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Skin Care
Skin is the largest organ of the body and the normal health of the skin is as important and significant as the  health of any other organ. It constitutes about 13% of the baby’s total body weight.
Differences between the Adult and Baby Skin
The  infant skin  is more  vulnerable to any  external  applications or inadvertent contactants, which can not only cause skin irritation, but can also lead to accidental poisoning. Alcohol can cause local skin haemorrhage (bleeding within the skin).
The baby skin is more delicate and fragile as compared to an adult’s, since the elastic fibres are not yet completely matured.
The infant skin cannot effectively control either water or temperature loss through the skin.
Waxy outer Skin cover at Birth
When the baby is born, the skin is coated with a substance called “Vernix Caseosa” which comprises of fats (cholesterol and triglycerides), and wax like substance from the sebaceous glands (oil glands) and epidermis. The presence of this layer helps in minimising the loss of moisture through the skin and thus helps in retain- ing the moisture balance of the baby’s skin in the new environment that it’s come to live in.
Bathing a Newborn
Although a bath is a complete means of cleaning the baby, it is not essential to bathe the baby everyday (especially if the nappy area, the mouth and nose areas are cleansed timely and regularly). The bath can then be given on an alternate day basis.
It is not necessary to wait for the umbilical stub to fall off in order to start bathing.
The skin should be washed gently avoiding any possible trauma to the delicate skin.
The baby has arrived from a sterile and aqueous environment in the mother’s womb to the non-sterile, dry external environment. So, for the newborn, one should sterilise the bath water by first boiling and then cooling it. (The temperature of water should not be more than 37oC ).
A soap (solid or liquid), which is gentle for the baby’s tender skin (one with a neutral pH)  should be used for the bath,  taking care that soap  is rinsed off completely, especially from the skin folds.
Certain tips and a few words of caution
A bath for  the newborn  should not  last more  than five  minutes, since a longer contact with water causes the outer layer of the skin to swell up, thus increasing it’s fragility and susceptibility to friction.
Do not bathe the baby when he is hungry or just after a feed.
Do not bathe the baby when he is hungry or just after a feed.
Never leave the baby unattended, even when the baby is old enough to sit, since the baby can drown in less than 2 minutes in just 2 inches deep water.
Keep the baby towel, clothes, etc. ready before the bath begins. (Naphthalene Balls should not be used in the cupboards / wardrobes where baby’s clothes are stored).
Post-Bath tips
Pat-dry the baby gently, but thoroughly, especially taking care of the body folds.
Moisturise the baby’s skin with a moisturising baby lotion.
Gently powder the baby’s skin especially skin folds, but taking precaution that one does not raise a powder cloud that the baby could inhale. Inhalation of the talcum powder can lead to lung problems and difficulty in breathing. Powder in the skin folds helps in absorbing the moisture and preventing
maceration (sogginess of the skin).
Examine the umbilicus (navel area) to look for any redness, swelling and/or discharge. Always keep that area dry, which will help in early separation of the umbilical stub.
Care of the Scalp, Ears and Nails
Scalp can be cleaned with the baby soap itself. Shampoos are not essential.
Ears should be gently swabbed with cotton swabs, but not the canals. Never introduce oil in ears or nose.
Nails should be clipped short and kept clean at timely and regular intervals. A newborn’s nails grow very fast, therefore, it is necessary to cut them to prevent the baby from scratching his skin.
You must use baby size clippers or nail scissors. You should preferably cut the baby’s nail after a bath, as the nails are softened. Make the baby lie down or make him sit in your lap. You should press each finger away from the nail, so that the nail sticks out. Snip only the white part, leave a little so that you do not cut very low.
Care of the Baby’s Bottom
The skin of the bottom area is as delicate as rest of the body, but is the most vulnerable and susceptible to the constant use of cloth nappies and round the clock contact with irritants like stools and urine.
The baby’s bottom should be cleaned gently and carefully. Always clean / wash the girl children from front to back, especially while cleaning the anal area or else the bacteria in the stools can lead to infection in the genital area or a urinary infection. In boys, the foreskin should not be pulled back while washing the penis.
How to prevent a “Nappy Rash”
Use super absorbent disposable diapers. The super absorbent material (SAM) in disposable diapers absorbs large amount of urine and keeps it away from baby’s delicate skin, keeping it dry all the time.
Change the cloth nappies frequently.
When cloth nappies are used, a newborn needs a change 10 to 12 times a day, since a younger baby urinates and defecates more often. An older baby should be changed atleast 6 times a day.
Dab the skin folds dry.
Apply protective creams (barrier creams) containing zinc oxide paste after each cleansing to protect the skin.
The cloth nappies should be washed and dried properly and the detergent should be rinsed off thoroughly.

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