Our skin is an organ which is constantly changing and has different characteristics at different times in our lives.
One particular moment when it needs special care and attention is in infancy and, even more so, in the first couple of months of a baby’s life. During this stage, the skin is more sensitive and thinner than in adolescence and adulthood.
How is children's skin made up?
Even though the structure of a child’s skin is the same as that of adults (there are the same number of layers), it is not as thick. So it becomes irritated more easily when it comes into contact with chemical factors, such as overly aggressive cleansers, or physical agents, like cold winter temperatures.
Children’s sweat and sebaceous glands are also not as active as in adults. The hydro-lipid film, the mixture of hydrophilic and lipophilic (endogenous and exogenous) substances that helps keep skin hydrated and healthy, is not as developed.
It is also harder for children to regulate their body temperature than adults, so you need to take extra special care of sudden changes in temperature and the fabrics their clothes are made of.
If a child spends too long time in the heat with clothes that don’t allow the skin to breathe, he will sweat more and this can irritate his skin.
Skincare for babies
All this goes to show the importance of your baby’s skincare from the first days of his life.
Start with gentle cleansing, choosing a skin-friendly cleanser that doesn’t alter the skin barrier.
After baby’s bath it is also important to apply an emollient product, preferably enriched with essential epidermal lipids: ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids.
An emollient keeps your baby’s skin hydrated and healthy and can also help prevent the onset of atopic dermatitis.
Recent studies have shown that using emollients containing epidermal lipids from birth can reduce the severity of the symptoms of atopic dermatitis in children with a predisposition for this condition.
How to protect our children's skin from the sun
Another important aspect of your child’s skincare is sun protection. Make sure you protect it throughout the year, at the seaside and in the mountains.
The skin’s first defence mechanism against the sun’s rays is the production of melanin. Melanin is a pigment that protects the DNA of skin cells from damage caused by sun rays.
Skin pigmentation, as a defence mechanism against UV rays, is fully developed within the first few months of a child’s life. There is therefore no evidence of increased sensitivity to UV rays during infancy compared to adolescence or adulthood.
It has, however, been widely shown that there is a correlation between excessive and incorrect exposure to sun during infancy and the development of skin cancer in adulthood.
For this reason, it is important not to expose newborns and children to direct sunlight in the middle of the day.
Another important thing to remember is to always protect their skin with sunscreen with a very high SPF, preferably containing physical UV filters and that forms a uniform, water-resistant barrier over the skin.
The most common skin conditions
A child’s skin is prone to a series of dermatological conditions during the first months and years of his life.
The most common are cradle cap, nappy rash and infant acne. All these conditions are usually easy to treat or self-resolving but they still require a medical opinion to determine the diagnosis and the right treatment.
The same can be said for atopic dermatitis, which usually occurs during infancy and requires medical attention.
Children skin care products
Your child’s skin therefore needs special care from the first days of his life. Identifying the right baby skincare regimen with the help of your pharmacist and consulting your paediatrician whenever you suspect there may be an underlying condition, are key to keeping his skin healthy and ensuring a happy childhood.