Many new parents get sleepless nights when they see small skin flakes of the newborn baby coming off from various parts of the body within the first few weeks. It is an unpleasant sight indeed as we all expect their skin to be soft and smooth. However, the bigger concern is that whether the peeling skin hurts the baby or not. Let me tell you that it is an absolutely normal occurrence and your little baby is not very bothered by it. Initially, you can see that the skin is peeling off from smaller areas on hands, feet and groin, but later on the peeling starts from larger areas like back. At times, the shedding of the skin happens so fast that you feel that the entire body skin will be peeled off soon!
When the babies are inside their mother's womb for 9 months, the delicate skin is protected with a thick coating of waxy substance known as vernix. Besides, their body is submerged in the amniotic fluid. After birth, part of the vernix coat is washed off with the first bath itself and the rest in absorbed into the skin. Thus, their body is exposed to the dry outside air all of a sudden. As a result, the skin becomes dry and its topmost layer starts peeling off. This is a natural response of the body to adjust itself with the changing environment. It continues for 3-4 weeks until the outer layer is peeled off completely. Then the underlying skin layer is exposed, which appears normal and healthy. This skin layer is also very sensitive but it can cope with the harsh conditions in a better manner.
While the newborn skin is peeling off, you must carefully watch if there are some other symptoms. Cracks may develop on the newly exposed layer of the skin. This is an indication that the infant has developed a dry skin problem. It is usually triggered by various environmental irritants such as extreme hot or cold temperature, saline water, dry winds, etc. As a result, the skin peeling may continue for several weeks. In some cases, excessive dryness of the skin may result in infantile eczema. It is characterized by reddening of the skin along with dry, scaly skin patches that cause itching and your baby will try to scratch them again and again.
Care for Skin Peeling
When the infant skin is peeling off, you just have to ensure that the skin that lies underneath does not dry up any further. Here are a few tips that can help you in this regard:
- There is no need to soak the newborn baby in bathwater. Rather, a sponge bath with a soft piece of cloth is enough to clean up their body. You should give them a sponge bath 2-3 times in a week and not more than that.
- Avoid using soaps on the newborn skin altogether until the skin peeling stops. This is because peeling skin gets irritated easily and is prone to allergies.
- While cleaning the skin, do not rub the skin hard in order to peel off the skin fast. Similarly, you should not rub the dry towel vigorously on the skin after bathing your newborn. Just pat a clean and soft towel gently on the skin. In other words, keep the peeling skin untouched and let it fall off on its own naturally.
- You can apply a gentle lotion on the peeling skin a number of times throughout the day to keep the skin in a well moisturized condition. You should use a hypoallergenic lotion specifically formulated for baby skin for this purpose.
- Newborn babies should be strictly kept out of direct sun exposure. This is because the new layer that lies below the peeling skin is extremely delicate and is sensitive towards ultraviolet radiation.
Before concluding this article, I would like to tell you that newborn skin peeling is considered as normal if it lasts for few days or few weeks only. However, if the problem persists for more than a month, then a doctor needs to be consulted. Newborns with itchy skin rashes, cracking skin or skin inflammations should also be taken to the doctor without any delay.