Summer is the season for sun, sea and sand. It’s a fantastic time of year to spend time outdoors, to enjoy picnics and park playdates with family and friends. But for parents, this time of year brings with it some added stress.
Baby and infant skin is sensitive and more susceptible to skin-issues, especially during the summer months. Warmer weather, insects and sun exposure all pose a risk to the body’s largest organ – the skin.
hot and bothered
Heat rash is a common skin issue amongst babies and children during summer. Sweat rash, miliaria and prickly heat are some of the other names used to describe this uncomfortable rash brought on by hot and humid weather.
This common summer rash occurs when sweat becomes trapped beneath the skin and sweat glands become blocked. In most cases heat rash is harmless, but does cause itching or a prickly feeling on the skin. It causes small, raised, red spots across the skin, in places where sweat usually collects, such as under the chin, in neck folds, backs of the knees, the crook of the elbows and the groin.
Babies are unfortunately more likely to suffer from heat rash as they are unable to control their body temperature the same way that we do as adults. Let’s not forget that they also often have ridiculously cute rolls and skin folds – This tends to be where heat rash appears, as sweat becomes trapped here, causing tiny red blisters on the skin.
To prevent or treat heat rash try to keep your baby’s skin cool and avoid sweating. Dressing your baby in light, breathable clothing will keep them cool and help to prevent sweating. To soothe uncomfortable, itchy heat rash, offer your baby a cool bath and pat the skin dry afterwards. Apply a cold face-washer to more troublesome areas and discourage scratching as this can cause breaking of the skin. Broken skin leads to further discomfort and is more susceptible to infection.
a touch of sun
Your baby’s birthday suit (the skin) is the largest organ of their tiny body. So, sun exposure and subsequent sunburn is not something to be taken lightly. Sun protection should always be used as baby skin is a work in progress. Newborns and infants have less Melanin pigment in their skin; melanin is responsible for skin, hair and eye colour, and is what helps to protect our skin from harmful ultraviolet rays.
As your baby grows, their skin will get thicker and will develop more melanin, providing a small amount of natural sun protection. Until then your baby’s buttery soft skin is super sensitive and more vulnerable to sunburn. Protect the skin you love to touch by keeping it covered. Dress your baby in breathable, protective clothing, a sun hat and seek shade. The sun’s rays are the strongest between 10am and 4pm, so try to stay out of direct sunlight during these peak times.
If your baby gets a touch too much sun and suffers a sunburn do what you can to soothe the pain and irritation. Try applying a cold face-washer to the area, consider a cool bath and soothe the skin with a hypoallergenic moisturiser to keep it hydrated. Sunburn causes fluid to evaporate from the skin more quickly, which increases the risk of dehydration. Offer your baby more frequent milk feeds and sips of water to thirst. Lastly, make sure to avoid the sun completely until the sunburn is healed.
bare it all and use a barrier
Nappy rash is a common skin issue for newborns, infants and toddlers, and it occurs more frequently in the summer months. Just like us, babies increase their fluid intake on warmer days to prevent dehydration.
Drinking more leads to more wet nappies, increasing the chances of prolonged exposure of moisture against the skin. This, coupled with more sweat, thanks to hot and humid weather, creates the perfect conditions for nappy rash to develop.
To keep your baby comfortable and to avoid nappy rash, change nappies frequently. The more time your baby spends out of nappies, the better for their booty. Offer your baby nappy-free time for about 30 minutes, several times a day and when putting a nappy back on, use a barrier cream to keep moisture to a minimum.
A barrier cream that contains Zinc Oxide will help to protect your baby’s delicate skin from moisture and prevent nappy rash from developing or worsening.
about the author
Erin is a mother of four, a registered midwife and a childbirth educator. Passion, and a desire to help couples navigate parenthood with confidence is what drives Erin to provide educational content via @thebirthtrust and to facilitate evidence-based childbirth education classes.
Through her midwifery practice and the educational classes and content she provides via @thebirthtrust she endeavours to educate and empower women, enabling them to begin their transition to motherhood feeling confident and supported.