Fewer Baths for Baby May Contribute to Better Skin Health

Fewer Baths for Baby May Contribute to Better Skin Health
by Corinne M. Howington, MD
Low Country Dermatology

Do you bathe your baby every day? If so, you may be putting your child at risk for a long-term skin disease called atopic dermatitis. “Atopic” refers to a tendency to develop allergy conditions. “Dermatitis” means swelling of the skin.

Children who develop atopic dermatitis, also sometimes called eczema, usually do so during their first year of life. It causes itchy skin that is red, warm and tender, often on the scalp, forehead and face. While there are treatments that can help, recent studies suggest that atopic dermatitis can be avoided altogether with simple steps.

I generally recommend to my patients that babies should be bathed no more than three times a week. Furthermore, I encourage parents to be aware of what is in the baby wash and shampoo and make sure their baby’s skin is properly moisturized by applying a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic moisturizing lotion immediately after the bath to help keep the skin from drying out.

Research recently published in The Wall Street Journal (11/4, D3, Linden, Subscription Publication) suggests that atopic dermatitis in infants can be prevented with proper skin care and perhaps fewer baths, no more than three a week. Similar recommendations have been published by The American Academy of Pediatrics on its website.

Parents should consider these tips to help reduce the risk of atopic dermatitis in infants:

• For the first year, give baths no more than two or three times a week to avoid drying out the baby’s skin.
• Apply moisturizer liberally immediately after the bath. Putting it on when the skin is still moist will seal in the water.
• Use mild, non-soap cleansers designed for a baby’s skin. Fragrance-free is best. Even herbal ingredients can be irritating to the skin.
• Thicker or oily moisturizing products are better at keeping the skin moist.
• Consider products with the National Eczema Association’s seal of acceptance. These don’t contain ingredients that are known irritants to sensitive skin.

Environmental factors such pollutants and indoor heating can also disrupt the infant’s skin’s ability to keep moisture in and allergens and microbes out. The condition usually occurs before the age of 18 months, when a baby’s skin is still developing. It can be very uncomfortable and may come and go for months or years. If not treated properly, the condition could lead to skin infections.

While I strive to focus on prevention, if the condition develops, I can help parents learn how to take care of their baby’s affected skin and recommend safe and effective treatments to relieve much of the discomfort of atopic dermatitis.

Low Country Dermatology specializes in the treatment of adult and pediatric diseases of the skin, hair and nails. Dr. Corinne Howington is a board certified dermatologist, with expertise in medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatology. Low Country Dermatology is located at 310 Eisenhower Dr. Suite 12A Savannah, GA 31406. For more information, visit lcderm.com .

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Cecilia Russo
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