-term neonates. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23761977. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2013 May 29; 6:137-44.doi: 10.2147/CCID.S42559
11. Lasley B and Marc C. Chapter 4: introduction to aromatherapy. Herbs and natural suppliments. Edn 4th.Elsevier. Volume 1:49-51. url:books.google.co.in/books id=xVqmBgAAQBAJ&pg=PA49&dq=essential+supplements+in+baby+lotions+and+creams&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj_0P6XzbjOAhVFso8KHfeUBcIQ6AEIMzAA#v=onepage&q=essential%20supplements%20in%20baby%20lotions%20and%20creams&f=false
12. Essential oil for baby. Keeper of the home website. www.keeperofthehome.org/2012/02/essential-oils-for-baby.html. Accessed 10 August, 2016.
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