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A newborn baby's skin is delicate and needs a careful approach to skin care.

Chemicals, perfumes, and dyes in clothing, detergents and baby products can cause newborn skin irritation, dryness, chafing and rashes.

The good thing about baby's skin sensitivity? Your touch on your newborn's skin has a soothing, nurturing effect, and is critical to your baby's development.

Natural baby skin care

A newborn baby is born with wrinkly skin and a protective covering called vernix that peels off. This is a natural process during the first week. There's no need to hurry it, rub it, or treat it with lotions or creams. (If baby is born after the due date, this process is likely to be complete before birth).

With newborn skin care, "less is more." Doctors advise that bathing babies too often -- plus too much exposure to chemicals and other potential allergens, can lead to skin problems later in life.

Don't use baby products in the early months. The immune system is still developing. If you have a family history of skin problems, allergies, or asthma, it's especially important to protect your baby's immune system, and protect baby from irritating allergens.

Wash baby's clothing before it's worn. Only use baby washing detergents that are fragrance and dye free. Wash baby clothes, bedding, and blankets separately from the family's laundry. Give everything an extra rinse.

Resist the urge to bath your baby frequently. Too much bathing removes the natural oils that protect baby's skin. That leaves baby's skin vulnerable, so it reacts to any potential allergen, triggering a reaction like eczema.

Except for dribble and nappy changes, newborn babies don't get very dirty. Babies aren’t working 9 to 5 and going to the gym afterwards! For the first month or so, a sponge bath two or three times a week will keep your baby safely clean. In between, simply clean baby’s mouth and nappy area with a little water or cleanser.

Newborn dry skin: Eczema

Most newborn skin problems, such as eczema or nappy rash, don't develop for the first month or two. Eczema appears as a red, itchy rash mostly on face and scalp, at the elbows, and behind the knees.

A few tips on preventing dry, irritated skin and eczema:

  • Try bathing once a week to allow skin to retain natural oils.
  • Limit your use of baby skin products. If necessary, use only a small amount of lotion on dry skin areas.
  • Make sure baby wears only soft clothing.

Check with your doctor about using over-the-counter lotions or creams to treat eczema. You may need a prescription treatment.

Baby skin care: Nappy rash

Nappy rash is most often caused by the irritating wetness of a soiled nappy. The rash can also develop when baby's skin is not properly dried after a bath. Sometimes, a bacteria or yeast infection will cause nappy rash. Babies taking antibiotics are especially susceptible to a yeast infection nappy rash because the drugs allow fungal growth.

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