In this section
Babies' skin is thinner, more fragile and more sensitive than
adults' skin. It is also less resistant to bacteria and harmful
substances in the environment, so can be easily irritated.
You can take the following steps to help look after and protect
your baby's skin to avoid skin problems in the future.
Bath your baby in warm water every day. A capful of fragrance-free
bath oil containing light liquid paraffin may be added. Do not use
soap, as this will dry out the skin. Use a mild, gentle non-soap
cleanser if required. These products are very effective in
cleansing your baby's skin and are available from your pharmacy.
Avoid bubble bath as it removes natural oils from the skin.
Avoid antibacterial and perfumed soaps as they may irritate the
Use a good quality moisturiser (purchased from a pharmacy) such as
sorbolene, aqueous cream or paraffin immediately after the bath to
increase skin hydration. Thicker creams and ointments are more
effective than lotions. If your baby's skin usually seems dry, a
moisturiser may need to be applied two to four times a
The nappy area is exposed to constant moisture, wrapping and
rubbing, which may irritate and damage the skin and cause nappy
rash. To prevent this, change your baby's nappy frequently:
The newborn cord should be kept clean and dry. Clean the area using
plain water and cotton buds. There is no need to use antiseptic or
alcohol wipes as this will prolong the separation of the cord. The
cord will usually separate in seven to ten days. If the area around
the cord is inflamed or has an offensive smell, see your
Light, loose clothing made of cotton is best. Woolen clothing over
the top of cotton clothing is okay, but should not be in direct
contact with your baby's skin as it may make it itchy. Avoid
doonas and padded sleeping bags as they may overheat your
When outdoors, light clothing, hats, sunshades on prams and shade
is the best protection against harmful UV. When necessary, a broad spectrum
sunscreen of SPF 30 should be applied to exposed areas of skin.
Most young babies' hair does not require shampooing. If shampoo is
going to be used, a gentle ph neutral cleanser is recommended.
Nails of newborn babies are often very soft and may not require
cutting for the first few months. If needed, you may gently peel
the growing edge of the nail or use very small baby nail clippers with a
Cradle cap is a common condition that affects a baby's scalp, and is caused by a build up of natural oils
and dry skin. Your baby's skin may
appear red and scaly, but not itchy. Crusty patches may appear.
You should remove the crust by massaging your baby's scalp with
dermeze (available from your pharmacy) and leaving on for a few
hours or overnight. When the crust is soft, gently remove with a comb. If
your baby's skin becomes itchy, consider seeing your doctor.
Developed by the RCH Dermatology.
First published: March 2011