Newborns have very sensitive skin. They also have a tendency to
develop skin irritations or rashes within the first few weeks of
life. The following is a guide on skin care and the different types
of rashes common to newborns.
• Sponge bathe your baby's skin with warm water 2-3 times a week in
cool weather, everyday in warm weather. Newborns do not generally
get dirty enough to need soap for cleaning. Soaps are very drying to
the skin and lotions and oils attract dirt, so it is best not to use
them. Bubble baths are not advised because they can cause a
considerable amount of irritation to the urethra (the opening where
urine comes out) and possible bladder infections. Be sure to wipe
little girls from the front of the genital area towards the back or
bottom. This prevents infections. A moisturizing cleaner such as
Dove can be used on newborns because it does not dry out the skin.
Baby powder that contains talcum is not to be used on newborns or
babies. You may use a powder that contains cornstarch, especially
for the bottom. A moisturizing lotion without perfumes may be used
on very dry skin.
• Clean the baby's face with a wash cloth and warm water.
• Shampoo the hair with a tear-free shampoo 1-2 times per week. Be
sure to rub the scalp with a mild-moderate force to prevent cradle
cap (the accumulation of oil on the scalp and hair that hardens with
• Wipe the umbilical area (navel, belly button) with rubbing alcohol
with every diaper change until the cord falls off, usually in about
10 days. Do not pull on the cord to pull it off.
• Trimming the fingernails and toenails is easier on a sleeping
baby. If trimming while awake, have a second person help you hold
the baby's foot or hand to prevent accidental cuts. Trim weekly as
Rashes and other skin irritations:
• Diaper rash is by far the most common type of baby rash. Almost
all babies get some type of diaper rash during their infancy.
Moisture in the diaper area is usually the cause. Certain creams and
ointments may be helpful in providing a moisture barrier and thus
preventing diaper rash. Creams that contain zinc oxide are helpful
in healing skin irritated by a diaper rash. If your baby's diaper
rash does not heal within a few days, see your doctor as there are
many different types of diaper rash.
• Milia (tiny white pimple-like bumps) or newborn acne (tiny red
bumps) are very common on the nose, cheeks, chin and forehead. They
will disappear in 1-4 months. Do not squeeze them because you can
cause an infection and worsen the condition. Use only water to clean
the skin with the bumps, do not use oils because they may worsen the
• Erythema toxicum affects half of all newborns by the 2nd or 3rd
day. Red blotches with a whitish center approximately ½ inch - 1
inch in diameter can appear all over the body or in certain areas.
They will disappear within 2-4 weeks. They are completely harmless.
CALL 1061 OR SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL
ASSISTANCE If you suspect any skin infection or have any
further questions regarding your baby's skin.