The colder months tend to play havoc with your infant’s tender skin. Swati Chopra Vikamsey lets you in on winter skin-care tips for your baby.
While you pile up the quilts and overwork the heaters, do you constantly worry about how to keep your little bundle of joy safe? Your baby’s skin is delicate, and this season is not kind. The extra layers of clothes does not help either. “Winter affects baby’s skin as much as it does an adult’s. But, since baby’s skin is thinner, more sensitive and vulnerable, it needs extra care and precaution,” says Dr Chiranjiv Chhabra, dermatologist, Skin Alive Clinics, Delhi.
Winter dryness may cause the skin to become scaly or lead to diaper rashes. “It can also cause frost bites on fingers and toes and chapped lips and cheeks,” says Dr Chhabra. “It is important to protect the baby’s skin in the harsh winter months because it is much more sensitive than an adult’s skin, and dryness and rashes appear more easily on baby’s skin—the protective covering of the body. A breech in this protective barrier can also predispose your baby to super-added infections if not kept under check,” adds Dr (Maj) Manish Mannan, consultant and coordinator, Paediatrics and Neonatology, Paras Hospitals.
Baby skin is thinner and more sensitive, says Dr Chhabra. “The use of heaters inside homes also causes the air to dry out and saps moisture from the environment in which the child stays.”
If the child has already underlying skin issues, they may also get aggravated during the colder months. Cradle cap or dandruff, for example, may become more severe during winter. “Contrary to the popular belief that baby’s hair needs to be oiled regularly, it is recommended that hair should be kept dry and clean in order to avoid cradle cap,” says Dr Mannan. “I generally advice oiling the hair for 30 minutes before a bath, and a good shampoo after that. Hair should be kept oil-free after the shampoo.”
Mothers should remember that babies feel a little more cold than adults and hence the heat loss from the skin is more rapid, hence adequate clothing is necessary. “Adequate clothing means multiple (generally three) layers and not just one thick cloth. Also, remember that over clothing the baby is harmful. Apart from causing rashes, additional clothes may also cause fever,” says Dr Mannan, and warns against traditional home remedies too. “We do not recommend using mustard oil on baby’s skin as it may cause the delicate skin to break out. Almond oil can be used for massage if it suits the skin of the baby. Ghee may be applied on dry lips, but ensure that it does not get inside the mouth of the baby. Always use an oil which suits your baby’s skin,” he says and suggests that gentle application is as important as the product.
Of course, what you apply on baby’s skin is of prime importance. “You cannot apply any cosmetic product or moisturiser recommended for adult usage. Only use products that are formulated for babies and contain mild ingredients,” suggests Dr Chhabra. He advices that in case of severely dry and dehydrated skin, emollients like Atogla cream or Evion cream can be used. “Keep the baby covered as much as possible with her fingers and toes unexposed. Take her out under the sun for at least a few minutes every day. This helps fight infections and gives the baby her regular supply of vitamin D. Apply moisturiser every time you wash the baby, including between diaper changes.”
Always remember that despite all this care if you notice a rash, patch or allergy, immediately consult a doctor to check if it is something serious. M&B
The expert opinion
DR MANNAN SUGGESTS THE FOLLOWING DOS AND DON’TS TO KEEP HER SKIN BABY-SOFT
• Cover your baby well to avoid heat loss, but at the same time, do not over cover. A good rule of thumb would be to clothe the baby in as many layers as the mum would need to keep warm, and then, add an extra layer.
• Before putting on woolens, make sure that the baby is wearing a soft layer of clothing inside, since direct contact with wool can cause rashes.
• Use a good moisturising cream that suits baby’s skin, especially after a bath.
• Bathe the baby with caution. You need to bathe her only twice a week in harsh winters.
• Baby’s skin has natural oils and the use of harsh soaps and repeated bathing in soapy water can cause the skin to dry. Water should be warm and not hot to avoid further dryness.
• Massage your baby two to three times a day with an oil that suits her skin. Keep the room warm while giving her a massage.
• Be very careful with diapers. Change them often because dirty diapers can cause a bad rash. When cleaning the diaper area, avoid wipes in the first few months and gently dab with cotton dipped in warm water.