Your baby's oh-so-soft skin faces threats from hormones, heat and germs in the out-of-womb world. Take our quiz to find out how prepared you are to handle the harshness your little one's delicate skin can be exposed to.
Yes, your baby experiences mini puberty, thanks to the hormones you have passed on to him in the last term and continue to pass through breast milk. "These hormones send oil-producing glands of the face into overdrive and cause skin eruptions that appear like little white bumps on the cheeks and nose," says Dr Avind Taneja, Prevention advisor and director and chief, Paediatric Services, Max Super Speciality Hospital. These are painless and clear up on their own by six months. Consult your paediatician if these look particularly inflamed to rule out other possible rash.
No, "in fact, sunlight helps your baby make much-needed Vitamin D (and cures infantile jaundice)," says Dr Meena Malkani, consultant paediatrician, Jaslok Hospital & Research Centre, Mumbai. But exposing him to harsh mid-day sunlight may harm his delicate skin. "So choose the time of the day with care, let him stretch himself and play in the early morning sunlight for 10-15 minutes and then later before sunset," she adds.
No, there's no scientific evidence to prove this. "In fact, a vigorous massage may actually cause friction on the baby's skin leading to micro abrasions that may result in irritation and even infection," says Malkani. Malish walis usually don't have the cleanest of hands and nails. Also, often their palms are dry and scaly that may, in fact, be rough on your newborn's delicate skin. "It's a good idea to massage your baby with a neutral oil (baby oil, coconut oil, olive oil) on your own. Keep the strokes as gentle as possible, " she adds. This actually acts like tactile stimulation for your baby, and offers large doses of the magical mom's touch. "In summer, apply the oil half an hour to an hour before his bath. In winter, apply the oil right after the bath to trap moisture and keep his skin supple," suggests Taneja.
Yes, combine overactive oil glands, skin cell debris and yeast that feeds on it and you get a not-so-pretty headgear for your baby-crusty, oily, scaly patches on his scalp. "A harmless condition, it can be managed by shampooing baby's hair 2 to 3 times a week," says Malkani. You may use a very soft bristled brush to remove the flakes, but be gentle. Remember though, cradle cap may recur through the first six months. "If your baby is itchy and irritable, tell your doc. He may prescribe an anti-fungal and mild steroid lotion to fix it," she adds.
Yes, these tiny red (and painful!) bumps are caused by wetness combined with irritation. A wet or soiled diaper rubbing against your baby's skin triggers this flare up. "The only way to prevent it is to check baby's diaper frequently (every 2-3 hours), change soiled ones immediately, pat his bottom dry and let him spend some diaper-free time to let his bottom breathe," says Malkani. "If your little one gets a diaper rash, your doc will prescribe a medicated ointment containing salicylic acid to treat it." Watch out-sometimes, untreated diaper rash can get super infected with candida, which doesn't let it heal. "Your doc will suggest using anti-fungal cream on the affected area a couple of times during the day to cure it," says Taneja.
No, prickly heat is caused by excessive sweating, when the mouth of the sweat gland gets blocked due to the salt in the sweat. And your baby needn't be out in the sun to sweat. "Warm and humid temperatures, tight fitting clothes and synthetic fabrics trap the heat and make your baby sweat causing the rash," says Taneja. "Remember, talcum powders neither help to prevent nor treat prickly heat." You can prevent prickly heat from erupting and bothering your little one by dressing him in loose fitting, soft cotton clothes and avoiding sweaty conditions. "You can treat it with baths in normal water as often as necessary to wash off the salt. Finish it off with a very gentle scrub with a dry towel to uncover the mouth of the sweat gland," adds Taneja.
No, "these bluish grey patches, typically seen on the buttocks, flanks, calves and elbows, are actually intra-uterine pressure points," explains Malkani. "It's a non-pathological, non-worrying condition. The spots disappear on their own at 2 to 3 years of age."
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