Your newborn baby is the apple of your eyes. While the arrival of this bundle of joy in your life may still be sinking in, your baby’s weird skin conditions might baffle you. You soon realize that those fluffy, cute pictures of newborns on artful upholstery were anything but true. Although everyone around you will definitely assure you that everything is quite normal, you may still be concerned. And, rightly so, since your baby’s skin exhibits drastic changes in a short span of time. To put some of those doubts to rest, here are a few interesting facts about your baby’s skin (which probably every new mother should know):
1. What’s With That Skin Color?
Most newborns are born with a reddish-purple skin color, which you may be quite surprised to see. The hands and feet may also show a hint of blue. But this is nothing to worry about it. Irrespective of their race or ethnicity, all newborn babies exhibit similar skin orientation immediately after birth (1). This is due to a temporary lack of oxygen caused by the umbilical cord compression during the last few moments of birth. As soon as the baby’s lungs re-start pumping and oxygen enters the blood circulation again, the skin color will return to its normal pinkish tone.
2. Fine Body Hair
During the second trimester, babies develop fine hair all over the body called Lanugo (2). Although they generally shed it in the womb, some babies, especially those born early, may continue to have this hair even after birth. However, they shed this hair too very soon, which is absolutely normal.
3. The Thin Oily Film
While still inside the womb, a baby’s skin is covered with a thin, protective oily layer called vernix caseosa (3). This cheesy, oily layer protects the baby’s delicate skin. It also works as a skin defense mechanism both inside and outside the womb to help retain the baby’s skin moisture. So, do not try to wash it off too quickly. Check with your doctor before doing so.
4. A New Skin Color? Again?
Yes! And this time, it’s yellow! Most newborns are generally born with jaundice which gives a slight yellow tint to the skin and the eyes (4). This is because newborns have a high level of bilirubin. Since their livers are still developing, they cannot regulate such high levels of bilirubin effectively. Generally, the effect of this jaundice wears off within 2 weeks or so with proper breastfeeding and care. However, if it persists for a longer time, make sure you visit the doctor immediately.
5. Fragile, Delicate Skin
Agreed your baby may look chubby and in the ‘pink’ of health. But do not take your baby’s skin for granted because it is extremely delicate and fragile (5). You may find the vernix caseosa peeling off, but do not try to scratch it out or use brushes on your baby’s skin to remove it during a bath. It may prove to be harmful to your baby’s skin. Also, avoid using chemically-laden baby products or those with high amounts of perfume in it.
6. Final Skin Tone
No matter what skin color your baby is born with – pink, reddish-purple, blue, or even yellow – eventually it will all wear off in a few weeks’ time. Thereafter, your baby may take a few weeks to a few months’ time to settle into a final skin tone. Your baby’s final, natural skin tone is determined by the parents’ genes. Therefore, you may find his/her skin tone slightly lightening or darkening during this phase. Again, this too is normal.
We hope that this update gives you a better idea about your newborn baby’s skin. Now that you know, we are sure you’re well-prepared to deal with all the challenges of handling such a delicate being. While you are at it, do not forget to approach your doctor immediately if any condition persists for longer than 2 weeks. Your baby is precious – handle with care!