Table of Contents
Bringing a newborn into the world is one of the greatest pleasures of life. It conjures up a range of emotions from happiness and excitement to heightened worries and concerns. Your first instinct as a parent would naturally always be to keep the baby safe and when you see your newborn baby’s skin peeling, you may get worried and have a bunch of questions. Today, we will answer puzzling questions that new parents have regarding their newborn’s skin peeling such as:
- Is it normal for a newborn’s skin to peel?
- Why is my newborn’s skin peeling?
- How long does the newborn’s skin peel?
Is it Normal for a Newborns's Skin to peel?
To put your mind at ease, newborn skin peeling after birth is completely normal. Peeling can happen on hands, soles of the feet, ankles, and sometimes on the face. The flaky skin usually goes away naturally and doesn’t need any special treatment. However, if the flaky skin develops into a rash, your baby might need prescription medicine.
Why is My Newborns Skin Peeling Off?
When a baby is born, they are covered in amniotic fluid, the mother’s blood, and vernix. The vernix is a thick, waxy white substance that is found coating the baby’s skin and protecting it from amniotic fluid. After the delivery, the nurse will gently wipe off the fluids with a warm and soft towel. As a newborn can quickly lose body heat, they are placed under a heat lamp. Since the baby was living in fluid for months, a newborn’s skin peeling off in the coming weeks is absolutely natural.
It is also important to note that if a baby is born with more vernix, they will peel less skin later on. This explains why premature babies, born with more vernix tend to peel less as compared to babies born after 40 weeks.
How Long Does the Newborn’s Skin Peel?
Once the vernix is completely wiped off, the newborns skin peeling off of their body starts within one to three weeks. The peeling of skin depends on whether the baby was delivered prematurely, on time, or overdue. As we have mentioned above, time dictates the amount of vernix. At the time of birth, the less vernix a baby has, the less their skin may peel. Again, dryness and skin peeling are totally normal after birth.
Other Causes of a Newborns Skin peeling Off
A newborn’s skin peeling can be caused by little reasons like spitting and drooling. It can dry out and irritate the delicate skin on their face. Also, if the baby is exposed to the wind, sun, or cold, they may contribute to your newborn’s skin peeling. However, there are other reasons behind this occurrence. Let’s get to it:
Eczema can cause red and dry patchy skin on your newborn. This skin condition, also known as atopic dermatitis often occurs in infants under six months. It usually takes place on the baby’s face and scalp, however, it can spread to other body parts but not the diaper area.
Healthcare providers and pediatricians do not know the reasons behind this skin condition, but it is manageable. Keep an eye on allergies or detergents that worsen the outbreaks. Since water can negatively affect the eczema symptoms, it is advisable to keep the bath times to a minimum. If you wish to treat the symptoms then you must consult your pediatric dermatologist about options such as prescription medications, over-the-counter creams, and phototherapy.
Ichthyosis is a genetic condition that causes skin dryness and peeling. Newborns with Ichthyosis are born with an extra layer of skin called the collodion membrane. This membrane is typically shed by the baby before being born. However, it looks like plastic wrap and hinders the baby’s ability to move easily. This membrane can take several weeks to crack and peel off. Generally, babies with Ichthyosis are placed in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) under a high-humidity chamber. And since the babies are peeling their skin, it is a highly energy-consuming process and therefore your pediatrician might recommend extra feedings throughout the day.
How to Manage Your Newborns Skin Peeling Off
Even though a normal process, a newborn baby’s skin peeling can worry a parent nonetheless. Ergo, here are some homespun ways you can manage your newborn’s peeling skin and reduce dryness:
1. Reduce Bath Time
If you bathe your baby for a long time, it can remove natural oils from their skin, which can further cause dry and flaky skin. If you are bathing your newborn for 20 to 30 minutes, we recommend reducing it to 5 to 10 minutes. Also, replace hot water with lukewarm water and only use soap-free, fragrance-free cleansers. Regular bar soaps and bubble baths can increase skin peeling.
2. Dry your baby’s skin carefully
After the bath, use the towel gently on the baby’s skin. Instead of rubbing, pat the baby dry gently. Rubbing removes the naturally occurring oils from their skin.
3. Avoid harsh chemicals
Considering a baby’s sensitive skin, all harsh chemicals that may irritate your newborn’s skin must be avoided. Application of perfumes and scented products must be avoided as well. Even regular laundry detergents must be replaced with detergents made for the baby’s skin. These detergents are labeled ‘free and clear’ or ‘sensitive’ and are free from perfumes, dyes, and fragrances, and are usually better for washing baby clothes, bedding, and towels. Similarly, don’t use dryer sheets and fabric softeners.
4. Apply a Moisturizer
If you feel that your baby’s skin is too dry, you can apply a hypoallergenic moisturizer twice a day to prevent the newborn’s skin from peeling off. If it is done after the bath, it will help seal in the moisture. It can keep your baby’s skin soft and can ease dryness. You can start by gently massaging your baby’s skin and as you do it regularly, it may loosen the dry and flaky skin and ease the peeling.
5. Keep your Baby Hydrated
The best way to moisturize is to stay hydrated and the same goes for your baby. However, be mindful of the fact that babies aren’t supposed to drink water until they are about six months old unless your pediatricians say otherwise.
6. Protect your Newborn From Cold Air
When outdoors, protect your baby’s skin from the cold and blowing winds. Use mittens and socks to cover your baby’s hands and feet. For further protection, you can lay a blanket over your baby’s car seat or carrier so that your baby is protected from the wind and cold.
7. Use a Humidifier
To humidify the dry air in your house, use a cool-mist humidifier to increase the moisture levels. A humidifier eases the symptoms of eczema and dry skin.
8. Keep your baby away from the sun
Your newborn must be kept away from direct or indirect sunlight as their skin can be sunburned rather quickly. When you are outside, use an umbrella, head for the shade, or use a stroller’s canopy. Use lightweight cotton clothing to dress your baby to cover their arms and legs and also use a wide-brimmed hat.
When to Call Your Paediatrician
Following the first few weeks of normal skin flaking and peeling of the newborn baby, if your baby’s skin is still irritated, even after following the above-mentioned tips, you must consult your pediatrician. At times, flaky skin may cause an allergic reaction that might need prescription medicine. If the flaky skin is in the diaper area, it might be a diaper rash but if the rash looks severe, a pediatrician might help with the next steps.
Newborns Skin Peeling Off Final Conclusion
A newborn baby’s skin peeling off after birth is inevitable. It varies from baby to baby how much time they will take to shed the outer layer of their skin. All parents can do is manage it diligently and keep an eye on anything severe to keep the baby away from harm’s way. Again, if the skin condition is severe, you must speak to your pediatrician.