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Acne 101

Posted Aug 24 2008 1:49pm
ANNOUNCER: Bringing your newborn home is cause for celebration. However, many first-time parents worry that they are ill-prepared to care for their baby. And skincare is often one of their concerns.

LAWRENCE F. EICHENFIELD, MD: Bathing actually has some very good benefits for babies. It gets rid of crud on the skin. It removes stool and urine on the skin, which can be irritating. It may remove antigens or allergens that are on the skin. We generally use mild soaps. Regular bathing is reasonable. On the other hand, that doesn't mean that you bathe a child four times a day because the more bathing that you do, actually the drier the skin becomes. So probably bathing every other day is perfectly reasonable.

ANNOUNCER: If the skin is dry use a moisturizer.

LAWRENCE F. EICHENFIELD, MD: We generally stay away from those that are heavily fragranced, and most people will use baby lines of lotions.

ANNOUNCER: There is no formal schedule that parents must follow when it comes to washing their baby's hair.

LAWRENCE F. EICHENFIELD, MD: You could probably do it once a week or twice a week and that would be fine, or you could do it with each bath. Some people will use the same soap that they're using on the skin or there are some specific baby shampoos.

ANNOUNCER: A baby's umbilical cord area generally doesn't require any special care.

LAWRENCE F. EICHENFIELD, MD: Soap and water is all you need to do to care for the umbilical area. Parents should keep an eye out for any signs of redness or anything that might be an infection.

ANNOUNCER: Infants can develop skin eruptions in the first few weeks of life.

LAWRENCE F. EICHENFIELD, MD: These sets of bumps are things that have been called neonatal acne, and in some cases, it's actually neonatal acne. In many cases, it's not acne at all. It's actually a distinct entity, and they are just superficial pus bumps.

There is really no need to treat them. We just watch them go away over time. If it's a more severe case, it's appropriate to go see your physician.

ANNOUNCER: Cradle cap, a version of seborrheic dermatitis, can develop on a baby's scalp.

LAWRENCE F. EICHENFIELD, MD: It presents with either sort of scaly, waxy, yellow, occasionally pinkish area. It's a very mild form of dermatitis. There are several ways you can treat it. Number one, you can just use moisturizers or a little bit of oil. If there is a lot of whitish scale, you can pull off that scale very gently, either by soaking it with water or by putting some baby oil and then a soft toothbrush and sort of debriding or very superficially pulling off the scale. For more severe seborrheic dermatitis, we'll generally use anti-inflammation medicines such as over the counter one percent hydrocortisone just for a few days, which is highly affective at taking care of the cradle cap.

ANNOUNCER: Fifteen to 20 percent of children develop eczema in their first year of life. The condition can range in its severity.

LAWRENCE F. EICHENFIELD, MD: The most common eczema is atopic dermatitis, and it presents with these itchy, red, inflamed areas of skin in babies very commonly on the cheeks or on the outer surfaces of the body, and within a few months, getting into the body folds or creases.

ANNOUNCER: While there is no cure for eczema, treatments can reduce symptoms and help prevent attacks. Treatments are based on the appearance of the skin, age and family history.

Many new parents also become worried about the birthmarks present on their baby's skin.

LAWRENCE F. EICHENFIELD, MD: The little red spots that are present over the eyes and occasionally over the forehead or the nose, which are called angel's kisses, or the little flat pink spots that are present at the back of the neck, which are called stork bites. These are nonevents when it comes to birthmarks. They're transient, and they'll go away. Sometimes the ones on the back will persist, but they never cause a problem. On the other hand, other birthmarks may be significant.

ANNOUNCER: There are many different types of birthmarks. If you notice them on your baby's skin talk to your child's peditrician. He or she will be able to provide you with more information.

Exposing an infants skin to the sun can have serious consequences.

LAWRENCE F. EICHENFIELD, MD: If you have sunburns in the firsts few years of life, you've greatly increased your risk of skin cancer, both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer over a lifetime.

To avoid sunburn, keep your baby out of the sun during peak exposure times. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not using suncreen on babies under six months of age. Instead, use clothing and shade to protect the skin. Sunscreen may be used on babies over six months of age.

LAWRENCE F. EICHENFIELD, MD: You want to use a minimum of SPF-15. When we get to have intense exposure over spring and summer months, we'll boost it up to an SPF of 30, occasionally higher.

ANNOUNCER: If infants are in humid environments or over-clothed they can develop heat rash or prickly heat.

LAWRENCE F. EICHENFIELD, MD: It's probably due to an obstruction of the sweat duct very superficially and it gives this sort of red, blotchy rash. It's very easy to treat. Just open the child up to air, keep the environment a little bit cooler and it will go away within a few days.

ANNOUNCER: Infant skin is vulnerable, but with proper care and treatment, parents can keep their new baby's skin healthy and clear.

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