Mommy Neeta Shah asks us about how to stop / prevent skin peeling in her 3 week old baby!
Infant skin is five times thinner than adult skin and doesn’t produce enough oil or melanin to adequately protect itself. In the moments after birth, newborns are often red, bluish, or even grayish and bruised from their rocky trip down the birth canal. During the first few weeks, your baby may have peeling or cracking of the skin, especially on the wrists, hands, ankles and feet. The flaky skin on newborns often puzzles first-time parents. This is because their own experience with dry, peeling or flaky skin is often due to exposure to harsh chemicals or cold, dry weather. Knowing the causes of an infant’s flaky skin and what to do about it will help soothe your concerns.
A newborn’s skin typically looks delicate and wrinkly. Parents may notice skin patches that are flaky and dry in appearance, particularly in areas like the ankles, wrists and other skin folds. One reason for the flaky appearance is due to the loss of the vernix caseosa. “Vernix” is the latin word for “varnish”. It is a flaky, waxy white coating that slightly resembles cheese. In utero, vernix protects the sensitive skin of the fetus from becoming waterlogged by amniotic fluid. After birth, the vernix helps balance the skin’s pH, protects newborns from becoming scaly or dehydrated, and is believed to have antibacterial properties. Vernix is a very healthy coating on the skin and not a symptom of dry or problem skin. After birth, much of the substance is washed away. Exposure to air after floating in amniotic fluid for nine months will also cause an infant’s delicate skin to flake. Remnants of the vernix slough off naturally during the first couple weeks of life, but because it looks funny, it is often removed immediately after birth.
When the vernix sloughs off during the first days after birth, it looks like dry, flaky skin. It generally takes about some weeks to go away. Although it concerns some parents so applying mild lotions or creams to smooth and moisturize the flaky skin is safe. A mild cleanser is safe, though many people recommend just plain water. These days, baby wipes, especially ones for sensitive skin, are so gentle that they’re generally safe. There are many baby oils available in market which can also be helpful. Coconut oil or Almond oil also have other nourishing factors than just moisturising your child’s skin.
During the first few weeks of life, a sponge bath a couple of times a week is all that is necessary to keep your infant’s skin clean and healthy. Water is effective at keeping the infant’s mouth and genitals clean in-between the baths. Once the flakiness disappears, your baby’s skin will stay smooth and healthy with the proper care. So, there is nothing to worry about the peeling skin of your new born.
With special thanks to our SOS Moms:
Shweta Virmani Sorout, Radhika Dhanrajani, Madhavi Karol Sood, Sudeshna Patnaik, Kiran Rituraj Panwar, Jayshree Banerjee, Swati Gupta, Saranya Satheesh, Bargavi Sriram , Christina Harijan, Juhi Bhattacharjee, Ekta Khanna, Nidhi Karan Garg, Divya Deepak, Sim Suthar Gaikwad, Buyyani Pratima Naveen, Ramya Venkitesh, Jennifer Mascarenhas, Akhila Garimella, Monika Arora, Anamika Sinha, Sapna Biswas, Aseeja Satheesh.