As newborn babies adjust to life outside the womb, the appearance of their skin may be startling to new parents. New babies commonly develop bumps, rashes and peeling skin during the first weeks of life, but these skin conditions are usually normal and harmless. After your baby sheds the top layer of his skin, the underlying layer should be normal and healthy.
When babies are in the womb, they are covered with a white substance called vernix that is made up of shed skin cells and oil gland secretions. This waxy material protects your baby's skin until birth. After the vernix is washed off, the top layer of a baby's skin begins to dry up and peel off, according to Drugs.com.
In the first week or two after birth, your newborn's skin may flake or peel off in thin patches. Peeling and cracked skin may be particularly noticeable around a baby's wrists and ankles. The skin on your baby's hands or feet may look wrinkled and dry.
Peeling newborn skin does not need to be treated because it is a normal part of your baby's development. If the peeling bothers you, ask your doctor to recommend a gentle ointment to improve the appearance of your baby's skin.
If your baby is born after his due date, he may not be covered in vernix at birth and his skin may already be peeling when he is born, according to The Nemours Foundation. This is not a cause for concern. While it is normal for newborn babies to shed skin after birth, talk to your baby's doctor if she continues to experience dry skin beyond the first few weeks of life. Some babies may have sensitive skin or other conditions that need to be treated.
Do not try to treat your baby's peeling skin with harsh lotions or scented products, and do not scrub or try to peel your baby's skin. Such measures can irritate sensitive newborn skin.