Having a newborn kid comes along with enormous excitement and frustrations all the same. Delivering a child isn’t the only challenge. More challenges come in the process of caring for your newborn, especially if you notice unexplained health conditions, such as baby skin peeling.
Being a newborn, peeling of the skin is something you should expect. However, the condition puts many parents in a shock. Most parents can’t tell whether the peeling is normal or not.
Most mothers concur that this is a common problem. It might be a seasonal phenomenon that goes away within days or last longer. This, therefore, tells you that you shouldn’t get worked out over it unless it persists for a longer time.
A few weeks or days after birth, the baby’s physical appearance may change. These changes affect different parts of the body including the eyes, hair, and skin that may start peeling off or even get lighter or darker.
What about the newborn skin peeling?
According to Theasianparent.com, understanding the causes is essential in treating and preventing it. If you ask dermatologists and pediatricians, they will tell you that this is something is normal. Once exposed to the outside world, his or her birth skin turns dry and flaky.
As the body tries to adapt to this new environment, the flakes shed off. You know why it becomes flaky? This is simply an indication of dehydration or lack of natural oils that moisturize it.
Before your it starts peeling, it first becomes flaky. The tissues on the dermis die and peel off. Before this happens, you may also note some of the following symptoms on the baby’s skin
- It may become scaly
- Some redness may be noticed
- White plagues, especially between fingers
- It may, especially on the feet becomes tender
- It may also become crusty
If you note any of the above symptoms, then expect your baby skin to peel any time. Sometimes, this process is natural, and you can’t prevent it. Some people argue that babies must shed the initial skin and grow a new resilient one.
When is it normal or abnormal?
According to many pediatricians, skin peeling among babies is purely normal. It is can happen with fingers and toes. It can also be on the face or even the arms. In short, it doesn’t have a specific target.
According to Mustelausa.com, infant skin peeling occurs within the first two or three weeks after delivery. This is just an adaptive mechanism. Once outside the womb, the primary skin cannot survive in the new environment.
The main cause of this peeling is exposure to dry and cold air. In this case, the original skin is not resilient enough to withstand the harsh environment outside the womb. To adjust to this new life, it will automatically peel off.
This tells you one thing; stop getting worried. You should instead focus on how to prevent the peeling or treat it if possible.
Reasons why baby’s peeling occurs
According to Theasianparent.com, newborn baby skin peeling is attributed to 3 main factors:
Transition to the new world
When the baby is in the womb, it is highly protected against any harm. Some of the fluids that offer protection include vernix, blood, and amniotic fluid.
Have you ever heard of vernix caseosa? It is the wax-like substance that covers your baby’s skin in the womb. This cover also offers protection a few weeks after delivery.
Vernix is made of sebum and chains of fatty acids. Other substances that make vernix include ceramides and cholesterol. It serves as a skin moisturizer. When the baby is born, he is protected from environmental stress by vernix.
Unfortunately, vernix does not last forever. Within the first 3 weeks from birth, vernix not only moisturizes your baby’s skin but also fights off bacteria that may cause infections. After the third week, it is shed off.
Without vernix, the body must be shed off the initial baby skin and develop a stronger one that can withstand environmental stress. As this process takes place, peeling starts.
Healthline.com notes that normal skin peeling should stop within a few weeks since its onset. By this time, a new one will have been generated. What if the peeling doesn’t stop?
If it does not stop, your baby might be suffering from ichthyosis. According to the Foundation for Ichthyosis and Related Skin Types, this is a genetic disorder. The condition is characterized by dryness and scaling of the skin.
This condition is noted at birth. In the USA alone, about 300 babies are born with this condition each year. Unlike the normal children, the ones with Ichthyosis will experience, dry, flaky and peel throughout.
If you note persistent skin peeling in your newborn, then consult a dermatologist. Although Ichthyosis is incurable, there are ways in which you can manage to reduce its severity.
Just like in Ichthyosis, eczema manifests itself in the form of persistent peeling of the baby’s skin. It is a common cause of dryness and peeling. It is at times referred to as atopic dermatitis by most dermatologists.
According to Mayo Clinic, atopic dermatitis is common in children. Apart from peeling, the skin also gets itchy and red. Before concluding whether your child has this condition or not, please observe the following symptoms on the skin:
- It becomes extremely dry
- You may note some small raised bumps
- It gets scaly
- Due to scratching, it may get swollen and inflamed
- In some cases, the child may develop red patches
Eczema may not manifest within the first few weeks as in the case of ichthyosis. It may take even a year to manifest. However, its onset becomes a nightmare for the victims. It is one of the worst condition among babies.
Unlike ichthyosis, eczema neither has a cure nor home remedies. The good thing about it is the fact that it can disappear for some months before reappearing again. Keeping your skin clean and moisturized, however, can reduce the severity of eczema.
Can you prevent your baby’s skin from peeling?
According to Mayo Clinic, parents can prevent baby skins from peeling. Below are some of the practices that can help you in this:
- Don’t take too much time bathing your kid– Baby baths should not exceed 10 minutes. Longer baths can drain any oil left on your baby’s skin.
- Always bathe your baby with warm water – Never ever use hot water. Hot water is also known to make it flaky and dry. This dryness can cause this peeling problem.
- Check the soaps used – Only use recommended baby soaps. Some soap types are good irritants. They are likely to trigger irritation, thus causing it to peel.
- Keep the baby’s skin moisturized – As earlier noted, this problem is because of dry skin. To avoid dryness and flaking, apply creams and oils. For example, you can use newborn skin peeling coconut oil. When it is moisturized, the severity of peeling and flaking is highly reduced.
- Always keep your baby hydrated– You shouldn’t give your baby any water. However, comprehensive breastfeeding helps to keep your baby hydrated. For babies beyond 6 months, you should ensure frequent intake of fluids.
- Avoid contact with cold air– Research has shown that cold air is a leading cause of eczema and Ichthyosis. Therefore, always keep your baby covered with a towel or a blanket.
If you strictly observe these precautions and recommendations, you can manage baby skin peeling. This relief would give your child some comfort. If the peeling is because of vernix, then you expect the peeling to stop within days or weeks. If this it is caused by another condition, then be patient with your baby’s condition.
Article Citations and References
- Mayoclinic.org Atopic dermatitis (eczema)
- Theasianparent.com What you need to know about newborn peeling skin
- Healthline.com Why Is My Newborn’s Skin Peeling?
- Babycenter.com What to do about dry, flaky, peeling skin on a newborn
- Mustelausa.com Newborn Skin Peeling: What Causes It And How To Best Treat It