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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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page 4 of 7

Acne. Baby acne, often caused by residual maternal hormones in the baby’s body, often occurs at two or three months of age and looks a lot like adult acne. It usually disappears without treatment after four to six weeks, but the uncomfortable symptoms can be treated with soothing, calming ingredients, such as oat extract, neem oil and calendula to reduce inflammation, prevent infection and minimize discomfort.

Eczema. Eczema affects about 20% of babies.8 It is often hereditary, and looks red and scaly. It can be irritating and has the potential to lead to infection. Eczematic skin is particularly vulnerable and sensitive; it can rash up in the presence of specific triggers, such as soy products, milk or a particular skin care product. Determining triggers and minimizing flareups can be a long process. Hydrating organic jojoba oil and natural antibacterial ingredients, such as neem oil, are helpful to sooth and prevent secondary infection. You should recommend a physician’s visit for any scaly skin condition on a baby.

Psoriasis. Psoriasis, which causes skin cells to shed more quickly than they should, will make the baby’s epidermis appear red, scaly and thick. Psoriatic skin is not fully functional, but it probably isn’t more susceptible to increased toxic uptake because it is generally even less permeable than healthy skin. As with eczema, this condition may be successfully treated and even prevented with nonpharmaceutical products under your care or the direction of a pediatrician.

Moisturizers. The skin must be properly hydrated at all times to maintain ample strength and immunity, especially to defend against the damaging effects of air conditioning, polluted air, and windy or cold environments. The use of humidifiers or living in a naturally humid environment is very beneficial for the skin and may help reduce the need to use moisturizers. Daily moisturizing products provide wonderful benefits to the skin in both their composition, and the incorporation of a little massage during application. Moisturizing ingredients to look for include a host of excellent natural options from pure aloe or noni gel to delicious plant oils, such as avocado oil or apricot kernel oil. As always, advise your clients to avoid petroleum by-products and preservatives.

Sun care. Most sun damage will occur before a child is 18 years old. Because of the low levels of melanin production in an infant’s skin and its extreme sensitivity, physicians recommend avoiding both sun exposure and the use of sunscreen until at least six months of age. After six months, chemical-free zinc- or titanium-based products with SPF 35 or higher should be used all over the body, even under clothes. Lip protection is especially important to apply and reapply often, because much of it is quickly wiped or licked off. Avoid synthetic sunscreen chemicals because some are known to mimic estrogens (xenoestrogens) and may be linked to hormonal developmental problems in young children.9, 10 Also, remind your client that a baby needs a higher SPF than an adult to get the same protective value.

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