Caring for Our Tiny tot's little red spots
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Caring for Our Tiny tot's little red spots

As a first time parent, it is devastating to see your little one's body covered with those red spots and rashes all over the body. Undoubtedly, there is no feeling as magical as touching a baby’s skin. It feels good and smells mesmerizing. But little did we know that the brand new epidermis is prone to so many rashes and bumps and we learned it our own hard way. Babies, especially newborns have a very sensitive skin. Although most of the baby blemishes are not painful and itchy and often disappear on its own, some may need medical intervention. A newborn's skin is different from that of an adult. Once the baby is born, there is a sudden change from the intrauterine environment to external environment which can cause irritations to the baby's skin.

My son developed red spots all over his body when he was just twenty days old. As a first time parent, we did what we did the best - freaking out! Although my mother told us that this is very common with newborns, the next day we took him to the pediatrician. The doctor examined my son with just a glance and was so calm that it made me doubt his well framed degree which was hanging on the wall behind him. He told us it is called baby acne and requires no intervention. However, he asked us to stop doing “maalish" so that it does not get aggravated. He explained to us how baby's upper layer of skin that we call epidermis is not well developed and how an infant does not need any kind of application on its skin. On our way back home, we knew that we have to be ready to fight a battle because telling our moms that the baby should not be massaged with oil was nothing less than a battle. But we had to do it. Eventually the red spots started subsiding gradually. Another instance that happened when my son was 5 months old; he developed dry rashes on his back. Thanks to Dr. Google, I was freaking out (yet again) thinking my son has developed eczema. My husband is a savior (I always knew he is smarter than me) we visited a doctor who confirmed it was not eczema and was a fungal infection which too subsided with treatment. As a new parent it is very likely to get worried about every little thing that happens to our babies and skin eruptions are the first thing to happen soon after birth. With my son, some or the other skin issues have always been there. It was like one gets better, and the other appears. This made me do some fair amount of research which I feel glad to share with my fellow parents.

There are different kinds of skin blemishes and rashes. However, the most common ones being;

  • Baby Acne - It looks like little red spots all over the face and the body. Baby acne is mostly not itchy and hence does not cause any irritation to the newborn. It usually clears on its own. All that is required is to clean baby's face during bath time. Babies have sensitive skin and hence they require certain principles of skin care being adhered to such as cleansing, moisturizing and adequate hydration. It is a common practice and many midwives and pediatrician are of the opinion that nothing should be used on baby's skin for first 5-6 weeks. Usually all the baby products sound too tempting to not use them, but it can create havoc with baby's skin. What is suitable to an adult does not necessarily mean that it will suit a baby too. Washing every cloth that will come in contact with the baby is very important as well. When we choose products and clothing for our baby, we must see that soaps and cleansers are mild and fragrance free; and clothing should be made of natural fibers. Unlike adults, babies do not need a bath every day. Three times a week is more than sufficient for babies and each bathing session should not last for more than 4-5 minutes. The more the baby is in the water, the more it loses the moisture and natural oils.
  • Diaper rash - Perhaps, the most common occurring after baby acne. It looks like red patches in the diaper area. The sensitive skin near the baby's diaper area gets affected due to its close contact with urine and poop in diapers. Although the new age diapers are super absorbent to prevent moisture but it can happen anytime and for many reasons for example if the baby is suffering from diarrhea and needs constant cleaning of that area. Few measures that can be taken to prevent this is to change the baby's diaper often and keeping the area dry after each cleaning session. It is also advisable to give baby some diaper free time throughout the day.
  • Prickly heat - My son, since the day he was born prefers to be in a cold environment. During his first summer, he developed red bumps on his back and chest. Those were itchy too. I soon realized that it is due to heat as he used to sweat a lot. In this case, it is good to keep the baby as cool and dry as possible. Just like prickly heat harms adults, it harms babies too. It is a wrong notion that babies should always be kept covered with loads of blanket because they should not catch cold. Babies should be dressed up according to the weather. In this case, it is important to keep baby in a cool environment to soothe him and to prevent further aggravation.
  • Eczema - In the first year of baby's life, their skin is highly sensitive making it prone to different kinds of acne to eczema. Eczema is a condition where baby has extremely dry skin. In medical terms it is also known as ‘Atopic Dermatitis’. It causes extreme itching. Hence it is advisable to keep the nails of the babies trimmed so that scratching doesn't lead to aggravation. Although it cannot be cured; but it can be controlled by treatment and lifestyle changes.
  • Cradle Cap - This is a common term for ‘seborrheic dermatitis’ which is known as dandruff in adults. In the initial few months, it is very common to see dry patches on baby's scalp. It usually goes on its own. It has nothing to do with cleanliness, it just happens. For me, washing with a mild shampoo or applying baby hair oil on the dry flakes worked. It helped keeping the scalp clean and prevented recurrence. It happened in the first four months. Thereafter, it gradually subsided on its own.

Skin is the most susceptible part of baby’s body. While in the womb, many organs develop early, skin is the last to form and even after birth, it takes time to mature. Therefore it requires extra diligence. Any product for the baby should have a mild fragrance or no fragrance and should be mild. The pH level should be pH7 or pH neutral. A pH level is a scale to measure the acidity or the alkalinity of a product. A value less than pH 7 is acidic and more is alkaline in nature. As baby’s skin is sensitive, it is important to check the pH level of any product before application. If your baby has dry skin, you must do a patch test before any kind of application. Usually, babies don't need any intervention in their skin. Unlike adults, baby acne does not even need much medication. The key is to let them be as they are, ensuring basic hygiene. For me, the best way to pamper my baby's skin is to keep him clean and hydrated. It is very important to choose the right product when it comes to your baby. Post my doctor’s advice, I saw that I do not need to apply anything at all to my baby’s skin for the first 6 weeks; thereafter as and when whatever required. Every baby has a different kind of skin. It is firstly important to assess what kind of skin your baby has whether it’s normal or dry. Babies with dry skin need extra care. The recent studies show that the number of children having skin disorders is rising alarmingly. It may be because we are becoming a generation where chemicals are found in everything that we use at home today unlike the olden times where things were natural. It is at times difficult to gauge what exactly is causing a certain condition. It is better to eliminate use of any products then and to see whether it heals then. Although most of the conditions heal on its own, but if the condition doesn’t seem to get better, visiting a doctor will be the right move. The tiny tots cannot express their distress, we have to look for signs and do whatever is best possible to keep them rash free.

Watch Dr. Indu Khosla talk about the skin issues concerning babies and breaking the myths about it:

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