The first article on infant skin care was apparently a big hit with you guys–over one thousand page views and counting! Well I thought I’d dig a little deeper and talk about common skin issues babies have.
Babies are weird little creatures. Having spent nine months swimming in Mom’s hormones, they’re sometimes born with nipples leaking milk and/or acne. Then there’s the cradle cap, diaper rash, etc. Don’t panic, babies have skin issues too.
A few years back a friend had a baby boy. She called me one night crying because she said his penis was falling off. I rushed over and we compared his equipment to the picture in the baby book of what a recently circumcised penis should look like. His looked much angrier–definitely emergency room worthy–so off we went. They were already laughing when we got there.
Are you the lady with the baby whose penis is falling off? the nurse asked.
Before deciding on circumcision for your baby boy, consider that there is a risk of infection, a reaction to the local anesthetic, and/or the rare case of it being completely botched. If you decide to go ahead with it, once home remove the dressing (usually it’s gauze and petroleum jelly) with warm compresses 24 hours after the circumcision was done.
Clean the baby’s bottom as you normally would with a diaper wipe. Then put a good amount of ointment in the front of the diaper and aim it for the penis to prevent the new delicate skin from sticking to the diaper. If any special gauze was used the doctor will tell you when and if you need to remove it.
When should you call the doctor?
- The urine comes out in dribbles
- The head of the penis turns blue or black
- The incision line bleeds more than a few drops
- The circumcision looks infected
- Your baby develops a fever
- Your baby is acting sick
Baby acne is caused by exposure to the mother’s hormones. Angry red bumps, sometimes with white dots in the center, may be seen on a newborn’s face. Acne usually occurs between 2 and 4 weeks of age, but may appear up to 4 months after birth and can last for 12 – 18 months. The best thing to do is nothing. If it persists after the fourth month, see your pediatrician.
Cradle cap is a form of seborrheic dermatitis. It is characterized by yellow scales which are caused by overactive sebaceous glands. When the oil dries, it flakes. It can occur even if you bath and shampoo your baby everyday. As well as the head, cradle cap can appear on the eyebrows, eyelids, behind the ears, and side of the nose, and in the groin area. Cradle cap usually clears up by the time a child reaches eight to twelve months of age.
The conventional treatment for cradle cap is an antiseborrheic shampoo such as Sebulex, Ionil, or tar shampoo. If the condition persists a doctor may recommend a steroid cream or ointment such as triamcinolone or hydrocortisone.
As for diet, a nursing mother should avoid saturated animal fats. Eat fish for essential fatty acids and include evening primrose oil or borage oil supplements in your daily vitamin regimen. Also avoid refined sugar.
If it is a resistant case of cradle cap, apply a vitamin B6 cream to your infant’s scalp twice a day for two to three days. To rule out a nutritional deficiency, give your child a multiple vitamin and mineral supplement formulated for infants.
Umbilical Cord Care
Once the baby is born, the umbilical cord is no longer needed and is clamped off close to the navel a few minutes after birth. The clamp helps stop bleeding from the three blood vessels in the umbilical cord – two arteries and one vein. A medication is applied to the cord as part of a baby’s first care. This may be a purple dye or another type of antiseptic.
Once home, the cord begins to dry and wither. The clamp can be removed when the cord is completely dry. Infection can enter the baby’s body through the cord so it must be care for properly. Your doctor will give you instructions, but many recommend using plain water and allowing it to air dry. Many new born diapers have a special cut-out for the cord area, but if not, just fold down the top edge to expose the navel.
Never try to pull the cord off, and don’t be concerned if your child is an outtie.
Call your baby’s doctor if:
- bleeding from the end of the cord or the area near the skin
- pus (a yellow or white discharge)
- swelling or redness around the navel
- signs that the navel area is painful to your baby
My friends son? He turned out just fine, although it looked much worse than the one in the picture.