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Paediatric Dermatology

Understand baby’s skin to take better care of it

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The skin of babies and children has specific characteristics that make it more fragile and more sensitive. It therefore requires special attention and care so it can remain healthy and adapt to its environment. It is also important to distinguish between the needs of an infant up to the age of three months, a baby up to the age of three years, and a child, from the age of around three years to 10-12 years. In general, cleansing and care products for adults should not be used on the skin of infants and babies.

Summary
  1. What are the specific attributes of a baby’s skin?
  2. How can I recognise if my baby has dry or atopic skin?
  3. Is nappy rash inevitable?
  4. What causes irritation around the mouth?
  5. How can I protect a child’s skin from the sun?
Paediatric Dermatology

What are the specific attributes of a baby’s skin?

People often speak of “baby-soft skin” when referring to soft, velvety skin. And yet that is not always the case! Except for premature babies, a baby’s skin is already completely formed at birth. However, it is thinner and does not fulfil its barrier function as effectively as that of an adult.
A few weeks after birth, an infant stops producing sebum and his/her sebaceous glands will not be reactivated until adolescence. Thus, the hydrolipidic film is thinner and therefore does not protect the skin as well, which leads to:
. Dry skin causing irritation
. Permeability to infectious agents or allergens, making this irritation worse
 
In addition, the surface of a child’s skin is two to three times bigger than that of an adult (higher surface/weight ratio). So a product applied to a child’s skin penetrates more easily. Cutaneous absorption is also promoted by a moist environment (skin under nappies), damaged skin (nappy rash) and folds.
It is therefore essential to use efficient and extremely soft cleansing and body care products, guaranteeing:
. High tolerance, respecting the specific needs of the child’s skin
. High safety, fulfilling stringent formulation and production requirements tailored to the skin of infants and babies.

How can I recognise if my baby has dry or atopic skin?

Weakened by external stress such as the wind, cold weather, hard water or heating, a baby’s skin tends to become dry and more reactive.
With atopic dermatitis, your child’s skin will be very dry and rough, sometimes with red patches. Your child’s skin is tight and sometimes itchy and he or she has trouble sleeping. Atopic dermatitis is a dermatosis that often appears starting at two to three months of age and disappears in most cases after several years. The horny layer in this type of skin is excessively permeable due to a lack of lipids. The skin no longer fulfils its barrier function properly. It no longer protects the body from environmental allergens, allowing them to penetrate more easily. Sensitivity to these allergens triggers an inflammation that leads to an eczema flare-up, which is most often accompanied with severe itching.
Scratching causes lesions that increase skin irritation. The skin becomes even more permeable to allergens, which can cause a new acute inflammatory reaction. Extremely dry atopic skin progresses through successive phases of flare-ups and remissions.
Three main types of environmental allergens responsible for acute inflammatory reactions have been identified:

. Airborne allergens: mites, pollen, cat and dog hair, feathers, etc.;
. Food allergens; and
. Contact allergens: nickel, fragrances, etc.
To learn more about atopy, check out this article.

Is nappy rash inevitable?

Nappy rash is a common problem that occurs in certain situations including nappies that rub, over-aggressive cleansing, diarrhoea, a change in diet, an infectious episode and teething.
Most cases of nappy rash are an occurrence of irritative dermatitis triggered by the occlusive effect of nappies, aggravated by contact with stools and urine, and potentially infected with bacteria. To prevent nappy rash, the occlusion and maceration effect of nappies must be eliminated. Some precautions should therefore be taken:
. Change your child frequently;
. Clean them after each nappy change using a mild, soap-free cleansing product guaranteeing safety and tolerance (overly aggressive products alter the skin barrier);
. Gently pat them dry, particularly in skin folds;
. After each nappy change, apply a water-based paste with antibacterial ingredients that guarantee safety and tolerance. This will soothe, insulate and rebuild the epidermis on your baby’s bottom to help get rid of nappy rash.
. If the nappy rash persists, see a doctor.

What causes irritation around the mouth?

Skin irritation around the mouth is characterised by redness, small spots and dry, rough skin. This irritation is the result of macerating saliva following the repeated use of a dummy, thumb or security blanket or during teething.
Amylase, an enzyme present in saliva, is an aggravating factor of the irritation. Aggravated or altered by the cold and wind, these skin irritations around the mouth peak in the winter.

How can I protect a child’s skin from the sun?

Babies should never be exposed to the sun. The skin of young children requires specific high protection offering the very best safety guarantees. Learn more about precautions you should take when children are exposed to the sun here.