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Kate Traverson

What Baby’s Skin Is Telling You

Identify common skin conditions by learning to spot these telltale signs.

Before baby arrived, you probably imagined that his or her skin would be perfectly smooth and unbelievably soft (and of course, smell amazing). Reality check: Infants, especially newborns, are still adjusting to life outside the womb and as a result, their skin can be dry, discolored and prone to irritation or rashes. (The delicious-smelling part? Still true.) To help decipher these symptoms, read our guide to spotting and treating the most common skin conditions, featuring protective products from Mustela. The company’s Bébé-Enfant line is free from chemical irritants and the products nourish and protect baby’s delicate skin.

What You See: Flaky areas.
What It Means: This is likely dry skin , which is common among infants since their skin is fragile and still developing. It’s even more noticeable during cold or dry weather when there’s less humidity in the air.
What to Do: Apply a thick moisturizer twice a day, such as Mustela Nourishing Lotion with Cold Cream. Ingredients like shea butter soften the skin, while the cold cream and ceramides create a barrier to lock in moisture. It’s also important not to overdo bath time—two to three times a week is plenty—since too much bathing can strip the skin of its natural oils. Choose a cleanser designed for dry skin, like Mustela Nourishing Cleansing Gel with Cold Cream, which cleans hair and body while offering complete protection against environmental conditions. In cold weather, use a humidifier to combat the dry air produced by your home’s heating system.

What You See: Red, flaky patches on baby’s face or skin folds (especially around the elbows, the backs of the knees or the neck).
What It Means: If allergies or asthma run in your family, baby might have eczema. Your pediatrician can diagnose the condition by analyzing the rash and talking to you about your family’s medical history.
What to Do: The best line of defense to avoid eczema outbreaks? Moisturizing baby’s skin starting at birth. Look for a product designed for eczema with a thick and creamy texture. Mustela’s fragrance-free Stelatopia® Emollient Balm and Stelatopia® Emollient Cream are recognized by the National Eczema Association for their effectiveness and contains lipid-replenishing ingredients. Keep bath time short and the water temperature mild—long, hot baths dry out the skin—and go with a cleanser that’s soap-free and non-drying, like Mustela Stelatopia® Cleansing Cream.

What You See: Skin that looks irritated or red when exposed to harsh weather or certain products.
What It Means: If it seems like skin issues flare up in response to certain situations, baby might have sensitive skin.
What to Do: Choose skin care products that are hypoallergenic, fragrance-free and preservative-free. Generally speaking, fewer ingredients are likely to eliminate anything that could irritate baby’s delicate skin. For bath time, use a mild cleanser that won’t cause dryness. If cold weather seems to be the culprit, shield baby’s face before heading outside by applying a moisturizing face cream specifically geared toward sensitive skin.

What You See: Tiny red bumps on baby’s cheeks, chin or forehead.
What It Means: Even though the teenage years are far away, baby can still experience acne. And just like in puberty, hormones are to blame.
What to Do: There’s no treatment necessary for baby acne. Once the hormones regulate (around age 4 to 6 months), it should clear up on its own. Just wash baby’s face regularly with warm water and avoid scratching or picking the bumps.

What You See: Oily, flaky white or yellow scales on baby’s scalp.
What It Means: Believe it or not, baby has the infant version of dandruff. Commonly known as cradle cap, this skin condition is usually seen in infants 2 to 4 weeks old.
What to Do: Gently wash baby’s hair with a mild cleanser that won’t irritate the scalp. Mustela Foam Shampoo for Newborns is a tear-free choice that won’t strip the skin of its natural oils or dry it out. This ultra-gentle shampoo is specifically designed for cradle cap and contains plant-based exfoliants that gently rinse away flakes. See your doctor if there’s no improvement after two weeks.

What You See: A mildly red rash on baby’s bottom where the diaper touches the skin (not in the folds).
What It Means: Baby has a common case of diaper rash. Nearly 60 percent of infants experience this skin condition in their first 12 months.
What to Do: Keep the area clean and dry as much as possible. That means changing diapers frequently (every two to three hours) and allowing for a little diaper-free time to air out baby’s bottom. Prevent further irritation by cleaning the area thoroughly with Mustela Dermo-Soothing Wipes, which are extra soft and contain soothing aloe vera leaf extract. Also apply a diaper rash cream containing zinc oxide with every change. Mustela Diaper Rash Cream 1 2 3 has 98 percent natural ingredients like Sunflower Oil Distillate and Avocado Perseose® to repair the skin.

What You See: A deep red rash in the diaper area, especially in the skin folds, with a border of little red dots.
What It Means: The dots are a telltale sign of a yeast diaper rash, a fairly common affliction—fungus loves a wet, dark environment like baby’s diaper. However, it requires slightly different treatment from a normal diaper rash.
What to Do: This special variety calls for an over-the-counter antifungal cream. In most cases, this type of treatment will quickly clear up the problem, but if there’s no improvement in 48 hours, call your doctor. Baby may need something prescription-strength.

The Bump and Mustela present Healthy Skin Solutions, a sponsored series full of tips and products to suit every skin type. Visit Mustela to learn more about the latest skin care innovations for mom and baby.

Photo: iStock