Dry skin is actually fairly common for infants but under-recognized, says a recent Johnson’s Baby study. We all imagine baby’s skin to be smooth, soft and amazing to smell. To the naked eye it might not look dry. But in reality, it can be very dry and sensitive and most often moms are unable to tell until the problem becomes more serious and needs medical attention.
In a recent survey conducted by Johnson’s Baby in the Middle East, a surprising 80% of mothers did not know that their baby’s skin was dry.
Signs of a dry baby skin
The most common signs of dry baby skin are peeling and flaking of the skin but sometimes it is just the feel of the skin when you touch it. If your baby seems to be itchy, keep an eye on the areas where the little one is scratching.
Just a simple cosmetic issue or a more complex problem?
Despite the common belief, skin conditions are not simple cosmetic issues, especially not for babies. The skin is the largest organ of the body, with vital functions in protecting the baby against infections, water loss and the penetration of irritants and allergens.
Dry skin can make the baby uncomfortable and fussy and if it’s left untreated it can lead to skin irritation and compromise the skin barrier. Your baby’s skin barrier is the first line of defense from the outside world. To remain healthy, it is important for the skin to remain properly hydrated.
Is your baby’s skin more sensitive than yours?
Baby’s skin is so delicate and sensitive that, unfortunately, it is even more prone to becoming dry and irritated than adult skin. After birth, infant skin suffers a progressive adaptation to the external environment and until it is fully developed, it needs special care and protection. In fact, the skin still continues to develop beyond the age of 2 years old.
On average, baby skin is up to 30 % thinner than adult skin and it loses moisture up to 2 times faster than an adults. Baby skin also has a more neutral pH level, resulting in reduced protection. In the first few weeks of life, certain factors such as the development of skin flora (microorganisms which reside on the skin), and other skin regulating mechanisms lower its initial pH value. The defense of the acid mantle against harmful microorganisms does not work adequately during the first few months.
Is baby skin dryness an even bigger problem in the Middle East?
It does seem so, and there are many factors contributing to this. The heat, humidity and constant exposure to air conditioning during the long summer months in the Middle East can all affect the skin’s health. Cold and dry outdoor air can also deprive skin of its natural moisture in the winter time.
The desalinated tap water in the region is also particularly harsh on baby’s skin. Hard water can often lead to different forms of skin dryness and irritation.
Could dry skin be a sign of some other kind of condition?
If your child has itchy red patches on their skin, it could be a sign of eczema, otherwise known as atopic dermatitis. Sometimes eczema will clear up with proper moisturizing.
However, if the patches don’t get better or your child seems itchy or uncomfortable despite your efforts it Is a good idea to visit the doctor.