Babies have more delicate skin compared to adults, so they are more susceptible to developing dry skin, rashes and mild skin irritation. Further, a baby's surface-area-to-mass ratio is much greater, which means babies are vulnerable to losing body heat and moisture quite quickly when exposed to excessively cool, warm or dry air. Using natural skin moisturizers is usually a safe and effective way to prevent dry skin in babies, and grape seed and coconut oils are two good examples. Consult with your pediatrician if your baby experiences chronically dry skin.
Grape Seed Oil
Grape seed oil is made from pressing the seeds of various types of grapes, which are byproducts of the wine-making industry. Thin and light in texture, grape seed oil leaves a glossy film over the skin when applied, making it a preferred ingredient in skin moisturizer products made by the cosmetic industry. According to the book "Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine," grape seed oil is rich in linoleic and oleic essential oils and contains some antioxidants such as vitamin E and resveratrol. There are no reported side-effects from external grape seed oil application.
Coconut oil is used for cooking and as a moisturizer for hair and skin. The oil is rich in saturated fats, particularly medium chain varieties such as capric, caprylic and lauric fatty acids, according to the book "Nutritional Sciences for Human Health." These fatty acids display antimicrobial properties, which help protect the skin from microbial infections. Further, when applied externally, saturated fat clings to the skin, thus preventing excessive moisture from escaping. Coconut oil also contains vitamin E and a variety of proteins. Like grape seed oil, coconut oil is stable and doesn't go rancid quickly. Unlike grape seed oil, coconut oil tends to solidify at room temperature.
Try to avoid exposing your baby to excessively cold, hot or dry air, which may contribute to dry skin. Exposure to air conditioning, salt water and chlorine can all dry the skin. Daily bathing removes the natural oils of the skin, so a moisturizer should be used after each bath. Applying the moisturizer within minutes of drying your baby will seal in the moisture from the bath. Grape seed oil is thin and easy to apply, whereas coconut oil is a little thicker and may be better for chapped skin. Reducing bath times and using tepid water and minimal soap can also help prevent dry skin.
Dry skin is sometimes a symptom of a more serious condition. If your baby's dry skin includes itchy red patches, eczema may be involved. Silvery patches are indicative of psoriasis. Excessively dry skin that does not respond to moisturizers may indicate a genetic condition called ichthyosis, according to the book "General and Systematic Pathology." If grape seed oil or coconut oil does not seem to combat your baby's dry skin, contact your doctor, who may recommend a dermatologist.