The largest organ of the human body, the skin, performs an extremely important role. It keeps the internal organs protected from damage. It’s a delicate organ and needs care. However, the care and attention it needs grow hundredfold when the skin in question is that of a baby. Why? Because a baby’s skin is different from an adult’s skin. It has a delicate and fragile structure and, hence, requires special care.
Let’s understand the anatomy of a baby’s skin—
The epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous layers are the three main layers of the skin. The epidermis’ outermost layer is known as the stratum corneum. It is also referred to as the “skin barrier” and consists of dead skin cells. These dead cells are shed approximately every two weeks. The stratum corneum or SC is the most important layer of the skin, which protects its inner layers.
How are baby and adult skin types different?
In terms of structure, composition, and function, infant skin is different than that of adults and older children. Baby skin experiences a dramatic change from an aqueous environment to a dry terrestrial one at birth. The neonatal skin keeps its development intact even after birth and continues to grow throughout life.
As mentioned above, baby skin is structurally very different from adult skin. The cells and collagen fibres in a baby’s skin are smaller than those of adults. Recent clinical findings show that infant SC or stratum corneum is 30%, and infant epidermis is 20% lower than those of adults. This means that baby skin is more porous and more susceptible to drying than adult skin. Baby skin is more vulnerable to chemicals and sun exposure due to its higher body surface-to-weight ratio.
Baby skin is different from adult skin also because of its dimensions. Besides, baby skin has a different composition than adult skin. It contains less natural moisturizing factors (NMFs), lipids, and melanin. Baby skin may be more water-deficient due to the lower levels of NMFs.
The pH of baby skin is also higher than adult skin. This indicates that it is less mature as a barrier than the skin of an adult. A clinical study that involved a large number of newborns found that the skin had an average pH of 6.34 right after birth. After four days, the pH dropped to a mean 4.95 and then to 4.7 within seven to thirty days. It is due to this acidity that baby skin has antimicrobial properties which help resist the growth of harmful bacteria.
Water handling properties, such as absorption or desorption, are also different. Infant skin can absorb more water than adult skin, but it loses more at a faster pace. This could explain why baby skin is more susceptible to dryness. Furthermore, as the baby’s immune system develops, there is a higher chance of irritations and infections.
So, it’s pretty evident that baby skin is more sensitive to the environment than adult skin. If not taken care of properly, it can become dry, susceptible to atopic dermatitis and nappy-dermatitis or even infection.
How to buy the right baby care products for your infant?
It is important to only buy reputable, tested products when you are looking for skincare products for your baby. Since baby skin is sensitive and susceptible to dryness and irritation, it is important to select skincare products that are gentle but effective and that protect baby’s skin against environmental irritants like dust and also their clothes and diapers. This is a quick guide for buying baby skincare products, irrespective of whether you buy baby products online or offline.
- Only purchase products that are specifically made for babies—
Baby skin should be moisturized, cleaned, and massaged regularly. It is sensitive to dryness and doesn’t respond well to products made for adults. Hence, it is important to select a skincare line that is specifically designed for babies. These products are gentler and protect your baby’s skin from irritation.
- Look for products that are free from dyes, parabens, phthalates, and other harmful chemicals—
Before you buy, make sure to read the label. Avoid harsh soaps and alcohol, as they can cause allergies and discomfort. Parabens, a preservative commonly found in cosmetic products, should be avoided. Parabens may be more easily absorbed by infants than they are by adults. This could make them more susceptible to potential adverse effects. You should also be aware of dyes that are unnecessary additions to baby products. Research has shown that phthalates can also be dangerous and have been linked to a variety of disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), asthma, neurodevelopmental problems, low IQ, behavioural issues, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ASD), and autism spectrum disorders.
- Be extra cautious while buying “natural” products—
India has no regulations regarding the marketing of a product as “natural”. Don’t be fooled by the label. The label “100% Natural” does not guarantee that the product is free from harmful additives and preservatives. Before purchasing any product for your baby, make sure you read about all the ingredients. You should check for any chemicals or other ingredients whose names you don’t recognize. To ensure safety for babies and young children, research unfamiliar ingredients before you buy.
- Hypoallergenic products—
You should always use hypoallergenic products for your baby – they are designed to minimize allergic reactions. Make sure the products you pick are gentle enough to be used on sensitive skin.
- Pay attention to pH balance—
Buy a product that is pH neutral. This will ensure that your baby’s skin remains healthy and balanced. Such products will also protect the skin from environmental irritants. Remember that the skin can become dry and itchy if the pH balance is not right.
Common baby products found on the market include shampoos, soap bars, baby oil, baby lotions, and so on. Make sure the products you pick are nourishing to ensure soft and smooth skin for your baby. It’s only with good products that your baby’s skin will remain healthy. Also, while buying a baby care product online; make sure you buy it from a brand you can totally trust.