Skin irritations in babies

There’s nothing quite like the softness of a baby’s skin and we know that you’ll want to protect that softness for as long as possible. But babies’ skin is naturally more sensitive than that of adults, and it can easily become dry, sore, flaky and everything in between. That’s why Bepanthen is here to give you a helping hand in caring for your precious little one.

Causes of skin irritation in babies

One in two babies will experience problems with their skin. From nappy rash to scaling, blemishes to rashes, all babies’ skin irritations stem from the same common problem: the skin barrier becoming damaged.

Newborn baby feet

There are many reasons why the skin barrier is so sensitive among babies, including:

  • Babies’ skin is thinner than adults’ skin, meaning irritants and other aggressors can permeate more easily.
  • The surface of your baby’s skin is very large relative to his or her weight, so there’s more scope for irritations.
  • Until three months old, your baby’s skin has a higher pH than adults’ skin.
  • Babies’ skin is still adjusting to life outside of the womb, so it’s more vulnerable to sunlight and the friction of rough fabrics.
  • Babies tend to sweat a lot, as their internal temperature is changing – this sweat can irritate the skin.

Preventing skin irritation in babies
with baby ointment and more

Here are some quick tips for you:

  • Keep baths short and infrequent, and make sure the water isn’t too hot.
  • Avoid soap.
  • Only use products specially formulated for babies.
  • Pat your baby’s skin dry, never rub.
  • Wrap your baby up warm in cold weather.
  • Use a gentle laundry detergent when washing baby clothes.
  • Keep your baby well hydrated.
  • Keep your baby's fingernails trimmed so they can’t scratch any dry patches.

Skin irritations in babies are extremely common and you’ve probably done nothing wrong. But you can help minimise the risk by following three simple prevention steps:

Parent applying barrier cream to baby's arms and hands.

1. Choose your baby products carefully

  • Mum massaging baby.
  • Ask your midwife, GP or health visitor to recommend baby products.
  • Try to look for products that are free from alcohol, colours, preservatives or fragrances.
  • Only use products that have been specially formulated for babies.
  • For general skincare try emollients as they generally contain less sensitisers, e.g. fragrances, than cosmetic moisturisers and they also provide deep moisturisation.
  • Any products that you use should be very mild and pH neutral.
  • Look for products that have been clinically tested.

A tight nappy can worsen a nappy rash, as it both rubs the skin (removing the skin’s protective lipids) and prevents air circulation. If left untreated, this can even lead to fungal infections such as candida albicans (thrush). Some baby wipes and cleaning products can also cause irritation.

2. Maintain a good bathing routine

  • It is essential that your baby's skin is always clean, but many experts do not recommend a daily bath, which can dry out the skin. Instead, clean the face, hands and buttocks with cotton wool and clean, lukewarm water every day.
  • When you do bathe your baby, use pH neutral, fragrance-free products that have been specially formulated for babies.
  • Make sure the bath water is lukewarm, if it’s too hot it will irritate your baby’s skin.
  • After bathing, always use an emollient or moisturiser specially formulated for baby which should be applied gently to your baby’s whole body with clean hands or cotton wool.

Bepanthen Ointment contains deeply moisturising provitamin B5, which helps the skin’s natural recovery. It can also:

3. Maintain good nappy practice

  • Use high quality disposable nappies instead of washable cloth nappies, as the former are associated with less frequent and less severe nappy rash.
  • Change your baby’s nappy frequently, and immediately when soiled.
  • Use a nappy ointment during every nappy change, especially at night time when the nappy is likely to be on for the longest. Applying a thin layer to the bottom and genitals can protect the baby's sensitive skin from the causes of nappy rash at night. Look for products that contains pro-vitamin B5, which forms a protective transparent layer on the skin to prevent further irritation. Bepanthen Ointment is also free from colorants, parabens, fragrances and preservatives.
Baby bottom cream is a good way to avoid skin irritation.

If your baby is less than a year old…

Your newborn baby’s skin is especially sensitive at this time and will need specialised protection. Bepanthen Ointment is so gentle that it can be used from birth to help the most delicate skin, even of premature babies, as it’s free from fragrance, preservatives, colorants or antiseptics. Bepanthen Ointment is an easy to apply and breathable barrier cream that helps protect your baby’s bottom from the causes of nappy rash and to keep little bottoms happy and protected.