When the season of autumn appears, we can sense a slight cool change in the weather. Neither too cold nor too hot, autumn is no doubt a transitional season. When the colours of the leaves change, crisp up and fall to the ground. Where rainy weather forms puddles for children to enjoy jumping into. And where we suddenly need to put on some layers!
And yet … despite the beauty of autumn, we often don’t realise how it affects our baby’s delicate skin. For when we are suddenly exposed to autumn’s rain and wind, it causes our baby’s skin to change. It becomes dry and dehydrated - robbing their skin of much-needed moisture.
Panic not, mums and dads! This month, we thought we’d help you understand the common skin issues that babies may experience during autumn. Things such as dryness, eczema and diaper rash. We’ll guide you to identify the symptoms and understand the causes. We’ll even delve into treatment options to keep these pesky issues at bay! And finally - help you choose the appropriate baby skin care products to keep bub’s skin healthy and comfortable during autumn.
common skin issues amongst babies during autumn
what causes it
Dry skin is irritating, red and scaly, and can be a little painful for bubs. This is because the skin of a newborn is known to be extremely delicate and highly sensitive. This is due to a baby’s skin barrier being commonly thin: and not fully developing until two years of age.
Unfortunately, dry skin in babies is a common occurrence and can develop in autumn’s changing weather. This is because their little faces and hands are exposed to the cold and wind. Frequent handwashing and bathing can also cause dry skin in autumn, particularly on the backs of hands and knees and the scalp. Unbeknownst to us parents, these areas become dry and sore due to the water breaking down their sensitive skin barrier.
Dry skin is raised, red and scaly. While not typically itchy, skin may feel tight. It may peel or crack and in severe cases, may even bleed.
how to treat it
Dry, chapped skin whilst stressful for folks usually just needs a little extra care.
You can try to:
reduce the number of baby’s baths
Instead of daily baths, you can try washing bubs 3 x a week in tepid water. Then pat their skin gently to dry – never rub as it may aggravate the gentle skin layer.
avoid harsh shampoos
Cleansers + lotions that can dry out the skin or cause further irritation. Look for natural cleansers and moisturisers or perhaps a soap-free alternative if skin is particularly sensitive and delicate.
clean folds well
Keep baby’s face + skin folds clean and dry from saliva, dribbled milk or sweat.
If bubs has a cold, apply extra barrier cream around the nostrils to heal + hydrate.
Here’s a tip:
Like heat rash; dry, cracked or chapped skin should clear up within a week or so. But check to see if baby’s skin starts to look worse. If it’s infected, or is accompanied by a fever, seek help from your local GP or paediatrician.
what causes it
Eczema is a chronic skin condition that occurs when a baby’s skin barrier can’t keep moisture in and irritants out. As a result, their skin layer can become itchy, inflamed, and prone to dryness and infections. Interestingly, it is also commonly known to be inherited. There can be many triggers for eczema: including chemicals in lotions, detergents and shampoos. Also, certain fabrics in clothing and bedding may be known to irritate the skin. Eczema can commonly appear without rhyme or reason, in dry winter air or with heat and sweat in summer.
Baby’s skin may look extremely dry, with raised red bumps and flaky, scaly patches. Their skin may get quite itchy, with persistent scratching at times drawing blood. Patches of eczema may appear on bub’s arms, legs, scalp, forehead and cheeks.
how to treat it
As with most skin ailments, there is no one-size-fits-all cure to eczema. But there are things you can do to care for your baby’s super sensitive skin:
reduce the number of baby’s baths
Instead of daily hot baths, you can wash bubs 3 x a week in tepid water. Also, pat their skin gently to dry. Avoid rubbing as it may aggravate their gentle skin layer.
avoid harsh ingredients
Avoid harsh shampoos, cleansers or lotions that may dry out the skin or cause further irritation. Look for natural cleansers and moisturisers or perhaps a soap-free or eczema- specific alternative.
Keep skin well hydrated by moisturising daily, after baths or as needed.
here’s a great tip:
Keep bub’s nails short and use mitts to stop harsh scratching that will further irritate!
Unfortunately, there is no permanent cure for eczema. However, certain lifestyle changes and treatments may ease the condition and prevent future breakouts for baby. It may be a bit of trial and error, but you can always consult with a professional for advice.
what causes it
Nappy rash is one of the most common summer skin conditions. It’s caused by a buildup of acidity, moistness and heat which cause irritation in the nappy. Nappy rash is caused by skin irritation. It develops from moisture emanating from a baby’s wees or poos. Or, alternatively, from the nappy rubbing and chafing against the nappy area. But did you know it can also be caused by baby wipes, synthetic-based soaps and detergents? In addition to this, sensitive skin conditions can inflame nappy rash and make it even worse.
Throughout infancy, almost all babies will at some stage experience nappy rash. No matter how well you care for your baby’s delicate skin, it can still appear during the season of Autumn.
Nappy rash leaves your baby’s skin red, raw, itchy and tender to the touch.
how to treat it
apply a barrier cream
Apply a barrier cream that contains the ingredient Zinc Oxide. Spread it in the creases/folds of baby’s skin or in the nappy area. Zinc Oxide relieves and reduces inflammation and skin irritation. Apply a thick layer of barrier cream to affected areas of skin and avoid itching or further irritation.
ensure baby’s nappy area is dry
After taking bubs out and about and especially after feeding, always ensure that your baby’s nappy area is dry. And if there’s any sign of irritation, apply a Zinc Oxide barrier cream. It protects your baby’s skin from excess moisture and promotes healing.
know your nappy
When it comes to absorbency, not all nappies are created equal. So, it’s important to know your nappy. Understand how frequently you should be changing your baby to protect their skin from the acidity of a soiled nappy. Disposable nappies have a greater absorbency and can be changed roughly every 5 hours when soiled. Cloth nappies can’t draw moisture away from the skin in the same way and should be changed every 1-2 hours. It’s also important to remember that, like us, babies increase their fluid intake during warmer weather. In autumn, this will still mean more wet nappies, so more frequent changing is required.
dab don’t drag
While washing or drying baby, make sure you’re gently dabbing their skin. This will avoid further friction and damage to the skin’s barrier.
aim for nappy-free time
If there is a warm autumn day, why not get back to basics and bare the bottom. Aim for nappy-free time at least once a day. This gives your baby’s skin a chance to breathe and provides relief from possible irritants.
Is the weather too cool to go nappy-free? In autumn: simply change your barrier cream to one that has no nasties inside of it! Your local nurse or GP may suggest a natural remedy. This is because baby’s skin is super-sensitive and needs gentle protection even in the cooler months.
prevention of skin issues
tips on how to prevent common skin issues during autumn
soothe their dry skin with a bath
Bathing is often used as a soothing, hygienic ritual that promotes healthy skin relaxation and rejuvenation. So, much the same for newborns. Like us, bathing prevents common skin issues from occurring in autumn by cleaning away dirt, dust, and other impurities. Leaving a baby’s skin layer feeling warm and relaxed.
here’s a tip:
Bath time also gives your baby the fundamental sensory elements to help boost their brain development. Elements such as touch, bonding, attachment, eye contact, relaxation, stimulation, development and finally – helping you to read baby’s cues!
If bub’s dry skin is still flaring up after a bath, it may be a sign to rethink your products. Instead, consider natural ones that are plant-derived and clean. That contain no nasty additives or chemicals that will irritate a baby’s dry skin further.
here’s a tip:
You can also use this special time after a bath to exercise your baby massage skills!
Is your baby niggling and suddenly not quite so cheery? Are they having a hard time settling or sleeping, even with a nappy cream you’ve chosen? Perhaps it’s time to review that new over-the-counter product and its ingredients. Perhaps choose some natural, soap-free alternatives instead. Ones that are designed specifically for your baby’s delicate and sensitive skin. Ones without hidden chemicals that can be quite painful for bub’s red and raw nappy area.
when to seek medical advice
Is baby’s red flaky, inflamed skin still needing relief despite all your efforts? Sometimes there can be no permanent cure for chronic, highly irritated skin. So, when in doubt, always consult with a health professional for more advice.
maintaining a proper skincare routine in autumn
As soon as we let go of summer’s humidity, autumn’s cool change arrives. With crisp, dry air that can dry out a baby’s sensitive skin. This is because their epidermis is vulnerable and thin - making it difficult for their skin to hold in moisture. Also, autumn is a cooler season, that is essentially preparing us for winter. This means babies need to retain heat to stay warm too. And finally, due to the wind and dust, babies are also prone to dirt and impurities that appear in the crevices in their skin. Leading to skin irritation and infections that may seemingly appear out of nowhere.
techniques for protection in autumn
When it comes to autumn, a baby’s chances of being exposed to sunburn is still a reality. This is due to babies having less melanin pigment in their skin. Melanin is responsible for protecting the skin from harmful ultraviolet rays. Until babies grow and develop more, their skin will remain super sensitive and more vulnerable to the sun. So, protect your newborn baby’s skin by keeping it covered with out and about with the shade of your pram. Also, dress your baby in breathable layers, by popping on a beanie, booties and mittens too.
In autumn, the wind can dehydrate their skin, leaving it dry and chapped. But even simple things we aren’t aware of, like indoor heating can dry out baby’s skin too. A way to combat this is by boosting bubs with extra hydration in autumn to pump up their liquid intake. Give them extra formula or breastfeed them more frequently. Check their hydration by making sure they are producing enough wet nappies. Typically, this may be 6-10 nappies per day, but is different for every baby. So, you may find you need to take a bit of extra care with bub’s hydration routine in autumn.
What’s a parent to do? Here’s where a good cleansing routine comes in, with the right products to nourish your newborn baby’s skin in autumn.
but firstly … let’s understand the importance of a good cleansing routine
Proper, gentle cleansing in autumn can help maintain the health and texture of your baby’s dry and delicate skin. Perfecting your own after-bath cleansing routine will rid baby’s skin of autumn’s elements. Skin issues can include chapped lips, rosy, red cheeks, dry, itchy skin, dirt and other impurities. If not cleansed and bathed thoroughly, a build-up of sweat can also easily get stuck in their baby folds. Located in their arms, legs, underneath their chins. Irritation can also develop in their nappy area, which in some cases - may lead to infection and … loads of discomfort!
cleansing tips for maintaining a proper skincare routine
sponge baths vs. full baths
In autumn, it’s important to keep bubs clean, but not over-dry their skin. To do this, a sponge bath is recommended. It’s a great way to remove dirt and particles yet keep their natural skin supple without stripping them of moisture. Simply give bubs a quick swipe of their face and bottom with a warm wet washer minus the cleanser. Simply top and tail and freshen them up. You may also give their hands a wipe-over too. And when you’re tired? Bingo! It means you don’t have to fill the tub, fully undress your baby, and submerge them in the bath.
However, if a full bath is more your style, we can’t blame you mama. As it will be a precious bonding experience for you and your newborn baby!
temperature of water
In dry weather, did you know that a bath’s temperature can be lowered? This is so bubs won’t likely overheat and strip their skin of dryness. The water should be around 37-38 degrees Celsius. You can use a bath thermometer or if you don’t have one, use your wrist/elbow to test. It should feel warm, but not hot! Always use your wrist or elbows, never fingers, or hands. This is because our hands are used to hot water and not helpful in testing the temperature!
and remember … be gentle
A surefire way to connect with your baby’s autumn bath time ritual is to use a gentle washing technique. Cradling them under their upper back and neck. Then with your fingers encircling their upper arm so that they can’t slip under the water. Your other hand can then be free to wash your baby!
tips for an efficient moisturising routine
why you need to
Moisturising your baby after a bath does a lot of good. It adds softness + nourishment back into bub’s thin skin layer. It ensures that there are no dry or rough spots that may be missed. And in autumn, it combats flaky, itchy skin that the dry weather can bring.
choosing the right products
Just like cleansers, less is more when it comes to hydration products. A baby’s sensitive skin needs quality hydration all year round. This should include a natural, chemical-free moisturising lotion that keeps moisture in. To retain nourishment in a baby’s skin, it’s essential to apply it immediately after a bath. Do this by choosing the right lotion that has zero-nasties. That doesn’t contain synthetic ingredients + artificial scents. For these they may cause long-term dryness or irritation on baby’s skin.
For all-over smoothness after bath time, try choosing a rich moisturiser packed with plant-based goodness to replenish skin moisture. Also check to see if it is dermatologically tested. That when put on, it helps leave your baby’s skin feeling soft, calm and nourished.
proper moisturising techniques
apply when damp
After a bath when skin is slightly damp, apply the cream to the skin. Do this as it will absorb better when their skin is wet. According to dermatologist Dr. Dina Strachan at healthonline.com, she suggests this technique as it helps seal moisture in. “When skin is already damp, it's hydrated,” she states. “The moisturiser can either provide more hydration or just seal it in. This then helps reduce the chances of the baby’s skin becoming dry and flaky.”
According to momjunction.com, here are some safety measures you can follow when applying lotion to your newborn’s skin:
make sure there is no contact with baby’s eyes
Babies tend to put their hands in their mouth and eyes. If you have applied a generous coat of cream, it may cause a reaction.
apply lotion immediately
Apply moisturiser immediately after a bath to prevent dry, irritable skin.
use a chemical-free lotion
Don’t use a moisturiser that contains chemicals or synthetics as they may disrupt the skin and cause irritation and allergic reactions.
Don’t dip your finger or a spoon to take out the cream from the bottle of lotion. This will contaminate the cream. To do this, use pump bottles or airless jars instead. As direct contact from the tube to the baby’s skin will lower the risk of contamination.
here’s a tip:
If you think that your baby’s skin is drier than usual, you may apply lotion 2 to 4 times a day!
tips for maintaining a proper skin care routine for newborns during autumn
Keen to adopt a great after-bath skin care routine for your newborn in autumn? If so, let’s try some tried and tested tips to protect their skin from the elements!
remember to … choosing the right products
Avoid harsh chemicals and instead include mild and natural plant-based options.
remember to … use proper skin care techniques
With tried and tested after-bath washing techniques - like pat drying and moisturising.
clear the irritants away
Did you know that air fresheners may also affect our baby’s skin, especially if their skin is extremely sensitive? Check the chemicals + synthetics lying around your home. You may have to rethink your favourite candles, incense or room scents around the house and even in the car. In airing these spaces out, you can leave room for bubs to adjust to their new surroundings.
Furthermore, it helps to:
- - open windows and air out your home out regularly
- - vacuum your home frequently particularly in areas where baby is lounging or rolling across the floor
- - avoid extreme temperature changes by adjusting central heating and air conditioning
remove hidden nasties
Notice those pesky labels or frayed fabric that could be sticking out of your baby’s clothes or blankets? When buying any new bedding or clothing, you might double-check that there aren’t any hidden nasties!
Always remember to:
- - wash bub’s new clothing - to rinse away extra chemicals that may linger on the clothes in production
- - remove labels that could scratch or irritate the back of bub’s neck
- - cut away loose fibers or hairs that could become entwined tightly around bub’s fingers
avoid any tightness
Are you over-dressing your baby for the sake of autumn weather? To avoid their skin getting dry and itchy, let bub’s skin breathe in cotton, layered clothing.
Other things to be aware of:
- - wrapping bubs too tightly when swaddled
- - making sure your baby carrier is resting comfortably and not too tight around bubs
When taking your baby outside in autumn, they still need protection from the sun and heat. Think beanies, booties, longer sleeves and pram shades when you go outside. Remember to moisturise bub’s skin well and to hydrate them in autumn, so their skin gets enough moisture.
autumn is a time to:
- - keep their heads covered with a beanie
- - dress them in booties to prevent heat from escaping their body when outside. Yet, consider if these layers are necessary when indoors
- - offer bubs plenty of breast milk/water to avoid dehydration
Sensitive skin in autumn can cause lots of stress for newborns, parents and caregivers alike. The good news? It is completely normal and often manageable, especially coming into the autumn season! By maintaining a proper post-bath skin care routine for newborns, take the appropriate steps. Keeping your baby’s skin healthy and supple. And in time, you’ll no doubt be able to enjoy some quality time with your newborn baby!
And if bub’s dry and sensitive skin has no signs of slowing down? Then by all means – listen to your motherly instincts. Seek advice from your health nurse, local GP, or pediatrician, and keep forging ahead!