How to tackle common baby skin conditions

How to tackle common baby skin conditions

A skin condition was a nightmare for this new mum, whose bub was endlessly itchy

How to tackle common baby skin conditions

Sydney mum-of-two Mel Overman had just brought home her first child, a beautiful baby boy called Henry, when she noticed a dry red rash on his face and behind his joints.

“He had it badly and being a first-time mum, I had no idea what it was or how to treat it. It was quite stressful, I could tell he was in discomfort,” she tells Kidspot.

Henry had eczema, which got worse during the hot summer months.

“It looked quite angry. I assume it was itchy and quite sore but you don’t know. Babies can’t tell you how they’re feeling. I don’t know what caused it, but there were definitely things that aggravated it like heat and different soaps and his clothes,” she says.

“You freak out, your mind immediately jumps to the absolute worst thing. Being a new mum, I’d never even heard of eczema to be honest, so I had to do a lot of research to understand it.”

Fortunately, the rash eventually cleared up after a visit to the doctor and a bit of trial and error with skin creams. Henry is now rash-free and about to celebrate his third birthday.

Looking back, Mel says it’s hard for new mums because you don’t want to do anything wrong.

“You’re tired and emotional enough before you throw a skin condition in there! It was almost embarrassing too, going to mothers’ group. People didn’t want their kids to go near him even though it’s not contagious. Of course, they don’t know that. They’re just protective of their babies.”

Here’s a quick guide to some common skin conditions new mums will face:

Mother hands changing baby nappy. Mother putting diaper on her hispanic son lying in nursery. Close up of mother giving baby diaper change at home.

Nappy rash (1)

Nappy rash occurs when the baby’s sensitive skin has been in contact with a wet nappy too long.

The best way to prevent it is to change the baby’s nappy after each feed at the very least and to give the baby some nappy-free time several times a day. You can let them kick for a few minutes without a nappy between changes. Just make sure you but don’t leave them unattended on the change table!

To protect your baby’s bottom, you can also apply a thick layer of zinc and castor oil cream or a natural product such as paw paw ointment a few times a day, especially before long sleeps. If it doesn’t improve, see your pharmacist or child health nurse.  

Cradle cap comb removing bathe

Cradle cap (2)

Cradle cap is a form of dermatitis cause by inflammation of the oil glands in the skin.

This results in a build-up of natural oils and dry skin, which can cause redness and form a yellow or brown crust on the baby’s head, eyebrows or behind the ears. It most commonly affects babies under three months, but it’s not infectious.

To remove the crusts, you can massage sorbolene and glycerine lotion or olive oil into the affected area twice a day and gently wash the affected area with warm water. Use a soft towel to dry the baby’s head and remove any loose scales.

You can also try to prevent cradle cap massaging your baby’s scalp and gently brushing their head with soft bristles like those on a toothbrush, even if they don’t have much hair just yet. If it doesn’t clear after a few weeks or the skin under the scales is red and weeping, see your pharmacist or child health nurse.

Female hand applying the cream on baby's face

Eczema (3)

Eczema is a skin irritation that appears as patches of dry, red, scaly skin which may become moist.

It most often appears on the baby’s face, behind the ears, around their neck, behind their knees and on the inside of their elbows. The causes are unknown, but it can run in families and may be linked with other allergic diseases.

It can be aggravated by things like scratchy or tight clothes, woollens and synthetics, strong soap, perfumed creams and lotions, dust mites, overheating and dry air.

First, dress your baby in light, soft, loose cotton clothes. You can also use lukewarm water in the bath and stick to sorbolene and glycerine lotion instead of soap at bath time.

When you put them on the floor, pop a cotton sheet underneath and make sure you vacuum regularly. If your baby scratches their face, use jumpsuits which have fold-over cuffs to act as mittens. If the eczema does not get better, ask your doctor for a referral to a paediatric dermatologist.

Brought to you byChildren’s Panadol, helping new mums through the first five years of parenthood. Click here to find out more.