Babying Your Baby’s Skin

A mother’s love goes much more than skin deep. Thank goodness, because most children’s skin is far from perfect. Little ones, even newborns, are prone to a host of problems—from rashes and bumps to scaly skin.

Cradle Cap

If your baby has scaly patches on the scalp, most likely he or she has cradle cap. Cradle cap is very common. Experts think it is the natural result of hormones during pregnancy. Although it usually disappears within the first year, these steps may help speed up the process:

• Frequently wash your baby’s hair with a mild soap.

• Brush your baby’s hair gently after washing to loosen scales.

• If scales don’t come off, massage baby oil into the scalp before washing.

• Call your baby’s pediatrician if the condition worsens or scales spread to other areas.

Baby Acne

Hormones also can cause baby acne. This condition usually appears in the first month as little white dots on your newborn’s nose. To treat it, bathe your baby no more than two to three times per week with plain water or mild baby soap. Never use adult acne medications. Bumps should clear up on their own by age 12 to 18 months.


Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a hereditary condition that affects up to 20 percent of all children younger than age 4. It usually develops in infants whose parents have had allergies or hay fever. Symptoms generally appear before age 5 but may occur as late as adulthood.

Eczema may first appear on the face as a red, bumpy rash and can spread to elbows, knees, or other areas. It may look dry, cracked, or scaly. But most of all, it itches. Call your child’s doctor if you notice these symptoms. He or she may prescribe medicated creams and check for food allergies.

Although eczema can’t be prevented, some studies suggest breast-feeding during the baby’s first four months might help. To avoid flare-ups:

• Avoid excessive scrubbing or towel drying.

• Apply petroleum jelly after bathing.

• Avoid irritants such as drying soaps, tight-fitting clothing, scratchy material, or excessive heat.

• Keep bathwater lukewarm. Hot water may dry out the skin.

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