The structural and functional skin maturation starts immediately after delivery in full-term newborns and 2-3 weeks in preterm newborns after birth. At birth, the skin is red to purplish.
In a conversation with the writer, Dr Neha Dubey -- Consultant Medical & Cosmetic Dermatologist, Medical Director at Meraki Skin Clinic, Gurugram, India, mentioned, "When the baby takes its first breath, the colour of the skin changes to red and would normally stay like that for a day. Hands and feet stay bluish for several days due to underdeveloped circulation, which improves over time."
"Then, there is Vernix, a white sticky material covering the baby's skin, which eventually clears away. A newborn's skin is in transition from the moment they are born; there are a lot of changes going on, and one has to practice caution," she added.
When it comes to the difference between the skin of a newborn male and a female, there is no difference.
Precautions to follow
"As I mentioned earlier, a newborn's skin undergoes constant change daily throughout the first few weeks after birth. It's imperative for the caregiver to not use anything on the baby's skin either while massaging or giving a bath that contains harsh chemicals with fragrance or is impure," she added.
For instance, many people use mustard oil to give regular massages to their babies. Still, it often results in rashes such as miliaria, either because of the impurities in the oil or too much heat. The doctor suggested using cold-pressed lighter oils like coconut, almond, sesame, or olive oil.
"The choice of oil should also be under the weather. For example - during winter prefer almond oil, and coconut oil is good for summer. A wait time of 10-15 mins is more than enough post-massage, and then the baby should be bathed using lukewarm water and mild, fragrance-free soap."
She also shared that, many times, newborns are still under the effect of maternal hormones for a few weeks after birth, making their skin oily and prone to acneiform eruptions known as neonatal acne. This is why too many moisturizers should be avoided, especially if you regularly give oil massages to the baby.
The opposite also happens, and babies have genetically dry skin conditions. Here the use of moisturizers, particularly the ones containing oatmeal extracts, aids in keeping the dryness in check.
Care should be taken even while choosing the clothing material & bed Linen, cotton should be given preference, and everything should be washed in lukewarm water before the first use.
"It is not important to go into details about a baby's skin type as it'll be either too dry, oily, or normal. As I shared earlier, the product choice would vary slightly," recommended the doctor.
Dr Neha suggests using cold-pressed pure oils, fragrance-free soaps, and moisturizers with ceramides and oatmeal extracts, as these are safe for newborns.
All in all, when it comes to newborn skin care products, less is more! Sticking to basics does the trick most of the time. If you notice any unusual or unusual changes in your baby's skin and don't understand them, consult a dermatologist, even before using any home remedies.
"What I have seen in my practice is that by the time parents get the idea of getting their babies for a dermatological evaluation, the problem blows out of proportion as, by that time, they would have been using the meds suggested by other parents or a GP or a paediatrician, who do not have an in-depth knowledge about the skin," Dr Neha explained.