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The Facts of Skin Biology: Why Your Baby’s Skin is Different Than Yours

mommy and baby skin

OK, moms – time for a little fact or fiction:

  1. Your baby’s skin covers less surface area than an adult’s
  2. Your skin is drier than your baby’s
  3. A baby’s skin is thicker because it’s plumper

Surprisingly enough, all of these are fiction.  You know your baby’s skin is kissably soft, you know that all women strive to recapture the skin of their youth, but do you know why your skin is different than your baby’s? Read on for a little skin biology. After all, the more you know, the better you can care for your child, head to toe.

Fact #1:  Your baby has a larger surface area of skin than you do.  You may be wondering how any part of your baby can be bigger than an adult’s, but surface area is a function of total body weight. The lower a person’s body weight, the larger the surface area of the skin.  Now, before you bring out scratch paper and start solving ratios and formulas, here’s the bottom line:  your baby has a larger area to absorb irritants, allergens and bacteria from the environment. This is why you want to take extra care in protecting your child’s skin from sun and free radicals. How? A simple, daily regimen such as bath time and the right skincare products (like Pibu™’s Baby Butter and Bottom Balm) give your child the barrier she needs for healthy skin. And of course, the proper sunscreen and protective clothing, and limiting your child’s time in the sun are also critical.

Fact #2:  Your baby’s skin may be soft and supple, but can actually be drier than yours.  Why?  Well, your child’s skin absorbs – but also loses – water content more quickly than your own skin.  This is yet another reason why a good moisturizer should be part of your child’s morning and nighttime routine.  A good moisturizer provides a protective barrier that helps to retain moisture and replenishes what your child loses. Basic lotions are not enough as most lotions on the market are made up of primarily water which can further dry out skin. Creams or ointments are better moisturizers for little ones. Increased water loss and dry skin can also makes babies more prone to eczema.  Now, a common myth is that you shouldn’t bathe babies with dry skin – especially those with eczema – but clean skin is healthier skin and less susceptible to irritation or infection. Definitely continue your baby’s bath routine (keep it short and sweet), but feel free to step up the moisturizer, using an ointment that provides a stronger protective barrier.  Products like Pibu™’s Hydrating Ointment provide more intensive hydration for babies with especially dry or chapped skin.

Fact #3:  Your baby’s skin, as chubby and squeezable as it is, is actually thinner than your own.  First, here’s a little Dermatology 101.  Skin is comprised of two layers – the bottom layer which is the dermis, and the top epidermis layer.  A baby’s epidermis is not as fully developed as an adult’s, so it’s thinner and has smaller cells.  This means your child’s skin has an increased risk of bacterial growth and may be more prone to irritation.  Baby acne, diaper rash and cradle cap are a few examples of common infant skin conditions.  But don’t dismay – once again, prevention can be as simple as a daily regimen of cleansing and protecting your child’s skin.

We all know there’s an excess of parenting advice and information available, but sometimes understanding some basic differences can have the most impact.  You have the foundation, you have the knowledge and you most definitely have the love and motivation to do the best for your baby.

~ Happy Monday from the Baby Pibu™ Team

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