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Baby Skin Development and Treatment
By: Kim Walls
Posted: June 29, 2009, from the July 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
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Natural products. Explain to your client that baby skin is much more permeable than adult skin because it is so thin. This heightened permeability at birth means incredible sensitivity to chemicals that can be passed transdermally into the bloodstream. Premature baby skin can be so permeable that the body can easily become dehydrated, infected and even accidentally poisoned. As more layers of horny cells develop with time, skin permeability is reduced. The combination of reduced functionality of the sebaceous glands and highly permeable skin make it very difficult for a baby to pass toxins out of the body through sweat. This is another reason why it is critically important to guide your clients toward natural, chemical-free products for an infant’s skin.
Fragrance. Interference from synthetic fragrances can be quite damaging, and the word “fragrance” on a label may indicate as many as 4,000 synthetic chemicals, many of which can cause skin discoloration, irritation, coughing and vomiting. Even more troubling, they can also affect the central nervous system, causing depression, hyperactivity and irritability.1–4 Finding products that are fragrance-free is essential to support health and enhance mother-baby bonding. On the other hand, the right aromatherapy oils—in less than .05% total concentration—can benefit the parenting relationship by enhancing feelings of joy, cooperation and happiness during bonding experiences, such as bathing and massage. Rose, chamomile and lavender aromatherapy oils, blended together at the right ratios, can provide wonderful benefits when used properly.
Touch. Perhaps the most delightful function of baby skin is the ability to receive love and affection through the sense of touch. Tactile stimulation through the epidermis allows your client to reassure, nurture and love with a gentle caress. In addition to emotional support, research shows that frequent touching is equally important for physical and cognitive development. Babies who are cuddled, rocked, massaged and cradled grow more quickly and soundly, exhibit more playfulness and less fear, tolerate stress better and have stronger immune systems.5
Maximum health of the skin—and therefore the immune system—can be developed through proper cleansing, massage and the topical application of creams and ointments. Because of environmental contaminants and delayed dermal development, any number of natural catalysts, such as environmental pollutants, allergies, hormones, genetics, bodily fluids and even the weather, can trigger skin problems. Young skin flares up so frequently that rashes account for about 30% of unscheduled visits to the pediatrician’s office.6
Baby skin care requires four types of products: cleansers, treatments, moisturizers and sun care. Every product must be naturally protective to provide auxiliary support for the immune system with hydration, pH balancing, physical protection and antioxidizing activity at a cellular level. Even a basic baby cleanser should help strengthen and maintain a baby’s immunity.