BABIES, with their delicate skin, are prone to certain common skin conditions, most of which will resolve on their own. It's important that you know how to identify each, and know how to treat them.
Here are five of the most common skin conditions in babies.
Infantile seborrhoeic dermatitis, otherwise called cradle cap, is a common condition seen in babies. It can be described as crusty, greasy, scaly patches on the baby's scalp and may even appear in small patches on other areas of the skin such as the face.
The flaky or scaly patches may be yellow or brownish in colour, and the underlying skin, often red, is usually mistaken for dandruff.
The exact cause of the condition still remains unknown, but there is a high possibility that cradle cap is hormonal. Cradle cap is thought to be as a result of excessive production of sebum or oil from the oil glands as a result of hormones produced by the mother in the latter part of pregnancy. It may also be associated with a fungal infection, but it is harmless and will resolve over a few months.
Treatment includes washing the baby's hair and scalp with a gentle shampoo, and applying oils such as olive oil before washing as this lifts the scales or flakes off the scalp.
Baby acne, according to the Mayo Clinic, is acne that develops on a newborn's skin. Baby acne can occur anywhere on the face, but usually appears on the cheeks, nose and forehead. Baby acne is common and there's little you can do to prevent it. Baby acne usually clears up on its own, without scarring.
Baby acne is usually characterised by small red or white bumps on a baby's cheeks, nose and forehead. It often develops within the first two to four weeks after birth.
Because baby acne typically disappears on its own within several months, no medical treatment is usually recommended. If your baby's acne lingers for much longer, your baby's doctor may recommend a medicated cream or other treatment.
Among the most common types of rashes affecting children is heat rash, also referred to as prickly heat. This skin rash, scientifically named Miliaria, is caused by blockage of the sweat glands in the skin at various levels. It is quite common in babies and children, including those who are highly active outdoors.
The rashes tend to cluster most commonly in locations of the upper body, especially the face and neck.
While the child may seem to experience some obvious discomfort, most cases of Miliaria do not require treatment. However, triggers, once identified, must be removed wherever possible. In addition, since children tend to scratch these areas which may sometimes result in irritation and inflammation, then you have to be on the lookout for a secondary skin infection.
Some treatments include choosing looser clothing, preferably cotton, for the baby or children so the skin can breathe and the heat is not trapped; using calamine lotion to help to reduce irritation of the skin and reduce the possible associated discomfort; and if the rash is severe, your doctor may recommend that you use hydrocortisone cream.
Diaper rash can be described as a rash that is located on the buttocks of an infant, characterised by redness, irritation and inflammation, which cause discomfort.
Common causes of diaper rash include ill-fitting and tight diapers, which can predispose to chafing and irritation of the skin; prolonged contact with stool and/or urine; conditions such as diarrhoea or frequent bowel movements; sensitivity of skin to products such as lotions, powders, wipes, diapers, as well as detergents and fabric softeners used to launder cloth diapers; sensitive skin conditions such as dermatitis or eczema; and with the introduction of complementary foods and solids there may be a noted increase in diaper rash as the chemical contents of stool changes.
Prevention and treatment methods include frequent diaper changes even if only soiled with urine; using appropriate-sized diapers; airing and/or patting dry the infant's buttocks if possible; and using a barrier cream which can be zinc oxide or petroleum-based.
This is characterised by itchy skin and generally starts as early as a few weeks to a year into a child's life.
The condition is more commonly known as eczema, atopic eczema or dermatitis, and causes intense itching. In addition, the appearance of the skin also can be very concerning because of associated rashes and lesions.
The condition in most cases is genetic, and may be associated with conditions such as asthma. It affects specific sections of the body at different ages and stages.
In young babies, it usually appears first on the cheeks, scalp and forehead as dry, scaly patches. Another presentation, however, is that of bumps which may resemble small fluid-filled blisters which may ooze. These are at risk for becoming infected. In older children, the itchy, scaly rashes become more localised to the skin folds or creases of the elbows and knees, neck, ankles and wrists.
The condition, which is chronic in nature, could see children with severe forms of the condition having a leather-like thickening of the skin in the areas affected, as well as the appearance of pimples. The skin may also crack and bleed.
In general, the condition commonly improves with time. The key to managing atopic dermatitis is moisturising. You also want to avoid triggers such as extremes of temperature, perfumes and soaps commonly present in laundry detergents, soaps and skin care products. Stress is also notorious for triggering flare-ups and should be limited as much as possible.