BY JAMIE LOBER
Baby’s skin may be soft, but it is not always perfect.
Babies tend to have sensitive skin, and therefore are susceptible to several skin conditions. When you understand a few of the most common, you will be able to differentiate what is normal versus something that warrants medical attention.
There are two kinds of diaper rash. The first kind occurs when urine and poop burn the skin and cause a rash. Balmex, Desitin, vitamin A and D ointment, or Vaseline jellies can help. To prevent this type of diaper rash, Dr. Seth Bush of Middle Georgia Pediatrics in Macon, offers his patients a prescription compound. One of the components is cholestyramine, which binds bioacid and stool to prevent them from burning the skin. Dr. Dan Stewart, pediatrician at Cornerstone Medical Associates in Perry, says, “The best way to take care of this type of rash is to change diapers frequently, and get them off as soon as they are wet and dirty.”
The other kind of diaper rash is caused by a yeast infection where you tend to see red bumps in the diaper area. “We all have yeast on our bodies, but in the damp environment of the diaper area, that yeast can overgrow and overcolonize, so you need to use an antifungal medicine like Lotramin or cream,” says Dr. Bush. Make sure your child’s bottom is getting air. “Sometimes, you have to take diapers off and put a big towel underneath them while they nap to catch their pee or poop. This way, the area can get air and improve,” says Dr. Stewart.
Since the baby’s skin is most sensitive in the creases of the elbows and creases behind the knees and neck, those are the most common spots for eczema. This condition is often referred to as atopic dermatitis. “Studies show that the more frequently you use lotions and creams, the better. If I have a baby with eczema, I say that every diaper change you should lube them up with some type of cream like Lubriderm to keep that moisture locked in the skin so the baby has a greasy feel to him,” says Dr. Bush.
No two kids are the same. “Treatment is individualized based on severity, degree of involvement, and how much it impacts their life. Most parents feel it is external or something the baby is allergic to, but in most cases it is not at all; it is innate,” explains Dr. David Cohen, dermatologist at Dermatologic Surgery Specialists in Macon. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 40% of children will outgrow eczema.
Some babies have allergies or asthma that cause their skin to act up and get infected. “To help eliminate bacteria from the skin, you can add a little Dixie cup of bleach to the bathtub or treat them with antibiotics,” says Cohen. To decrease the chance your baby will develop allergies, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for the first four months.
Birthmarks are not usually a concern. In fact, some go away over time without any intervention at all. “Strawberry hemangiona is a red lesion that we call an angel kiss. It is like where the angel came and kissed the baby, but it usually clears on its own over time, such that 50% are gone by five years of age,” says Dr. Bush. Your pediatrician can determine whether the birthmark should be treated or left alone.
Milia are common but do not require intervention. A lot of babies get these white bumps on their nose or chin, but it goes away. This condition is sometimes mistaken for acne in babies. “Others get miliaria rubra, which is a prickly heat rash that requires nothing more than bathing with soapy water,” says Dr. Stewart. In cases where acne persists, a medicated cream may be necessary to clear up the skin.
Molluscum contagiosum are warts caused by viruses. “They are smooth, dome-shaped warts that have a tiny volcano area,” says Stewart. Spending time at daycare centers or sharing personal items are the two most common causes. This painless condition goes away by itself over time. If they are on conspicuous areas, scraping or freezing them are two popular methods for removal.
Cradle cap is an excessive dandruff condition that your baby may be born with. It can last between several months and a year. “Usually, it is due to the hormones achieved from the mother through the placenta during delivery that activates the dandruff, and then it goes away until they hit puberty,” says Cohen. The same hormones can cause acne in babies. Treatment for the appearance can be topical, such as benzoyl peroxide cleaners or creams to dry it up. In severe cases, a course of antibiotics are given to be taken topically or orally.
Fortunately, the majority of skin conditions in babies are not concerning and often disappear. “Most kids fortunately have healthy skin that requires minimal to no attention, except for perhaps using sunscreen and avoiding the sun at an early age,” says Dr. Cohen.