“Help! My baby’s skin is peeling. Is this normal?” Don’t panic, Mommy. Learn more about newborn skin peeling here.
What can you read in this article?
- Newborn skin peeling – how long and why does it happen?
- What can I put on my newborn’s peeling skin
- Mom-tested treatments on baby skin peeling
A newborn’s appearance changes — sometimes dramatically — over the few weeks after birth. Newborn skin peeling is just one of the many changes you might notice.
For example, you might notice that your little tot’s eyes and hair change in color, and his skin may become lighter or darker. One of the things that will almost always change is your baby’s skin.
Before you leave the hospital or even a few days or weeks after coming home, there is a possibility that your newborn’s skin will start peeling or flaking.
But before you start worrying, rest assured that is perfectly normal, and soon, your little one will have that fabled “baby smooth” skin you hear of.
Still, it’s good to be in the know about all matters related to your newborn.
So if you are curious to find out about newborn skin peeling on your baby’s head, why it happens and how you can look after his delicate skin, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s all you need to know about newborn skin peeling.
Newborn skin peeling: why does it happen?
Seconds after birth, a newborn is covered in various fluids and substances, including blood, amniotic fluid and vernix.
Vernix is a waxy, cheese-like substance that naturally occurs in the last trimester of pregnancy, thickly coating a baby’s body. The main purpose of vernix while your baby is still in your womb, is to protect his skin from amniotic fluid.
But vernix also has an important function post-birth, that is related to your newborn’s skin. According to research, it helps keep your baby’s skin moist and hydrated, which “may facilitate postnatal skin hydration.”
In other words, it acts as a natural moisturizer.
However, once the vernix (along with the amniotic fluid and blood) is wiped off your baby’s skin soon after birth, your little one will begin to shed the outer layer of his skin, says Healthline.
Newborn skin peeling – how long and how much peeling will occur?
The amount of peeling depends on whether your baby was born prematurely, on time, or was overdue. Generally, the more vernix a baby has on his skin at birth, the less he may peel, say medical experts.
For example, a premature baby will usually peel less than a full-term or overdue baby, because he is covered with more vernix at birth.
You will usually notice newborn skin peeling within a week to three weeks after birth, most often on your baby’s hands and feet. Not to worry, because the peeling will usually resolve on its own within a couple of weeks.
When newborn skin peeling is caused by other factors
Sometimes, the peeling of your baby’s skin could be caused by other conditions such as eczema or seborrhoeic dermatitis (cradle cap), according to Healthline and Dr Mark Koh Jean Aan of the Paediatric Dermatology Service, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH).
Peeling and dryness of newborn skin may also be caused by a genetic condition called ichthyosis.
Eczema on a baby’s neck. This condition can be irritating for baby and unsightly to see, but can be effectively managed.
Newborn skin peeling on face can be eczema
Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema can cause dry, red, itchy patches on your child’s skin — usually on the cheeks, at the joints of the legs and arms, or other places where your baby’s skin naturally folds, like the neck.
Dr Koh explains that while the exact cause of eczema is not known, it is an immune reaction and a genetic condition, often running in families.
Triggers that can worsen this condition include house dust mites, viral infections, some vaccination and high temperatures, as well as allergens such as detergents, soaps and creams, says Dr Koh.
If you suspect your infant has eczema, consult your pediatrician without delay, as he can advise you on the best course of action to treat the condition.
Here are some tips from Dr Koh:
- Bathe baby daily with slightly warm water and a mild soap or soap substitute.
- Don’t rub your baby’s skin dry — pat it dry instead.
- Use a recommended moisturizer every day to prevent and control eczema flare-ups.
- If your baby gets really bad eczema flare-ups, a mild steroid cream may be prescribed by a doctor.
- Applying expressed breast milk on skin affected by eczema. You can even give a breastmilk bath if you have enough expressed breastmilk to spare.
- If eczema is present on baby’s cheeks, clean the area well after each feed with clean water and a clean cotton ball.
- Virgin coconut oil (organic)
- Boil Jin ying hua* ( honeysuckle flower/ Lonicera) and use the cooled water to bathe baby.
Seborrhoeic dermatitis – newborn skin peeling on head
This condition is also known as ‘cradle cap’, which will also cause your baby’s skin to peel — usually on the scalp, but also sometimes on the neck, eyebrows, armpits and groin areas.
“Cradle cap occurs due to an overgrowth of a normal skin fungus / yeast, secondary to stimulation from maternal hormones while the baby is still in the womb. However, in some babies, it may be an early sign of atopic dermatitis or atopic eczema,” says Dr Koh.
Cradle cap usually presents as scaly pink to red patches on the affected areas of skin.
Cradle cap usually clears up on it own within a few months, or less.
Cradle cap usually doesn’t need medical treatment and will clear up by itself in a few months. To help it clear up, here are some things you can do:
- Wash your little one’s hair/ scalp once a day with mild baby shampoo. Brush the scalp lightly with a soft brush to help loosen the flakes of the skin.
- Dr Koh suggests rubbing some olive oil on your baby’s scalp, one hour before bath time. This will help loosen the flakes of the skin.
- If frequent shampooing doesn’t help, doctors at Mayo Clinic recommend consulting your baby’s pediatrician who can suggest an appropriate solution.
- Calendula cream (California Baby) — if scales extend to skin on forehead/eyebrows
- Rubbing extra virgin coconut oil (VCO) on baby’s scalp before bath time, then washing it off
- Applying some breastmilk on baby’s scalp, letting it dry, and then brushing off the flakes with a soft brush during bath time
Do not use over-the-counter dandruff shampoos or other creams or products as they could have a harmful effect on your baby’s health.
This is a genetic condition that results in itchy, scaly skin and skin shedding, according to Healthline.
Your baby’s doctor may take a blood or skin sample to diagnose this condition in your baby, as well as via a physical examination and based on your family’s medical history.
Currently, there is no cure for ichthyosis. But Dr. Brittany Craiglow, in a Seminars in Perinatology article, explains that the best way to manage this skin condition is by daily bathing with only water and/or mild cleansers, and “frequent, liberal applications of bland emollients such as petrolatum-based products.”
Do keep in mind that your baby’s doctor is the best source of professional advice for personalised information on how to manage this condition and what products to use on your little one’s skin.
Keeping your baby’s skin well-moisturised is one of the things you can do to help manage his dry, peeling skin.
How to manage newborn skin peeling
“What can I put on my newborn’s peeling skin?”
While peeling skin is perfectly normal in newborns, some parents might get a bit worried that their little one’s skin is getting too dry, or even cracking in places.
Here are some tips to help get your baby through this phase, emerging with soft, smooth skin at the end of it!
1. Use a moisturizer
Apply a gentle, hypoallergenic moisturizer on your newborn’s skin twice a day, especially after bath time, which will help keep his skin moist. Speak to your baby’s doctor about the best brand of moisturizer to use.
As you apply the cream or lotion, gently massage your baby’s skin as this can help loosen dry skin.
2. Keep your little one hydrated
Breastfeed/ bottlefeed on demand or according to your schedule. This will help keep your baby hydrated which in turn will assist in reducing dry skin.
REMEMBER: Do not give your baby water until after he is six months old, as it can be harmful to your baby’s health. Read this article to find out why.
Newborn Guide: 10 things you need to know about Cradle Cap
Dahon ng Bayabas para sa Eczema: Mabisa ba ito?
A Skin Irritation and Flare up Guide: Will Baby Lotion for Sensitive Skin Help?
3. Stick to short baths
While a daily bath can help your baby’s peeling skin, remember to keep bath time short. This is because being immersed in water for a long time can strip your newborn’s skin of natural oils, aggravating his dry skin.
A good bath time duration is between 5 to 10 minutes.
Also, use lukewarm instead of hot water, and stick to soap- and fragrance-free cleansers and a soft wash cloth. Don’t rub at your baby’s skin with the wash cloth, instead, clean his skin gently with circular movements.
Remember that regular soap and body washes may be too harsh for your little one’s delicate skin.
4. Avoid harsh chemicals
Harsh chemicals in perfumed skincare products or even laundry detergents can irritate your newborn’s delicate skin, prolonging and making worse his dry, peeling skin.
Stick to perfume- and chemical-free skincare products and look for clothes detergents specifically designed for a baby’s sensitive skin.
5. Use a humidifier
If you use an air-conditioner in your baby’s room, this will dry out the air in the room, potentially making your baby’s skin-peeling worse. It can also aggravate conditions such as eczema.
Try using a humidifier to add moisture to the air, which will improve the condition of your little one’s skin.
Parents, we hope you found this article useful. Remember, if you are in doubt about anything related to your newborn’s skin, or health in general, consult his paediatrician without delay.
Also, if your baby’s dry, peeling skin lingers on for more than around a month, or worsens, it’s best to consult with a medical professional.
Republished with permission from theAsianParent Singapore
Additional information from Camille Eusebio
Healthline, Medical News Today, WebMD
Here at theAsianparent Philippines, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advise or medical treatment. TheAsianparent Philippines is not responsible to those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend to consult your doctor for clearer information.