Baby lying on a bed

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 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

Newborn baby's feet

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.

There are many reasons why the skin barrier is so sensitive in 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 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 irritations in babies

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
  • Don’t overheat your house
  • Wrap your baby up warm in cold weather
  • Use a gentle laundry detergent
  • 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:

1. Choose your baby products carefully

Mum massaging baby
  • Ask your midwife, GP or health visitor to recommend you baby products
  • Try to look for products that are free from alcohol, colors, preservatives or fragrances
  • Only use products that have been specially formulated for babies, such as Bepanthen Nappy Care Ointment, which meet the nine standards for barrier protection * (as judged by an expert international panel of paediatric dermatologists)
  • 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

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 Baby Moisturiser contains deeply moisturising provitamin B5, which helps the skin’s natural recovery. It also:

  • Prevents dryness
  • Soothes
  • Gentle enough to be used on new born babies and babies with sensitive skin

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
  • Change your baby’s nappy immediately when soiled
  • Use Bepanthen Nappy Care Ointment after every nappy change, especially at night time when the nappy is on for the longest. Applying a thin layer to the bottom and genitals will protect the baby's sensitive skin from the causes of nappy rash at night. It contains pro-vitamin B5, which forms a protective transparent layer on the skin to prevent further irritation. Bepanthen Nappy Care Ointment is also free from colorants, parabens, fragrances and preservatives.

If your baby is less than a year old…

Baby getting nappy changed

Your new baby’s skin is especially sensitive at this time, and will need specialised protection. Bepanthen Nappy Care 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 Nappy Care Ointment is an easy to apply and breathable barrier cream that helps protect your baby’s bottom from the causes of nappy rash and help to keep little bottoms happy and protected.

* Atherton 2015, Irritant Diaper Dermatitis: Best practice management