Image courtesy google.
When we say a soft as child’s skin we get the image of pink,rosy image that the television flashes, but is it?
The expression “still wet behind the ears” to describe someone who is inexperienced is inspired by the condition of a new born. A new born baby is generally covered with various fluids during delivery like, amniotic fluid, blood could be maternal or of the child, this kept the child safe and warm in the mother’s womb. The new born is also coated with a pasty, white material called the vernix caseosa which actually means made up of the foetus.
All this is cleaned off in the first bath. The first cleansing also prevents the rapid fall in the neonatal body temperature which would have occurred if the drying is left to nature.
Many parents are startled by mottling of the skin of the newborn. This is a lacy pattern of small reddish and pale areas, and this occurs quite often because of the normal instability of the blood circulation at the skin surface.
Bluing of the skin called as acrocynosis is sometimes seen for the same reason and this more in cold environment.
Red marks, and petechiae that is tiny specks of blood that have leaked from small vessels in the skin are quite often seen due to the trauma of squeezing through the birth canal. This disappears within the first two weeks.
Bearing down to cry or having a bowel movement sometimes turns the infants hye beet-red or bluish purple.
Some newborns particularly the premature ones exhibit lanugo or fine soft hair. This could be on the face, shoulders and back of the child this is usually because the child sheds most of this hair in the uterus before delivery but preterm babies may not. In any case this hair disappears in a few weeks.
Birth marks may not be seen in all babies, however sometimes salmon patches are seen in some babies. These are pink or red areas that disappear within the first year. These are called some really fancy names like angel’s kiss, stork bite and may be see on the bridge of the nose, eyelids or brows.
Then there are flat patches of slate blue or blue green colour that resemble ink stains and these are called the Mongolian spots. These fade away with age too.
Collection of capillaries could form a raised red strawberry like mark, which are pale at brith , it enlarges and becomes red in the first few months of birth and eventually gets absorbed within the first six years.
Cafe-au-lit spots are light brown coffee with milk like appearing spots on the skin of some infants, these cause concern only if they are large, or more than six on the body for they might indicate an underlying medical condition. however these do get darker with age.
Common brown or black moles or the pigmented nevi, could be present at birth or appear or darken as the child gets older. Larger moles or ones with unusual appearance should be brought to the doctor’s attention for they may require removal.
Prevention of occurance of rashes is a major concern. Some harmless rashes may be present at birth like discussed before some may appear during the first few weeks,. Tiny, flat yellow or white spots round the nose and chin are caused by the collection of secretion in the skin glands, these disappear within the first few weeks are called Milia.
Miliaria is another harmless condition that will go with the first few weeks with normal skin for despite its fearsome name it is a rash consisting of red blotches with pale or yellowish bumps at the center.
Pustular Melanosis is a condition characterized by brown blisters scattered all over the neck, back , and limbs. These disappear without treatment. Interestingly many children exhibit sucking blisters on fingers hands or arms because the foetus can suck while in the uterus.
Keeping the skin soft essentially means keeping it hydrated, free from rashes, scabs, and callus.
This is essential since supple skin means less tendency to tear and adequate body protection. Some ways we can keep the baby’s skin healthy would be —
- regular oil massage, we used coconut oil treated with tender teak leaves for both my daughters. Followed by warm water bath.
- Breast feeding at scheduled interval and once the child can take solid then introduction of light locally available food. Packed baby food would require greater water intake.
- Clothes of natural fibre that allows the child to breathe.
- Nutritious maternal health. So that the nutrient availability is there.
- Meticulous care of skin over the joints and between the fingers and toes as they are spots that tend to develop rashes.
- Cloth or linen diapers are the best as they allow air and keep the tissue dry yet hydrated. It also stimulates the proper functioning of the temperature regulatory system of the body. and they should be changed very regularly.
image courtesy google.
The skin which is the largest, and heaviest regulatory, protective and sensory organ of the human body undergoes vast changes from its intrauterine life to the neonatal to infancy. Once we are aware of it then we are able to take the relevant care that it calls for.
Thanks to Dr.Jayagowri Hadigal of Sonia Clinic Udupi. for her valuable inputs. Dr.Hadigal is practising Pediatrician for the past 35 odd years. She heads umpteen Pediatric Health care programs and Preventive Health Care program.
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