Let’s face it – life changes when baby arrives. The birth of a child is an experience that isn’t easily put into words. There’s such an overwhelming feeling of love, devotion and a fiercely protective instinct that kicks in and never goes away. From food to clothing to body washes, body lotions and detergents, whatever may go in or on your little miracle matters most. Newborn skin is delicate, after all, and so is the baby’s immune system. With this in mind, Market America | SHOP.COM is here to talk about that precious new skin that your newborn is in and what to consider when taking care of baby’s everyday needs.
To begin with, skin is the largest organ in the human body. It protects the internal organs and structures from the environment. There are three main layers of skin: the epidermis (outermost layer), the dermis and the subcutaneous (innermost layer). The stratum corneum (SC) is the outermost layer of the epidermis and is known as the skin barrier – flattened dead skin cells that shed about every two weeks. The SC is actually what protects the skin and acts as the first line of defense from anything outside the body. The difference between adult skin and baby skin is that the SC of a baby’s skin is thinner and allows things to pass through it more easily. That’s why baby skin is able to absorb more water while also losing water faster than adult skin.
So, now that we know the difference between baby skin and adult skin, let’s find out how this relates to your baby’s body temperature, what happens to your baby’s skin when it’s exposed to the sun and why the products you and everyone else in the household uses may not be best for baby’s sensitive skin.
Heating and Cooling
Babies don’t come equipped with the best heating and cooling system that adults have. As an example, when adults get hot, blood vessels in the dermis widen and move blood from the core of the body to the skin, where it can cool. When adults get cold, the blood vessels narrow to keep more warm blood at the core. Baby blood vessels are still a work in progress until around four months old.
No matter what age, most people produce a pigment called melanin, which protects skin against DNA damage from ultraviolet rays. Babies make less melanin than adults do, however, so their skin cells can be damaged more quickly than adult skin. The FDA doesn’t recommend sunscreens for infants. Instead, infants should be kept out of the sun whenever possible, especially from 10:00 a.m. – to 2:00 p.m. If an infant has to be out in the sun, FDA recommends keeping them in the shade, using protective clothing and covering them up. As directed on sunscreen labels, you should consult your pediatrician before applying sunscreen to children under six months of age. Some dermatologists recommend sunscreens for older babies that block UV rays physically rather than chemically. To figure this out, all you have to do is check the ingredients in a sunscreen. If you see the active ingredients only include zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or both, it’s a physical blocker.
Protecting Baby Skin
As far as the laundry detergents, soaps and lotions that everyone uses in your home, when it comes to your baby’s precious skin, the fewer chemicals these types of products have, the better. Simply put, avoid products with scents and dyes. Most importantly, if your baby’s skin is irritated, creams or ointments with zinc oxide may help. The best person to reach out to, however, is your baby’s pediatrician.
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