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Recommendations for infant skin care

The right baby care in the first year

Various dermatologists from Berlin-based Charité, as well as other European skin specialists, developed latest skin care and cleansing recommendations for infant skin.1

In order to protect the vernix caseosa, newborns should only be dabbed gently with a dry  towel after birth, but not washed with water. As soon as the body temperature is stable, the infant may be bathed for the first time, even if the umbilical cord stump has not fallen off
yet. Bathing as part of the evening ritual is recommended at least twice or three times a week. The specialists explicitly favoured bathing the baby to washing with a facecloth. The bathtub itself and bath toys should be kept clean but there is no need to disinfect them. The previously recommended room temperature was between 21 °C and 22 °C, now it should be between 21 °C and 24 °C. The bath should last five to ten minutes and the water  temperature should be between 37 °C and 37.5 °C.

Bathing with or without additives
In order to not intervene in the maturity process of the infant‘s skin, the bath water should either contain liquid cleansing substances (no soap) that have been developed especially for babies, or no additives at all. These cleansing substances do not interfere with the natural maturity process of the skin barrier function. Studies show those specially developed cleansing substances for babies are tolerated well and are not considered inferior to washing the baby with water. Small amounts of baby oil may be also added.

Skin Care
The right creams and lotions can improve the skin barrier function of healthy infant skin. A thin layer of cream should be applied to the baby‘s skin at least twice a week. Applying cream is particularly recommended after bathing. The cream or lotion of choice, however, should depend on the respective season: the skin needs richer care products when it is cooler outside than during the warmer seasons. When applied thinly, baby oil can be a temporary relief for dry skin. Over-the-counter cooking or kitchen oils are unsuitable for  baby skin. Any possibly pathological skin alterations such as flaky or cracked skin should be examined by a dermatologist.

The diaper area
Diapers should be changed regularly so that the skin stays clean and dry. Wet wipes with a suitable pH value, specifically designed for the diaper area, cotton balls, or a washcloth can be used to clean the diaper area. Wet wipes may be used from birth on and at every diaper change. Please allow skin to air dry completely or dry it gently with a dry towel or dry cotton balls before putting on the fresh diaper.

1 Blume-Peytavi et al. Pediatr Dermatol. 2016 May; 33(3):311-21