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Everyone knows the phrase, 'soft as a baby's bum', and we use that comparison with good reason! A baby's delicate skin is super soft − and sensitive by nature.

Those same characteristics mean it's also common for many babies to develop dry or other skin concerns as a result. These are usually minor and temporary, but of course as a doting parent you're all over it, wanting to make your littl'un better as quickly as possible so they aren't in distress.

To care for your baby's dry skin most effectively, it’s first helpful to understand how baby skin differs from that of an adult, and what the common causes of skin moisture loss are in infants.

Dry skin on a baby’s head or body isn't cause for concern on its own, but it can share visible similarities with other skin issues such as mild eczema. So that you can provide the right care, this article walks you through the signs, causes and different features of dry skin on a baby.

Discover our nourishing cream specifically formulated for dry skin in babies, and develop a suitable approach to caring for your little one’s skin.

What causes dry baby skin?

Our outermost skin is made up of layers of cells held together by ceramides, fatty acids and lipids - a bit like bricks in a wall held together by mortar. This acts as a barrier to prevent moisture loss, and as a shield to protect the inner layers of skin from external aggressors like bacteria, pollution, and dirt.

During the first few months of life, a baby's skin is still developing. Whilst that's happening, their skin moisture barrier is thinner than that of adult skin. The layers are more fragile and prone to moisture loss. As a result, dry skin may be a regular occurrence for your baby.

Symptoms of baby’s dry skin

Moisture loss from baby skin occurs at a faster rate than in adults, so areas of dry skin can appear quite regularly. Mild dryness often doesn’t cause discomfort, so you might notice patches on their face or elsewhere before your baby shows any signs of distress. Symptoms of dry baby skin can include:

  • Rough-textured skin

  • Peeling or flaky skin

  • Dull looking skin

If your baby has developed dry or very dry skin, they may experience itching sensations, and skin that feels sensitive to the touch.

The difference between dry baby skin and mild eczema

Often appearing on areas of the body not usually affected by dry skin, and usually with a more pronounced appearance, mild eczema-prone skin can share some similarities in appearance with dry baby skin.

If you're concerned or suspect your baby may be showing signs of mild eczema, you should consult a paediatrician or dermatologist.

How to care for your baby’s dry skin

Fortunately, a number of gentle and supportive skincare products are specifically formulated to help strengthen and restore the skin moisture barrier and promote hydrated skin in babies. Ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin E, all have moisturising properties and are gentle enough for infant skin.

These three simple steps can help banish dry skin from your baby’s face and body:

1. Use a gentle cleanser

Cleansing baby's skin at bath time is important to get rid of dirt built up through the day and return your skin to a balanced and neutral state. To support dry skin, CeraVe recommends opting for a hydrating cleanser type.

For example, CeraVe Hydrating Foaming Oil Cleanser has been developed with dermatologists for dry skin, baby skin and mild allergy-prone skin. Gentle, hydrating ingredients like glycerin, squalane oil, and triglyceride combine to comfort, purify and moisturise the skin whilst protecting the skin moisture barrier.

For a combined cleanser and shampoo, CeraVe Baby Wash & Shampoo has been specially formulated to be pH balanced, soap-free, and enriched with ceramides for skin nourishment. Developed with paediatric dermatologists, the formula cleanses your baby's hair as well as skin.

2. Limit bath times

As much fun as daily bath time is, try to limit it to around 10 minutes, unless your little one has had a particularly messy day (is there ever a day when they don't???). Strictly-speaking, bath time is only necessary 2–3 times per week. As if you're gonna stick to that!

In addition to being uncomfortable (and they'll let you know!), water that's too hot can strip natural oils from the skin, so keep the water lukewarm.

Gently pat their skin dry with a soft towel and immediately moisturise to help seal in moisture. Stick to a soap-free wash that's alcohol and fragrance-free. Read our guide on newborn bathing to find out more.

3. Keep their skin hydrated

"Do babies need moisturiser?" is a question that gets asked a lot. And the answer is "yes".

Continuous loss of moisture from their skin means babies can often get dry patches. So regular moisturising is recommended to replenish that loss and help strengthen their developing skin. Some tips:

  • Choose the Right Product: Look for moisturisers that are fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, and designed for sensitive skin. Products specifically formulated for babies are usually the best choice.

  • Avoid Harsh Ingredients: Steer clear of products containing alcohol, fragrances, dyes, or other potential irritants that can be harsh on a newborn's sensitive skin.

  • Gentle Application: Apply the moisturiser gently, using soft, smooth strokes. Be careful around sensitive areas like the face.

  • Frequency: You can moisturise your baby’s skin once or twice a day, especially after baths when their skin is most likely to lose moisture. However, more frequent application may be necessary if the air in your home is very dry or if your baby's skin is particularly dry.

CeraVe Baby Moisturising Cream is formulated especially for your baby's delicate, sensitive skin. Three essential ceramides are blended with cholesterol and fatty acids to provide 24 hours of moisturising.

Found this guide helpful? Keep reading to discover our recommended skincare routine order.

Frequently Asked Questions about Dry Baby Skin

Should I moisturise newborn dry skin?

Yes, moisturising a newborn baby's skin is generally safe and can be beneficial if dry skin occurs. It's important to do so with care and the right products. Newborn skin is very delicate and more prone to irritation than adult skin.

Remember, a newborn’s delicate skin is adapting to a brand-new environment outside the womb, so some dryness can be normal as it does so. But proper skin care can help keep their skin healthy during that adaptation phase.

Why does my baby's skin feel rough, like sandpaper?

If your baby's skin feels rough or bumpy, it might be due to dry skin, or another common skin condition called keratosis pilaris (chicken skin), or it could be a sign of several other skin conditions.

If you have any concerns about your baby's skin, we always recommend you consult a healthcare professional. They can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment.

Remember, while keratosis pilaris and other skin conditions are not typically harmful, getting a professional diagnosis is important to ensure proper care for your baby's skin.

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