When your baby is born, their skin will begin to peel. Skin peeling can be a scary experience for new parents, but it’s common and expected.
A newborn’s skin peels because it adjusts to exposure to the outside world. As a result, their skin may become dry and flaky. This is especially true if your baby was born with a lot of body hair.
Skin peeling is a normal part of the human development process. It can be uncomfortable and embarrassing, but it’s important to remember that it will not permanently damage your baby. Luckily, there are several things that you can do to help reduce or manage skin peeling.
What Is Newborn Skin Peeling?
Newborn skin peeling is normal. It is the way your baby’s skin looks after birth. This can happen even if your baby has not been in contact with any chemicals or products that could irritate them.
It is essential to know that newborn skin peeling is not a sign of illness, although it can worry new parents.
What Causes Newborn Skin Peeling?
Newborns’ skin is naturally fragile and delicate, which makes them more prone to skin peeling as they grow and develop. As they undergo the process of shedding their old skin cells, new ones replace them. This process can cause skin peeling or flaky skin patches on their body, arms, legs, and face. It can also lead to dryness or irritation if you don’t treat it appropriately.
How to Deal with Dry, Peeling Skin on Your Baby
The skin of babies is different from adults. It is more sensitive, fragile, and much thinner. The baby’s skin has to be handled with great care.
Baby skin is more delicate than adult skin. It is more prone to dryness and peeling. Babies tend to have dry and flaky skin because they do not produce enough oil and are rarely exposed to the sun. Here are some simple tips to help keep your baby’s skin soft and healthy to avoid skin peeling.
Leave the Vernix On
The vernix is a protective coating that covers your newborn’s skin. It’s usually white or grayish and can look oily or waxy. In most cases, it doesn’t need to be washed off.
If you’re concerned about germs, wash the umbilical cord stump with soap and water after it falls off. But don’t use other soaps or lotions on your baby’s skin until it peels naturally within the first few days of life.
Don’t scrub or peel off the vernix yourself. The protective coating helps your baby’s skin stay moist and prevents infections during those first fragile weeks of life.
Wait to Bathe Your Newborn
Wait with your newborn baby’s first bath until after the umbilical cord has fallen off (usually within a week or two after birth). This allows the baby’s body to finish adjusting to life outside the womb and helps prevent irritation from soap or other products used for cleaning.
Don’t use soap unless necessary. If you use soap, choose one labeled “dermatologically tested” and free of fragrances or dyes that could irritate your baby’s sensitive skin.
Reduce the Number of Baths
Bathing too often will strip away your baby’s natural oils and cause skin peeling. Try giving your baby only two to three baths a week instead of every day.
Use mild soap and warm water instead of soaps that contain harsh chemicals and fragrances. Baby soap should also be used sparingly on your baby’s face because it can cause irritation and rashes. Also, limit your baby’s bath time to ten minutes to prevent overly dry skin.
Avoid Hot Water During Bath Time
Hot water strips the skin of oils that protect it from moisture loss, which can worsen dryness. A warm bath is better than a hot one, but don’t let the water get too cold to prevent your little one from shivering. Place your elbow or inner wrist in the water or use a baby bath thermometer to check the temperature.
Do Not Use Harsh Soaps or Bubble Baths
Many commercial baby soaps contain chemicals that can cause skin peeling in babies. Try using a mild soap made specifically for babies with sensitive skin. Also, avoid fragranced shampoos and bubble baths, which can irritate your baby’s sensitive skin. Instead, choose products with minimal perfumes and dyes.
Apply a Moisturizer
Moisturize with a hypoallergenic lotion. Consider using a hypoallergenic cream instead of baby oil or petroleum jelly. These products may be more effective at treating dryness and preventing further damage to the skin. Applying moisturizer after each bath will help keep the skin hydrated throughout the day.
Change Your Baby’s Diaper Frequently
If your baby has sensitive skin or other conditions that cause dryness, frequently changing their diapers can help prevent problems such as diaper rash. Change them as soon as they soil their diaper — even if it’s just a little bit — so they don’t have time to sit in urine or feces before being changed again.
Make Your Baby’s Room More Humid
Use a humidifier in your home during cold weather months. Humidifiers add moisture back into the air and help increase humidity levels which helps keep your baby’s skin moist longer than usual.
Keep Your Baby Out of the Sun
Indirect or direct sunlight can quickly burn and injure young babies’ skin due to its fragility. Keeping young babies away from the sun’s harmful rays is crucial.
Take your child outside under a tree or umbrella if it’s shady and use the stroller’s canopy in tandem. Dress your infant in breathable cotton clothing that covers their arms and legs, and top it off with a hat with a wide brim.
When does newborn skin peeling start?
It typically begins at birth and lasts for a few weeks or months. It generally starts on the face and then spreads to other body areas. Some babies have more peeling than others, but it's nothing to be alarmed about. It's just part of the transition from being inside the mother’s womb to getting exposed to air.
How long does newborn skin peeling last?
During the first few weeks of your newborn's existence, their skin may peel. After that, their skin will generally begin to clean up independently without further intervention. If your child is a month or two old and their skin is still peeling, bring it up with their pediatrician at your next appointment.
How does breast milk help dry skin?
Breast milk has several skin benefits for babies. It repairs dry skin and soothes it because it's rich in lauric acid, an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. Breast milk fatty acids also provide a moisture-retaining barrier. This reduces inflammation.
Your infant’s peeling skin is not a cause for concern. As the outer layer of skin sheds, this may persist for a week or two.
Your baby’s skin may dry up and peel even after this early stage because of its extreme sensitivity. Shorten the bath time, use moisturizer, avoid synthetic fabrics, and use a cool-mist humidifier to avoid dry skin in babies.
Contact your child’s doctor if the dry, flaking skin persists. It could be an allergic reaction or rash that requires medical attention.