Is it OK to Put Lotion on a Peeling Newborn?

Newborn infants often have dry skin that appears flaky or peels, according to Daniel Feiten, M.D. of Greenwood Pediatrics. As this is a natural process, most newborns do not generally require lotion to alleviate the condition, but using one is perfectly fine if the appearance bothers you. Consult your physician before you begin any treatments for your infant that contain cortisone or another medication.

A baby's skin dries out very rapidly unless you moisturize it. (Image: Pilin_Petunyia/iStock/Getty Images)

Causes of Dry Skin

Newborns often have dry, flaking skin, particularly at the wrists and ankles, according to Daniel Feiten, M.D. This dry skin may be caused by his skin adjusting to the dry air that suddenly surrounds him after he is born. Although his dry skin may appear distressing to you, it is normal and does not seem to bother most newborns, according to ABC Pediatrics.

Choosing a Lotion

You can use a lotion for your newborn's dry skin, but choose a mild lotion without added colors or fragrances, or use a lotion that is specifically meant for infant skin to ensure that you are not inadvertently exposing your newborn to chemicals or additives meant for adult skin. Mary Stone, M.D. of the Division of Dermatology at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics advises using thick creams and ointments like petroleum jelly.

Bathing Your Infant with Dry Skin

Other than using a moisturizer, the most effective way to prevent loss of moisture in your newborn's skin is to bathe your newborn every other day until she is one month old. Limiting her exposure to soaps will help to prevent moisture loss because soaps are very drying. Stone further states that bubble baths should be avoided for infants with dry skin or problems with rashes because bubble bath is essentially liquid soap.

When to Consult a Physician

If your baby's skin is red or flaking, or if he scratches it or seems uncomfortable, your baby might have eczema. which is characterized by red, itching and peeling skin or small red bumps, according to Cara Familian Natterson, M.D., author of "Your Newborn: Head to Toe." These patches occur most often on the face, arms and behind the knees in infants. According to the American Association of Pediatrics, your pediatrician might recommend another course of treatment for her skin, such as a medicated cream or using compresses on the affected areas.

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