All parents know their precious little one’s skin is extra sensitive. With skin more permeable, prone to dryness, and 20% thinner than adults, your baby’s skin is extra vulnerable to the world around it.
Unfortunately, there’s no one size fits all solution to ensure your baby’s skin remains soft and free of irritation. From the hot and sweltering heat of the summer to the biting cold of winter, nature is unforgiving and unpredictable, making it more difficult to find an all-encompassing solution for protecting your little one’s skin. So what can you do to protect your baby’s skin, no matter the season?
For this article, instead of breaking it down to seasons, we will look at what skin ailments can affect your baby at both extremes of the hottest and coldest time of year, then look at what you can do as a parent to prevent or treat these issues. Generally, the tips we’re sharing can be applied to any month of the year, but hold especially true during both weather extremes. Let’s take a look!
Protecting your baby’s skin when it’s hot
The dog days of summer can be a tough one on your baby’s skin. From the unforgiving rays of the summer sun to the sweltering heat in the air, babies’ skin can undergo quite heavy stress during the summer months. Here’s what you should know for keeping your little one’s skin healthy during the hottest time of year.
Mind the sun
During the heat of summer, one thing you need to watch out for is the sun. We all know what too much UV exposure can do to our skin. This is doubly true for babies, as it doesn’t take much direct sun exposure to lead to infant sunburn. Part of the reason is that they haven’t yet developed enough melanin, the natural pigment that protects our skin from the sun.
The simplest way to avoid infant sunburn is to avoid direct sunlight. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, infants should not be exposed to direct sunlight before 6 months of age. It’s important to limit outside exposure during the peak sun hours between 10 AM and 4 PM.
Another thing you should do is dress your child in sun-protective clothing. This means lightweight clothing that fully covers the arms and legs, and brimmed hats to protect both the face and neck. For extra protection look for clothing marked with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 30 or more.
Choosing and applying sunscreen
You can introduce sunscreen to your little one after 6 months of age. Make sure the sunscreen is broad-spectrum, water-resistant, and offers a minimum SPF of 15. Choose physical (with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) instead of chemical-based sunscreens, to avoid irritating your baby’s skin.
Keep in mind, that sunscreen and general UV protection are important in the winter months as well, as UV rays can reflect off of snowy surfaces.
How should I treat my baby’s sunburn?
Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, your little one may still get sunburned. In this case, you can apply a cool compress to the burned area for 10-15 minutes, repeated 3-4 times per day until the burn is healed. Afterward, you can apply non-toxic baby moisturizer to the burn area. If the burn is causing blisters or any general feeling of illness, call your pediatrician immediately.
As the heat goes up in the summer, so do your little one’s chances of developing heat rash. Showing up as small pinkish-red bumps, heat rash tends to show up on your baby’s body parts that are prone to sweating, such as the diaper area (also known as diaper rash), neck, armpits, and other skin folds.
The most effective preventative and treatment measures are a cool, dry environment and dressing your baby in non-restrictive, soft clothing. Harsh fabrics can cause unpleasant friction, so fabrics with soft texture and breathability such as cotton are generally a better bet for your baby’s skin.
Another thing you can do is avoid over-bathing. Over-bathing can strip your baby’s skin of its natural oils and aggravate irritation. For areas that do get dirty often, such as a baby’s mouth or diaper area, parents should wash as needed. Besides that though, 2-3 sponge baths per week should be enough.
In most cases, heat rash goes away on its own in 2 to 3 days. If you decide your baby’s skin needs extra soothing, apply over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream 1 to 2 times a day, or apply a cool compress to the rash to relieve itching.
Because they are designed to hold wetness, diapers make the delicate skin of your baby’s bottom region more prone to developing a rash. Urine and feces can create highly humid and Ph adverse conditions, or in some cases cause bacterial or yeast infections.
Diaper rash can also arise from allergies to components of the diaper or wipes used to clean your baby’s bottom. As such, diaper rash is generally associated with infrequent diaper changes, sensitive skin, and chafing.
Diaper rash can occur any time of the year, but is often made much worse during summer because of the higher temperatures and humidity. The skin’s pH shifts further away from that of urinary wetness and stool enzymes, making diaper rash more common during this time.
How to prevent diaper rash
Friction and lack of breathability are commonly associated with summer diaper rash. This is why when it comes to its prevention, parents should consider the diaper’s softness, absorption, and fit.
The material should be gentle to the touch, stay relatively dry, and fit properly on your little one- secure enough to prevent friction, but not so restrictive to prevent breathing. Also important is ensuring your baby’s diaper contains no harmful chemicals, fragrances, or other additives, to avoid irritation.
Made with parents’ love, and striving to make babies as cozy, comfortable, and happy as possible, the new baby product brand BabyCozy recently launched its Bouncy Soft diapers, specially made to bring premium comfort to babies skin.
A quality diaper can only do so much, however. You should always quickly change your baby’s diaper once it becomes wet or dirty, to prevent prolonged exposure to increased humidity and adverse pH. When doing a diaper change, make sure your baby’s bottom is cleaned thoroughly with warm water or alcohol-free wipes.
Some wipes even come with moisturizers. For example, BabyCozy’s Coconut Nourish Wipes contain coconut essential oil, that locks nourishment into the skin with each wipe.
Moisturizing your little one’s behind during diaper changes is recommended year-round- to form a protective barrier of moisture, protecting your baby’s skin from external irritants.
After cleaning off, it’s also important to allow your little one’s skin time to air out before putting on a new diaper.
Treating diaper rash
For both prevention and treatment, WebMD recommends applying a protective layer of petroleum jelly or diaper rash cream to the affected area, even when no rash is present.
Keep in mind, while more prevalent in the summer, diaper rash can be caused by a variety of reasons, and can also occur during any time of year.
Protecting your baby’s skin when the temps drop
As the weather transitions from the sweltering heat of summer to the biting cold of winter, parents are met with a new set of challenges for keeping their babies’ skin healthy. Just like the heat, cold weather can be hard on your little one’s delicate skin.
According to Paul Hoenig, MD., emeritus professor of pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, “The combination of low humidity, cold temperatures, and wind can be rough,” sapping precious moisture, and leaving your child’s skin dry and windburned. Here’s what parents should know when the temperature drops.
Dry, irritated skin
Dry skin can manifest as red, irritated, and flaky patches all over your baby’s body. If your baby already suffers from a skin condition like eczema, you need to be extra vigilant in taking care of their skin in cold weather.
Here’s what you can do to prevent and treat your baby’s dry and itchy skin:
Choose your moisturizers carefully
Avoid products containing perfumes or alcohol. While lotions are good for moisturizing, your baby may not need them applied that often. Thicker moisturizers like creams or ointments can be much more helpful for especially dry and irritated patches of skin.
Limit the drying effects of bath time
Many parents dry out their baby’s skin by bathing them too often. The truth is, babies don’t need to be bathed every day. Too much exposure to water, especially hot water can actually cause their skin to lose moisture. Instead of your daily hot bath routine, short baths in lukewarm water are better for your little one’s skin.
When giving your baby a bath, avoid bath products that contain fragrances, detergents, or deodorants, as they can dry your little one’s skin out. Soap-free cleansers tend to be less drying than soap-based products.
After bath time, instead of rubbing, be sure to pat your baby dry with a towel. A few minutes after bath time is one of the best times to moisturize your little one, as their skin is still damp.
According to Anthony J. Mancini, M.D., a pediatrics and dermatology professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, parents should “moisturize within three minutes of the bath, while there are still water droplets on the skin, or as soon as is practical. This will seal in the moisture.”
Invest in a humidifier
Especially if your area or home is particularly dry, consider using a humidifier. Controlling the moisture in the air can help reduce dry skin.
Dress for the weather
While layering up ensures your little one stays warm, it can be easy to overdo it. If your baby gets too hot, they start to sweat, leading to the same skin irritation issues such as heat and diaper rash you might see during the summer. Just like the summer, you want to avoid excess friction with your baby’s skin. Dress your little one up in soft, breathable fabrics, and avoid clothing with rough seams or tags.
Other cold-weather skin issues
Chapped mouth area
Your baby’s mouth area can become chapped during the winter from the combination of cold and drool. According to Mancini, parents should “Create a barrier between the skin and saliva.”
Be sure to use a gentle lip balm with safe ingredients. The skin around the nostrils can become irritated too if your baby’s nose is runny. In this case, a few dabs of a petroleum-based product such as Aquaphor should work.
Windburn and rosy cheeks
Any exposed skin can become irritated when exposed to cold temperatures or the wind. This irritation can manifest as windburn- sensitive, dry red patches of skin much like a sunburn. First of all, dress your little one so he or she is properly shielded from the elements, especially on a windy day. Consider buying a plastic stroller cover if you go outside often.
Moisturizing before and after going outside with thickly applied lotion can also help. Remember, UV reflection off of snow can also cause sunburn, so it’s good to choose a lotion with SPF protection.
Both hot and cold weather present unique challenges in keeping your little one’s skin healthy. As said by BabyCozy representative Cherry, “Always making the right decision for your baby’s skin can be difficult, especially during different seasons.”
She continued, “Don’t beat yourself up if your baby experiences irritated skin at one point or another. As long as you ensure only the softest materials and non-irritating ingredients touch your baby’s skin, and as long as you’re proactive if issues do arise, you’re are already doing a great job.”