Common Concerns in the Early Weeks -Part Four
So much happens so fast as your baby adjusts to life outside the womb and you adjust to life with this little person. Knowing what to expect and understanding why babies do what they do will help you ease more comfortably into parenting.
New Born Skin Marks And Rashes
Run your handover your baby's kin. So soft, so smooth, but not perfect. You feel dry patches, flaky areas, areas that are rough and winkled, and some areas where the skin doesn't seem to fit, such as around the chin, neck, wrist, and heels. But don't worry, your baby will grow into it. Let's run you hands and eyes, head to toe, over the variety of skin changes in most newborns.
Normal Baby Marks
When you look at your baby's skin, it doesn't look perfect either. There are spots and specks, blotches and bruises, streaks and stains -- a cost of many hues that your newborn wears. But newborn skin has a remarkable quality -- the ability to change -- sometimes before your eyes.
Called strawberry bemangiomas -- they look and feel like a strawberry -- these birthmarks come from blood vessels that went astray and kept growing. Most babies have at least one. And, like a bunch of strawberries, they come in various sizes and shapes, ranging from freckle size to as large as a golf ball.
While cosmetically unattractive, most of these strawberry hemangiomas are best left alone to self-destruct. Sometimes they are a nuisance by location. Such a growth on the eyelid, for example, may interfere with lid opening and strain baby's developing vision. Others reside in areas such as the arms and legs where they bleed when struck. Rarely do they persist as a cosmetic nuisance. In these situations, disfiguring or annoying hemangiomas can be shrunk and removed by injections and laser treatment.
Baby's First Spots
In a situation similar to the hormonal stages of puberty, the increased hormones at birth may cause the overproduction of a waxy, oily substance called sebum in the oil glands of the skin, most noticeably in the face and scalp. Plugging of these glands leads to inflammation and the formation of pimples. Parents call it baby acne. The medical term is Seborrheic dermatitis.
Like teenage acne, the red, pimply, oily rash covers much of baby's face, and the previously soft, smooth cheeks feel sandpaper rough. Hold the camera; this first puberty is short-lived (in fact, veteran baby-face watchers plan first photos or christenings before or after the acne period). Newborn acne usually peaks around the third week and clears within a month or six weeks,
Newborn acne bothers parents more than baby. Cut baby's fingernails short to prevent scratching. Gentle washing with water and a mild soap will remove the excess and sometimes irritating oil. If the acne pimples get infected (red area around the pimples or honey like oozing), your doctor may prescribe an antibacterial cream. Most newborn acne disappears completely without any special care of the skin.
If the condition appears early (that is, in the second week) and/or worsens quickly, spreading past the face into the hair and down onto the neck and even the shoulders, you may be observing one of the first signs of allergy to a nutrient in baby's formula or in your breast milk. The acne will most likely retreat dramatically when cow's milk products are eliminated from a breastfeeding mother's diet.
Here's how to treat a more severe case of cradle cap:
* Massage cold-pressed vegetable oil into the crusty areas to soften them. Give the oil fifteen minutes or so to soak in.
If the cradle cap is persistent, severe, and itchy, try an over-the-counter (OTC) mild tar shampoo twice a week until it clears up. (See "Rx for Healthy Baby Skin," further on in this article.)
You may also notice a crusty, oil rash behind your baby's ears and in the skin folds of the neck. This Seborrheic dermatitis is usually cleared with gentle washing with warm water, but sometimes hydrocortisone cream may help. Skin enjoys humidity. This is why most rashes worsen during the winter months, when central heating dries the air. A vaporizer or humidifier in your baby's sleeping room will moisturize dry skin..
Healing Cracked Skin
Many newborns, especially if post-mature, have dry flaky skin, most noticeably on the hands and feet. Baby's natural skin oils suffice; no lotion is necessary, if cracks develop in the creases around the wrists and ankles, apply a moisturizing cream such as Soothe and Heal with Lansinoh or an infant massage oil, such as coconut, almost, safflower, apricot or avocado oil.
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