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Soft touch

The skin of a newborn baby is only half as thick as the skin of an adult. Dr Manish K Shah’s tips on baby skin care.

health and fitness Updated: Jan 12, 2009 19:52 IST

The skin of a newborn baby is only half as thick as the skin of an adult. Certain medications applied over a large area of the body can be absorbed by the skin and enter the circulation.

The sweat glands are not well developed and are therefore prone to prickly heat. An infant’s immune system is immature and susceptible to infections. Here’s busting some baby skin care myths which are commonly in practice.

Myth 1: Oil massage for a newborn is a must.

Fact: The good thing about an oil massage is that touch strengthens the bonding between mother and baby. But an unhygienic bai rubbing the baby down with random oils is strictly no-no.

A bigger problem is persisting with it despite boils and prickly heat. Remember, an oil massage definitely does not produce strong bones.

Myth 2: The more you scrub skin with gram flour the better it is for the baby.
Fact: Gram flour (besan) can often irritate the baby’s tender skin causing redness and cracks. The belief is that a besan rub removes the fine body hair but that fades away over the years.

Myth 3: Baby care products are the panacea for baby skin.
Fact: Baby care products can cause allergies too. If in doubt let your dermatologist decide on the right products.
Some tips: Fewer the ingredients the better the product and unscented products are always safer.

Myth 4: Antiseptics are indispensable to stave off infections.
Fact: Antiseptics are the commonest cause of skin irritation in infants. Just washing the skin with regular soap and water is sufficient. Adding antiseptics to the bathwater and soaking clothes in this water is not a good idea. It can cause some nasty reactions. If the infection recurs, let your dermatologist suggest an appropriate plan of action.

Myth 5: Diapers are God’s gift for babies.
Fact: Diapers are actually a gift to parents so that they can enjoy themselves while the baby’s tender bottom is caked with excrement. Can you imagine yourself even for a few minutes in a diaper? If one has to use diapers, keep checking regularly and changing frequently. Using super absorbable diapers may help but thin cotton nappies, changed when wet,
are best.

Myth 6: Just proceed to the next task after breastfeeding the baby.
Fact: We commonly see fungal infection in the neck region, particularly in chubby infants. That’s because breast milk accumulates in the neck folds. Make it a point to wash the neck thoroughly and pat it dry every time the baby is fed. Also, ensure that you playfully tilt the baby’s chin up once in a while so the neck is stretched.

Myth 7: It is dirty to retract the foldable skin overlying the penis .
Fact: It is dirtier to not retract the foreskin and clean with water. If the skin does not go back and forth,
accumulation of secretion, infection and sometimes difficulty in urination may occur. Circumcised males are spared these problems.