Babies’ skin needs are easily met. There are many excellent sources of in-depth information on this subject and your health visitor will always be ready to help.
In general terms babies do not need to be bathed every day and only the gentlest products should be used on a baby’s skin, in fact many people bathe their baby in pure water with no cleansers at all. Regular, not too frequent baths, gently cleansing with damp washcloths on non-bath days and careful attention to nappy changing and keeping skin dry and clean usually do the job. As baby gets older and into mischief a gentle baby soap or oil-rich, moisturizing cold process soap such as Marble Hill Neem Oil Soap used very sparingly are all that is necessary to cleanse.
Where problems occur, they split into two groups; those which can be managed by the parents using over the counter products and those which need professional intervention from a health visitor or doctor.
Common complaints include cradle cap, nappy rash and teething rash.
Cradle cap is a thick yellow layer which appears on baby’s scalp and which can be very unsightly and hard to remove. It is also called “infantile seborrhoeic eczema” and may be related to an allergy to common skin yeast. In minor cases cradle cap can be managed with an application of an oily moisturiser an hour or so before bathing. Many people prefer to avoid petroleum based products such as baby oil, petroleum jelly or mineral oil, preferring to use natural chemical free plant oil. Shea Butter has been used for this purpose in Africa for hundreds of years. Some claims have been made that Shea butter has anti-fungal properties but these are still being researched scientifically. Often a single application of Shea butter is enough to banish the cradle cap completely but as it is edible and nontoxic, the treatment can be repeated as often as desired. After letting the shea butter soak in the scalp is washed with a baby safe shampoo and dried thoroughly. If wished, the scalp can be gently brushed to remove the scales before washing or after if any scales remain.
Where nappy rash is concerned, it is the rare baby who never gets nappy rash. Regular nappy changing, as soon as possible after soiling, washing and drying of the nappy area are all vital. Keeping the area dry and exposing the skin to the fresh air as much as possible, allowing the skin to breathe, help, too. Every mother has her own preferred way of managing the skin protection of the nappy area, often harking back to her own mother’s practice. Vaseline (petroleum jelly), Zinc oxide cream, Sudocrem and now Shea Butter all have their fans. The benefits of Shea Butter lie in its ability to gradually form a barrier to water and irritants which is added to with every application. Because it is also totally fragrance free, irritant free and edible it can be used with complete confidence.
If a rash is persistent or if it looks unusual it may be thrush or another less common problem and needs to be checked out by the professionals. Furthermore, if a marked rash comes on suddenly and baby is ill it is always better to be safe than sorry and consider meningitis and contact the doctor urgently. With regard to baby wipes I attach this link, which may be very helpful when making choices: The truth about baby wipes
Teething often causes increased dribbling which results in the skin on the chin and under the neck to get soggy, sore and reddened. Shea butter is an excellent choice as barrier cream as it is so pure and natural and may be applied into the folds under the neck as well. If the area under the neck is persistently soggy and sore-looking it is worth eliminating thrush as a factor. Once it is healed, can be used regularly to help prevent the skin becoming water-logged again.
Eczema is more common in families where there is a history of atopy that is the triad of asthma, hay fever and eczema where allergies to different triggers set off reactions, such as sneezing, wheezing or inflammation of the skin, whether as rashes or wide areas of reddened itchy skin. Increasingly we are seeing eczema/dermatitis as a reaction to skincare products and this is why so many people now choose natural, fragrance and preservative free options such as plant oil based moisturisers and cleansers. My own son started with eczema when I bathed him in a detergent –based baby bath liquid on his arrival home after he was born. He has had trouble with his skin ever since and I blame myself for being too keen to keep up with the fad for new fangled babycare products, if I had stuck to what was tried and tested he may never have had any problem at all.
Regular generous application of emollients (moisturisers) is very important for the management of skin prone to eczema to keep it in good condition and this is true of babies’ as much as older people. Avoiding products with a long list of ingredients is usually an easy way of staying away from potential allergens.
For drier skins we produce a range of gentle Shea Butter based moisturisers including SurgiSalve, and Moisture Veil which is very rich and conditioning for the driest skin as well as Q24 our pure body oil which like our creams is fragrance free and suitable for general use and perfect for baby massage. We recommend SheaSalve as a gentle all-round moisturiser and skin conditioner which can be used all over even if baby sucks their fingers as it is completely edible and harmless.