Babies’ skin

As with adults, a baby’s largest organ is its skin. However, in relation to body volume, the surface area of a baby’s skin is roughly double that of adults. Although the skin of a baby has the same number of layers, it is around five to ten times thinner than adult skin. In babyhood (the first year of life), some of its vital protective and metabolic functions, sensory mechanisms, thermoregulation, respiratory and excretory functions are still very restricted and only adapt slowly after birth to life outside the womb. 

The functions of the sebaceous glands and sweat glands are still not fully developed, and so neither is the skin’s protective acid mantle. The sebaceous glands are almost complete in number, but they are still very small. Their full size and function is not achieved until puberty, as a result of hormonal influences. 

Until shortly after birth, vernix protects the skin against drying out and heat loss. Babies’ skin contains less oil, but has high levels of water. This is why it is particularly soft and firm, but also very sensitive to extreme cold (risk of frostbite) and mechanical trauma (blistering). The reduced oil content (reduced sebum production) makes babies’ skin less resistant to irritants such as saliva and excrements. In addition, the skin does not yet possess the physiological flora to prevent pathogen bacteria and fungi from penetrating.

The immune system associated with the skin, that wards off foreign bodies, is not yet fully developed either, nor is the skin’s horny layer, and the corneous cells are less densely “packed”. This means that babies’ skin is especially soft, but also injures easily and is more penetrable for foreign substances, germs and UV rays.

Melanin production, the skin’s natural protection against UV rays, is still considerably reduced, which explains why babies in their first year of life should never be exposed to direct sun. Due to the restricted barrier function of babies’ skin, it is more vulnerable to infections, drying out and sunburn, and requires special care.

Furthermore, the skin’s thermoregulation is still not completely developed. If body temperature increases too much, adult surface skin cools down by sweating. Since babies’ skin is only able to do this in a limited way, there is a risk of overheating. On the other hand, babies can also lose a great deal of heat through their skin. Their subcutaneous fatty tissue is not yet fully developed, which means that they get cold quickly. A considerable amount of heat is lost through the head – which, in proportion to the rest of the baby’s body, is relatively large, and still lacks hair – and through the fontanelle, which is not yet ossified. This is why it is important to keep babies’ heads covered outdoors. 

 

Dermacosmetic care: 

The aim of skin care for babies is to strengthen their skin barrier and maintain their skin’s natural protection mechanisms. Since babies’ skin is delicate and highly sensitive, it should be given careful, gentle care according to the principle: “as little as possible, as much as necessary”. Above all, it should be protected against drying out, cold, and irritants, especially in the mouth and diaper areas. Only mild and skin-compatible care products, designated as suitable for babies, should be used. As far as possible, these should be free of fragrances, colorings and preservatives, and should not be applied too thickly. Frequent bathing dries the skin out, so moisturizing bath oils (e.g. based on almond oil or borage oil) should be added to bath water, if necessary. Before exposing the skin to the cold, it is recommended to apply water-free protective creams to the face and, if necessary, the hands.

The diaper area should be kept as dry as possible, feces removed with baby oil, and the skin and folds cared for with a protective cream. Particularly suitable creams contain a high proportion of gamma-linolenic acid (e.g. from borage oil) since the concentrations of this important barrier-strengthening substance is as yet too low in babies’ skin. The best protection against skin inflammation in the diaper area is to change the baby’s diaper frequently, if necessary during the night as well. If the skin becomes read, a light care cream containing licorice root extract can be applied, because this ingredient is known for its skin-soothing qualities. If redness persists, or there is blistering or weeping, the baby may be suffering from diaper dermatitis and this must be treated with a medicated diaper cream.

 

DADO SENS care recommendation:

  • Dry skin:

ExtroDerm Intensive Cream

  • Severely irritated areas:   

ProBalance Akut Soothing Acute Cream

  • Sun protection:

SUN Cream Kids SPF 30 / SUN Cream Kids SPF 50