Most babies will develop skin irritation, rash or sensitivity at some point or another during babyhood. But, when this happens, mum and dad might be left scratching their heads as to what could be causing it. Here, Dr Cairine Wilkinson, consultant dermatologist and mum of two young girls, offers her insights into some of the surprising triggers that can affect your baby’s skin.
1: New food
When weaning, a baby’s body is introduced to a range of new things for the very first time. This can be a bit of a surprise to your little ones’ immune system, and can sometimes result in a mild skin reaction.
Don’t be alarmed; babies tend to have food sensitivities rather than true food allergies at a young age, so a mild rash in reaction to trying new things can be common. Foods like eggs, peanuts, milk, wheat, fish and soy can cause atopic dermatitis on baby’s skin and only 15 percent of these babies are likely to have a food allergy. However, if you feel concerned by a rash that appears on your baby’s skin, don’t delay and consult a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
2: Wee and poop
When you wean your baby onto solid foods, the frequency and content of their bowel movements changes. Acidic foods like citrus and tomato-based sauces can cause diarrhoea, which is often to blame for irritating baby's skin when they go to the toilet.
Keep baby’s bottom clean and dry when changing their nappy by using a gentle baby wipe option such as WaterWipes or wash them with a neutral cleanser. As your baby eats a more varied diet, their bowel movements should settle down but if particular foods are causing your baby to go to the toilet more or you have any concerns, discuss them with your health visitor or GP.
3: Baby wipes
Some baby wipes can irritate baby skin, and in my experience, this is something that can be overlooked by parents. Health professionals recommend using cotton wool and water on baby’s skin, but if you’re out and about and looking for a more convenient product to clean baby’s skin, look for a wipe that has no unnecessary added ingredients such as Waterwipes.
4: Unnecessary ingredients
At birth, the outer layer of a baby’s skin is around 30 percent thinner, which means it can react more sensitively to some products and ingredients. Lots of baby products include unnecessary ingredients and fragrances, such as parfum and phenoxyethanol and benzyl alcohol, which can be irritating to babies’ skin.
With this in mind, its best to use products with fewer, and only recognisable ingredients. Check the back of the pack to see what ingredients the products contain and ensure you feel comfortable using these on the skin of your little one.
5: Environmental allergens
Babies are more likely to react to environmental allergies like pollen, animal fur, dust, woollen or synthetic clothing. Household cleaning products can also cause irritation. Keep an eye on your baby’s skin and what your baby is exposed to, so that you can limit any reaction. As your baby gets older and their immune system matures, some if not all, of these types of allergies and sensitives will go away on their own.
6: Detergents and fabric conditioners
Many household name brands of laundry detergents are safe to continue to use in your laundry routine. However, some babies are sensitive to different types of washing powder, so if your baby has a red, itchy rash, not from immediate contact of washing powder that lasts up to week, it could be a sensitivity caused by the products their clothes were washed in. If this is the case, your baby could benefit from non-bio products, as they are gentler and kinder on baby’s skin. It is also worth washing baby clothes, bedding, and blankets separately from the family's laundry.
When babies teethe and eat, they drool. Enzymes in baby saliva can irritate their skin, and the problem gets worse when skin gets wet and dries repeatedly. If they are particularly susceptible - before you feed your baby, try coating their face with petroleum jelly as a protective barrier. Make sure to wipe it off when mealtime is over.
WaterWipes with Soapberry are designed for growing babies and made with 99.9 percent water, plus a drop of fruit and Soapberry extract, and are the world’s purest baby wipes.
They provide the same purity parents rely on from WaterWipes while harnessing the natural cleaning properties of Soapberry, making them the perfect wipe to gently cleanse the hands, faces and bottoms of growing babies.