Written by Lisa Allen | Edited by Dr Mark Kapnoudhis
The process of skin formation starts during fetal growth after 5 weeks of pregnancy. The epidermis layer of baby skin is said to consist of only two parts, namely the outer layer of cells called periderm and the inner layer called basal. Initial hair growth starts nearly after 8 weeks.
After that the skin growth happens in several stages. The first notable stage is called stratification of the epidermis layer. This is when a middle skin layer starts forming between the basal and periderm. This layer contains the hair follicles or roots. This stage starts at 9th week. Nails formation in fingers and toes happens between 11th and 12th week.
By 15th week the process of hair loss and new hair formation would be complete. Complete growth of eye brows and lashes is said to be complete by 15 weeks. The skin becomes completely opaque by 32 weeks and gets the skin complexion. Hair colour, skin texture and other related skin characteristics get fixed by 33 weeks.
Infant Skin Physiology Development
The newborn infant physiology is said to be healthy and fully functional at the time of birth. The epidermis layer is thick enough to protect the skin from any infections.
The amniotic fluids in the womb contain many skin care and protection ingredients for the baby. The fluid index is normally between 8 and 18 during pregnancy. As the time of childbirth approaches, the level of fluid gradually comes down. It may come down to index value between 14 and 10 at the time of childbirth.
- In the initial stages this liquid is pure water up to 88%. The remaining ingredients will be made of baby skin cells and salt.
- As the pregnancy progresses, this liquid will contain essential nutrients, antibodies for baby skin immunity, hormones from the mother needed for baby growth in the womb and other vitamins.
- The fluid helps in the skin development through the various stages listed in the beginning of this article. It acts a shockproof cushion for the baby skin and body.
Once the bay is delivered the umbilical cord is cut off and she becomes independent being. A thick protective layer called vernix surrounds the newborn skin which guards the baby skin against the direct impact of amniotic fluids on the skin. After birth this layer goes away naturally as the baby is bathed regularly.
At this stage the baby skin starts peeling. In some cases the baby skin which gets peeled off may appear to be dry, but the new skin cells would be moist in nature. Skin peeling happens mostly in chest, back, hands and legs. It could also happen on other parts of the body.
This is said to be a normal process which might continue for several weeks after birth after which it stops naturally. According to dermatologists there is no need to worry about it for the mother. The newly emerging skin layer would be fresh and moisturized without any traces of dryness.
This phenomenon is said to happen as a part of regular skin development when the baby skin is healthy and in normal conditions. But there are many instances when the skin peeling could be due to other reasons like eczema which is caused by soaps and detergents allergy.
In case the skin peeling is higher than usual levels you need to consult your paediatrician and take proper guidance for treatment. It is suggested that you avoid any DIY approach on your baby skin until she is at least 4 months of age. It is for the simple reason that you won’t be familiar with the nature of her skin as it keeps evolving.
Balancing Healthy Skin Physiology in Baby
Once your baby reaches 4 months of age you will be able to take some measures at home for her skin protection and care. Consult your paediatrician before applying any of the homemade skin care solutions explained in this section.
- Take 1 teaspoon of honey, 1 teaspoon of milk, 1 teaspoon of essential oil and mix in a bowl. Apply on your baby skin before you bathe her. It helps in revitalizing her skin as well as provides moisture.
- The combination of vitamin C oil with olive oil and coconut oil can help in providing skin vitalizing ingredients to your baby. Take 1 teaspoon of each ingredient and mix well in a bowl. Apply evenly on your baby’s skin to form a thin coat. Let the skin absorb them by allowing a time of 15 minutes. Then you can wash with warm water.
- Skin treatment to eczema can be provided by adding ½ cup of Epson salt to your baby’s bath tub water. The salt content provides immediate relief to itching and heals skin inflammations. According to dermatologists this treatment is to be accompanied with the treatment given for eczema.
Exposure to sun may cause pimples and red patches on your baby skin while she is growing from 6 months. In spite of the protective clothing she wears it is common to observe such symptoms especially during summer.
- Take 1 teaspoon of essential oil, 1 teaspoon of honey, 1 teaspoon of coconut oil and 1 teaspoon of Aloe Vera liquid and add them to her bating tub which contains about 2 to 3 litres of warm water. Let soak it into her skin for about 15 to 20 minutes before drying her skin with a towel. Don’t worry about the traces of essential oil on her skin as they get absorbed. This recipe is known to provide a thin layer of sunscreen to the epidermis layer. You can repeat this procedure twice a week to get good results.
Anatomy and Physiology of Baby Skin
Even though the anatomy of a 6 month or older child resembles that of an adult (diagrammatic preview can provide you ideas about them), it is still in the process of developing any of the skin elements like collagen, amino acids, antioxidants etc. The elements get added through food and natural skin care ingredients with time.