If you’re the parent of a newborn, the chances are that you have noticed some skin peeling. We’ve all been there, and it can be a bit problematic!
Having a baby can be a fascinating time in your life. Because your primary focus is keeping your newborn safe and healthy, it’s understandable to worry about your baby’s well-being.
This blog post will cover what this means and why your little one’s skin might be peeling. It will also provide some solutions for dealing with this problem. My Baby Nursery is your one-stop baby product store.
If your baby’s skin appears dry or starts peeling in the weeks following birth, knowing what causes peeling might ease your worries.
Is it Normal for a Newborn to Have Peeling Skin?
If your newborn’s skin is peeling, the first question that’s probably crossed your mind is whether or not it’s normal. You can now breathe a sigh of relief: it’s perfectly normal.
All newborns lose their outer layer of skin in the first two to three weeks after birth. Babies spend their first nine months surrounded by protective liquids, so being exposed to dry air is a new phenomenon for them. It can be a difficult transition.
As newborn babies adjust to life outside the womb, they must create a new layer of skin suitable for their new environment. This means getting rid of their old skin and replacing it with an outer layer that is tougher and more resilient. So most newborns’ skin will peel off in their first few weeks of life.
Of course, this may result in some unsightly peeling skin on your little one’s body. Just remember that it’s perfectly normal and that it will heal soon.
Why Does Peeling, Dry Skin Occur?
A newborn’s appearance — including their skin — can change a lot within the first few weeks of life. Your baby’s hair can change colours, and its complexion may become lighter or darker.
Before leaving the hospital or within days of coming home, your newborn’s skin may also begin flaking or peeling. This is entirely normal for newborns. Peeling can occur on any part of the body, such as the hands, soles of the feet, and ankles.
Newborns are born covered in various fluids. This includes amniotic fluid, blood, and vernix. Vernix is a thick coating that protects a baby’s skin from amniotic sap.
A nurse will wipe fluids off a newborn shortly after birth. Once the vernix is gone, your baby will begin to shed the outer layer of its skin within one to three weeks.
The amount of peeling varies and depends on whether your baby was premature, delivered on time, or overdue.
The more vernix a baby has on its skin at birth, the less it may peel.
Premature babies have more vernix, so these newborns often peel more minor than a baby born at or after 40 weeks. In either case, some dryness and peeling after birth are typical. Skin flaking will go away on its own and doesn’t usually require special care.
While in gestation, your baby is surrounded by something called amniotic fluid. Amniotic fluid helps to protect your infant while in the womb. It also helps to pass nutrients from mother to child.
Around the 20th week of gestation, a thin layer of protective wax forms on the outside of your baby’s skin. This waxy outer layer is called vernix. Interestingly, the official name for vernix is vernix caseosa, which is Latin and roughly translates to “cheesy varnish.”
While researchers aren’t entirely sure what the purpose of vernix is, there are several theories, such as:
Vernix may stop your child from absorbing too much fluid while in the womb.
- It can act as a natural lubricant during labour.
- Vernix supplies antibacterial protection around the time of birth.
- It can protect your newborn’s skin during and immediately after delivery.
Whatever the reasons for its development may be, vernix is usually washed off a newborn’s skin soon after birth. Some small patches of vernix may remain in your little one’s creviced skin, such as the armpits or between the toes.
That’s perfectly fine.
Medical professionals advise against washing off vernix intentionally. Instead, it would help if you allowed it to fall off naturally (which will happen in the first several weeks of your child’s life).
Once most of the protective vernix is gone, your newborn’s skin becomes more vulnerable to the harsh conditions of life outside the womb. Infants have incredibly soft, delicate skin that’s often irritated easily.
On top of that, consider the fact that your little one has spent most of their entire existence surrounded by fluid.
As a result, something as ordinary as dry air has the potential to cause dryness and peeling on your newborn’s skin.
When a baby is in the womb, a thick waxy coating called vernix caseosa, or vernix develops on the baby’s skin to protect it from the amniotic fluid.
If people avoid washing the vernix off the baby immediately after birth, this natural biofilm may also help the baby’s skin adapt to life outside the womb.
The extent of the skin peeling will vary according to the baby’s gestational age at birth.
Babies born prematurely or before 40 weeks are likely to have less skin peeling than babies born closer to term or after more than 40 weeks.
Babies who spend more time in the womb tend to have less vernix on them at birth, meaning that their skin has had more exposure to amniotic fluid. This can lead to increased skin peeling.
While a newborn’s exposure to the amniotic fluid is the most common cause of newborn skin peeling, there are other possible causes.
In some cases, peeling and dry skin are caused by a skin condition called eczema or atopic dermatitis. Eczema can cause dry, red, itchy patches on your baby’s skin.
This condition is rare in the period immediately after birth but may develop later in infancy. The exact cause of this skin condition is unknown.
Various factors can trigger a flare-up, including exposure to irritants such as shampoos and detergents.
Dairy products, soy products, and wheat may also trigger or worsen eczema in some people. If your baby is using a soy-based formula, your doctor may recommend switching to a non-soy formula.
Your doctor may also recommend special moisturising creams for eczema, such as Aveeno or Cetaphil baby care products.
Peeling and dryness can also be caused by a genetic condition called ichthyosis. This skin condition causes scaly, itchy skin and skin shedding.
Your doctor may diagnose your baby with this condition based on your family’s medical history and a physical examination. Your baby’s doctor may also take a blood or skin sample.
There’s no cure for ichthyosis, but applying creams regularly can relieve dryness and improve your baby’s skin condition.
Treatments for Peeling, Dry Skin
Although skin peeling is average in newborns, you may worry about your infant’s skin cracking or becoming overly dry in certain areas. Here are some simple strategies to protect your newborn’s skin and reduce dryness.
Reduce Bath Time
Long baths can remove moisture and hydration from your newborn’s delicate skin. Make efficient use of your baby’s bath time!
A parent or caregiver should limit bath time to a maximum of 10 minutes and avoid using harsh soaps. Five to seven minutes is the ideal length of time for your newborn’s bath. Try not to allow it to last more than 10 minutes.
When it comes to bathing babies, more is not always better. In addition to keeping baths short, make sure not to bathe your baby too frequently.
Limit baths to once per day. Anything more could dry out your little one’s skin.
Between bath times or when you’re on the go, you can use cleansing water, which will keep your baby clean from head to toe—no bathwater or rinsing needed!
After bath time is over, gently pat your baby’s skin dry from head to toe and make sure to pay special attention to the tricky nooks that have the potential to trap water and moisture—the diaper area, chubby leg folds, and tiny armpits.
Trapped moisture could lead to skin irritation or a rash.
Use Lukewarm Water to Clean the Baby
Lukewarm water is ideal for washing a baby’s skin. Water that is too hot can dry out the skin. It can also be beneficial to apply moisturiser immediately after a lukewarm bath.
Hot water dries out skin for people of all ages — including newborns. If your little one has peeling skin, you don’t want to use water that’s too warm.
Use lukewarm instead of hot water, and only use fragrance-free, soap-free cleansers. A water temperature of 100° F is perfect for your newborn’s sensitive skin. And always follow a bath with a layer of a hydrating moisturiser. Regular Soap and bubble baths are too harsh for a newborn’s skin.
Use a Baby Cleanser (not Soap!)
To help treat and prevent peeling skin, only wash your newborn with a cleanser specially formulated with natural ingredients for babies.
The Soap you use for yourself is likely too harsh for your newborn’s delicate skin. Baby-friendly shampoos are also beneficial for your new little one.
Add Bath Oil
Make bath time a little less drying by adding a drop or two bath oil to the water before getting started. A bath oil preserves the skin barrier to help keep the baby’s skin hydrated. Plus, you can also use it as a cleansing oil when your body is wet.
Finally, bath oil will help neutralise any harsh chemicals that could further dry out your little one’s skin. All of this will help you treat and prevent newborn skin peeling.
One word of caution: remember that oil in the bath can make the tub extra slippery!
Be careful getting the baby in and out of the bath, and make sure to clean the tub to remove the oily layer when necessary.
Use natural cleaning products to avoid leaving irritating chemicals in the baby’s bathtub.
Avoid Cold Air and Wind
As we mentioned above, newborn skin isn’t used to being exposed to air.
Make sure your newborn’s skin isn’t exposed to the cold or wind when outdoors. Put socks or mittens over your baby’s hands and feet.
You can also place a blanket over your newborn’s car seat or carrier to protect their face from the wind and cold air.
Compared to the amniotic fluids they were surrounded by while in gestation, the air outside the womb is arid. To treat your newborn’s peeling skin, keep your home at a comfortable temperature and keep your bundle of joy wrapped up when in chilly weather.
Apply a Moisturiser
Moisturise the skin. Apply baby-sensitive moisturiser two to three times a day.
Parents and caregivers can buy moisturisers that are particularly suitable for a baby’s sensitive skin. They should choose a hypoallergenic moisturiser and apply it two to three times a day.
If your baby’s skin seems dry, you may want to apply a hypoallergenic moisturiser to your baby’s skin twice a day, including after bath time.
Applying cream to skin immediately after a bath helps seal in moisture. This can ease dryness and keep your baby’s skin soft.
Gently massaging your newborn’s skin with a moisturiser can loosen flaky skin and facilitate peeling.
Keep Your Newborn Hydrated
Keeping your baby as hydrated as possible also reduces dry skin.
Babies shouldn’t drink water until they’re about six months old unless your doctor says otherwise.
Avoid Harsh Chemicals
Because a newborn’s skin is sensitive, it’s also important to avoid harsh chemicals that irritate your baby’s skin. Don’t apply perfumes or scented products to your newborn’s skin.
Instead of washing your newborn’s clothes with regular laundry detergent, choose a detergent designed specifically for a baby’s sensitive skin.
Use a Humidifier
If the air in your house is too dry, use a cool-mist humidifier to raise the moisture level in your home. A humidifier helps relieve eczema and dry skin.
When moisture is present in the air, it helps to prevent dry, itchy skin. A humidifier will increase the amount of water in the room.
Using a humidifier in your home can make a big difference for your baby’s skin. Humidifiers add moisture to the air, which helps treat and prevent newborn skin peeling.
Set the humidifier up in whichever room your baby spends the most time in, and let it run for a few hours whenever the air feels a bit dry.
Try an Oatmeal Bath
Research shows that colloidal oatmeal reduces inflammation and itching, preventing the baby from scratching any damaged, peeling skin and making it worse. Oatmeal bath treatments are available in many drug stores, natural food stores, and online.
Keeping the Baby Hydrated
Another way to prevent peeling skin on newborns is to ensure that they do not become dehydrated. Breast milk or formula should be sufficient to hydrate babies up to 6 months in age.
Avoiding Unnecessary Chemicals
A newborn’s skin is susceptible. If the skin comes into contact with chemicals, such as perfumes or soaps with fragrances, it can become irritated.
Choosing Appropriate Clothing
In addition to washing a baby with fragrance-free soaps, parents should clean a baby’s clothing in detergents that do not contain unnecessary fragrances.
This can help to prevent secondary exposure to these chemicals. You might want to check out My Baby Nursery’s biggest range of the best baby clothing.
People should also choose soft, loose-fitting clothes made of natural materials for babies as these are less likely to irritate or put pressure on the skin.
Keeping the Baby Comfortable
Part of the treatment for the newborn’s peeling skin involves keeping the baby as comfortable as possible. This may include soothing them and helping them to find positions that avoid putting pressure on the peeling skin.
Is My Newborn’s Peeling Skin Painful?
A common concern among new parents is that their baby is experiencing pain or discomfort from peeling skin. After all, newborn skin peeling can look a bit odd and might lead a parent to believe it’s painful.
Well, we have great news for you! It’s not painful at all. As we just mentioned, all newborns have to peel skin in their first month outside the womb.
It’s not only normal; it’s necessary. Your baby needs to develop a new, more robust layer of skin that’s more suitable for their unique environment outside of mom’s belly.
Even in severe cases of newborn skin peeling, infants probably don’t even notice that it’s happening.
It’s not something that they feel or are affected by. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take special care of your baby’s skin.
While newborn skin peeling is perfectly normal and doesn’t require a visit to the doctor, you should know that other baby skin conditions might.
Dress Your Baby in the Right Clothing
Not only is it essential to wash your baby’s clothes in gentle detergents, but it’s also essential that you dress your baby in the proper clothing.
Choose to clothe made from soft, gentle fabrics that won’t rub or irritate your newborn’s peeling skin.
Don’t dress your little one in clothing that’s too tight, as tight clothing can prevent your baby’s skin from breathing, possibly leading to irritation and rashes. Opt for loose-fitting clothing instead.
Lastly, when the weather is chilly, dress your baby in several thin layers rather than one or two heavy layers.
Babies tend to get hot (and cold) quickly, so multiple rounds of layering and delayering may be necessary to keep your child comfortable and content.
Choose the Right Products for Your Baby
We’ve already explained how important it is to choose baby-friendly cleansers, shampoos, moisturisers, and detergents. But the list doesn’t stop there! Many other products may contain harmful chemicals that will irritate and inflame your baby’s delicate skin.
For instance, many sunscreens contain harmful ingredients that are not safe for infants.
These types of sunscreens (and other products with unsafe added chemicals) are not helpful when caring for a newborn with peeling skin. Mineral sunscreens are a much better alternative.
You should always use hypoallergenic skin care products made with natural ingredients on your newborn. Using safe, baby-friendly products will make a big difference for your newborn’s peeling skin.
Give Your Newborn Plenty of Fluids
On average, newborns need to eat every 90 to 120 minutes. And the only thing babies can consume in their first few months of life is breast milk and baby formula.
These liquids contain all the nutrients your bundle of joy needs to stay healthy and continue growing. That said, make sure you’re feeding your baby often enough. This will not only keep your baby healthy and happy, but it will also ensure that they’re hydrated.
A well-hydrated baby means well-hydrated skin, which can help clear up any peeling.
Keep Your Newborn Comfortable
This is one of the most important things you can do to treat your newborn’s peeling skin. If your little one seems uncomfortable because of their peeling skin, try to make them as comfy and happy as possible. Change table for baby nursery have you stressing? Look no further, My Baby Nursery have you covered with our extensive range of baby change tables.