Baby Problems

Causes and Solutions of Peeling Skin on Newborn

Peeling skin on newborn or baby skin peeling for a certain is totally normal depending on the weather and baby skin types. Sometimes it can be unnatural like “3 month old baby skin peeling” and “7 month old baby skin peeling”.

Having a newborn is very exciting for parents. But sometimes, handling it can be terrifying, especially for first-time parents. As the new parents do not have much experience in taking care of newborns, their fragility makes parents panic. 

Most of the first-time parents are concerned when they notice that their baby’s skin is peeling. They immediately start worrying that their newborn may have imperfect skin. You may check our recent publication on: can babies eat oatmeal?

But as a baby’s small and fragile body goes through a ton of changes within the initial weeks of life, sometimes these changes can cause skin peeling on any part of the body.  However, peeling skin is very common and natural for newborns.    

Where is the Newborn Baby Skin Peeling?

where is the newborn Baby skin peeling
Where is the Newborn Baby Skin Peeling

As a doctor I frequently get answers like:

  1. baby peeling scalp
  2. dry skin on newborn face
  3. baby feet red
  4. newborn dry skin peeling

In 70% of cases, newborn baby skin peeling in any part of its body is natural and does not need any remedy. Infant skin peeling in different body parts varies from baby to baby according to the environment. Sometimes it can be unnatural and reading this full article will explain what to do when?

Is Peeling Skin on Newborn Normal?

After bringing a newborn into the home, parents expect their child to have soft, smooth, and flawless skin. But when their newborn’s skin begins to peel off, the first thought may come to the parents’ mind, is it normal for newborns skin to peel? Or not?

So it would be a great news for parents that peeling skin is totally normal for the newborns and it also heals soon. Generally, within the first month after birth, all newly born babies drop their outer layer of skin. This exfoliation happens because babies spend months surrounded by the protective liquid in their mother’s womb.

So just after birth, babies are disclosed to dry air which is a totally new environment for them. To adjust with the new world outside of the mother’s belly, babies get rid of their old skin and create a new strong layer of skin. That is why sometimes before leaving the hospital or promptly after coming back home, parents see peeling skin on their little one’s body. 

However, the amount of peeling depends on the baby’s gestational age at birth, such as whether it is premature, delivered on time, or overdue. Infants who are born prematurely or before 40 weeks (approximately 9 months) are probably going to have less skin-stripping than newborns born nearer to term, or after more than 40 weeks.

Is Peeling Skin Painful?

is peeling Sskin painful
Is Peeling Skin Painful

As newborn skin peeling looks very unusual, a typical fear among first-time parents is whether their newborn is feeling any suffering from peeling skin. But peeling skin is not painful at all. It is a natural consequence of pregnancy. 

Most of the cases, babies do not notice their peeled-off skin. As it is mentioned above, babies need to grow a new layer of skin to maintain a balance with their new environment outside of the womb. This skin exfoliation is very important for the baby’s usual growth.

Why do Babies Face Peeling Skin?

why do babies face peeling skin
Why do Babies Face Peeling Skin

When a baby is born, we find it covered in a thick paste. This is a mixture of amniotic fluid and the mother’s blood. Amniotic fluid is a fluid in which a baby lives during gestation. This fluid helps to keep the baby safe inside the womb. And it also helps with passing nutrients from mother to baby. Something like wireless charging.

Around the 17th to 20th week of pregnancy, a white thin layer of protective wax settles on top of the fetus’s skin. The waxy outer layer is made of water, proteins, and lipids. This creamy thick, cheese-like matter is called vernix caseosa or vernix. 

The vernix is an extremely important substance as it protects the baby from absorbing too much fluid while living in the womb. It also acts as a natural lubricant during labor and provides antibacterial protection at the time of birth.

All other fluids, like- amniotic fluid, are washed away from the baby’s body immediately after delivery. Interestingly, to protect the newborn’s skin during delivery and afterward, the vernix stays on the baby’s skin and gradually flakes off later in the coming weeks. 

Newborns who spend more time in the womb will in general have less vernix on them at the time of birth. However, this happens because the baby’s skin has had more contact with amniotic fluid. And this leads to excessive skin stripping.

#07 Causes of Peeling Skin on Newborn beside Normal Peeling

01. Eczema or atopic dermatitis

peeling skin on newborn: eczema or atopic dermatitis
Eczema or atopic dermatitis

Eczema or atopic dermatitis is an irritation that causes dry, itchy, red spots on your baby’s skin. There can be a couple of reasons for developing eczema. Firstly, babies may suffer from eczema if it runs in the family. If any parent or someone in the family has allergies, the baby is likely to have the same increases. 

Secondly, a skin barrier problem can allow moisture to escape while letting germs in. And sometimes, the baby’s body fails to generate enough fat cells (ceramides) and the skin becomes dry.  These fat cells are waxy or oily molecules that help the skin to retain moisture.

Among the population, around 20 percent of babies suffer from Eczema. It is very common during childhood years. Though eczema is neither life-threatening nor contagious, taking medical advice is good for the baby’s skin.

02. Ichthyosis vulgaris or congenital ichthyosis

peeling skin on newborn: ichthyosis vulgaris or congenital ichthyosis
Ichthyosis vulgaris or congenital ichthyosis

Ichthyosis Vulgaris or congenital ichthyosis is known as fish scale disease. It is a condition resulting from dry skin which seems thick and peeling. Among 250 people, 1 can be affected by this common skin problem. If one of the parents has this problem, there is a 50 percent chance that the baby will also inherit it. However, long frequent baths, use of scented soap or perfume, and exposure to heavy cold or dry air can cause ichthyosis Vulgaris. So if your newborn has extremely dry, cracked, and scaly skin, see a doctor.

03. Cradle cap (Seborrhoeic Dermatitis)

It is a skin disorder that causes red, fatty, itchy, swollen skin. Approximately 40 percent of children and babies suffer from this skin problem. Mostly this appears on the head skin. Though cradle cap is not a harmful condition, sometimes it might get infected. Visit a doctor if you are concerned about the skin infection.

04. Baby acne

peeling skin on newborn: baby acne
Baby acne

Tiny oily red or white bumps or pimples that grow temporarily on a baby’s face or body are known as baby acne. Yes, around 20 to 30 percent of newborn babies develop acne problems. It only happens in the first few months of life. The reason for developing baby acne is still unknown to doctors. It can occur because of the reaction to breast milk, formula, or medication. Drinking abundant liquid, using a gentle cleanser, and covering the baby’s little hands with mittens will stop the baby from scratching the acne.

05. Erythema toxicum

Erythema toxicum are rashes, tiny bumps, or red blotches. It is found on a baby’s face, chest, or limbs within the first couple of days after birth. It is not harmless at all and disappears within a week.

06. Milia

peeling skin on newborn: milia

Milia is another common skin condition that appears within a few weeks of birth. These are tiny white bumps that develop on a baby’s face. These appear when dead skin cells are trapped in tiny compartments of skin. 

07. Areas where peeling skin are found

As babies have been living in fluid for many months, it is natural that their initial one to two layers of skin will peel off in the following weeks after birth. Generally, skin peeling can strike anywhere on a baby’s body, but it is especially seen on fingers, hands, toes, soles of the feet, ankles, face, and lips.

Newborn Skin Peeling off Intentionally by Parents?

newborn skin peeling off intentionally by parents
Newborn Skin Peeling off Intentionally by Parents

To prevent skin peeling, parents sometimes intentionally start to pluck skin off from the baby’s body.  It is highly recommended that parents should not pluck skin from newborns. Because plucking skin off from the baby’s body can damage the baby’s delicate skin. 

They might get hurt from this. Moreover, it can be a cause of tear skin and bleeding. And this may also lead to a skin infection. As newborns’ skin peeling is a natural act and babies do not feel any discomfort, so parents should avoid putting any pressure on the peeling skin.

#12 Home remedies for peeling skin on newborn

If babies seem uncomfortable because of their peeling skin, try to make them as comfy and cheerful as possible with love and special care. The methods listed here will guide parents or caregivers during the whole skin peeling period-

01. Limit baby’s bath

peeling skin on newborn: limit baby’s bath
Limit baby’s bath

It is very important to bathe babies, but lengthy showers can wash moisture away from a newborn’s sensitive skin. Additionally, it can remove natural oils and leave the child more vulnerable to peeling skin. Excessive baths can impose adverse effects on a baby’s skin. 

That is why parents should limit the amount of time babies spend in the bathtub. Bathing babies should not take more than 10 minutes. Frequent bathing should also be avoided. Frequently bathing using harsh soaps will dry out the little one’s skin. 

The newborns do not require to use cleansers on areas other than hands, feet, genitals, and the poop explosion spots. Their stomach, back, and other areas can be rinsed off with water. So for newborns a short bath once a day with a gentle cleanser is better.

02. Use lukewarm water to clean newborn

peeling skin on newborn: use lukewarm water to clean newborn
Use lukewarm water to clean newborn

Hot water particularly dries out the skin of newborns. If the infant is experiencing skin peeling, using water that is too warm will create skin problems. 100° F or 37.78° C is the perfect water temperature for a newborn’s sensitive skin. If you want, you can add a drop or two of baby bath oil to the water to hold the baby’s moisture.

03. Try oatmeal bath

peeling skin on newborn: try oatmeal bath
Try oatmeal bath

Study shows that use of oatmeal can reduce irritation and itching. Colloidal oatmeal is very beneficial to extremely dry skin.  It contains vitamin E, anti-inflammatory properties, phenols, starches, and other benefits. It prevents the baby from scratching any damaged skin. 

Add a few tablespoons of oatmeal to a lukewarm bath and keep the baby in the bath to soak it for a few minutes. Then rinse off your baby with a little water and put on the preferred moisturizer. Oatmeal bath treatments can be easily found in drug stores, natural food stores, or online.

04. Choose baby-friendly products

peeling skin on newborn: choose baby-friendly products
Choose baby-friendly products

If a newborn’s sensitive skin gets in contact with chemicals, there is a high chance that the baby’s sink may become damaged.  Avoid applying chemicals on the baby’s skin, such as perfumes or soaps with fragrances. Always use baby-friendly or organic products.

05. Avoid using adult products

peeling skin on newborn: avoid using adult products
Avoid using adult products

To prevent peeling skin, only wash your newborn with products specially made with natural components for babies. The cleanser that adults use for themselves can contain unnecessary chemicals in it. Using those will definitely harm a newborn’s mild skin. Baby-friendly soaps, shampoos, moisturizers, and detergents are beneficial for the little ones. Minimize excessive use of products when it comes to your baby’s sensitive skin.

06. Apply baby moisturizers

peeling skin on newborn: apply baby moisturizers
Apply baby moisturizers

Roughness, flakiness, or cracks are indications that a baby’s skin needs more moisture. So after washing the baby with lukewarm water, parents need to apply moisturizers that are suitable for the baby’s delicate skin. Parents should pick hypoallergenic moisturizer or lotion to apply it on their baby two to three times a day.

The moisturizer should be gently patted to the baby’s dry skin from head to toe. While applying moisturizer, pay more attention to those areas where water and moisture can easily be trapped, such as tiny armpits, hand folds, chubby leg folds, and the diaper area. Trapped water or moisture can lead to skin inflammation.

07. Buy Comfortable baby dresses

peeling skin on newborn: buy comfortable baby dresses
Buy Comfortable baby dresses

Your baby should always wear soft, loose-fitting clothes made of natural materials. Too tight dresses are likely to put pressure on the skin and lead to irritation and rashes.  In summer, loose-fitting clothing made of 100% cotton or natural ingredients helps to mollify the baby’s skin.

Instead of covering the baby with heavily layered clothes, dress the baby in several thin layers in winter. In general, babies easily get hot and cold, so wrap your sweetie with multiple rounds of layering to keep it comfortable and relaxed.

08. Wash garments with gentle detergent

peeling skin on newborn: wash garments with gentle detergent
Wash garments with gentle detergent

New baby garments can make babies itchy and give them rashes. To get rid of irritants, wash all garments before putting them on babies.  To get beautiful fragrances from clothes, parents prefer to wash children’s clothes using scented detergent. 

As explained above, perfumed added detergents can produce skin damage. Do not forget to use mild baby-friendly laundry detergent. In addition, make sure to wash other clothing things that will touch the baby’s soft skin, such as napkins, bibs, towels, sheets, stuffed toys, etc.

09. Avoid chilly wind

The air outside the womb is extremely dry for the babies, as they were bound by amniotic fluids while in gestation. Particularly, cold air can pull moisture and dry out the skin immediately. It is necessary to bundle up the baby anytime going outside the house in the cold. Baby’s body always needs to be covered with soft gentle warm clothes in chilly weather. To treat your newborn’s peeling skin, keep the baby’s room at a comfortable temperature.

10. Use humidifier

peeling skin on newborn: use humidifier
Use humidifier

Moisture in the air helps to lock moisture in the baby’s body and soothe dry, itchy skin. Humidifiers increase the presence of moisture in the room. So keeping a humidifier overnight in the baby’s room is ideal to add extra moisture to the air. 

11. Keep newborns hydrated

peeling skin on newborn: keep newborns hydrated
Keep newborns hydrated

Another approach to soothe peeling skin on newborns is to make sure that they do not get dehydrated. Until babies are at least 6 months in age, they must not drink water or any other liquids rather than breast milk. Generally, newborns need food every 90 to 120 minutes. 

Consumption of breast milk should be sufficient to keep 6 months old babies hydrated. It contains all the nutrients that a baby needs to grow and stay healthy. A well-hydrated baby’s skin can clear up any peeling. However, parents should consult a pediatrician if they are concerned about their baby’s dehydration. 

12. Consult a doctor

peeling skin on newborn: consult a doctor
Consult a doctor

Mild dryness or peeling skin on a newborn baby is quite common and medical intervention is hardly necessary. The methods explained above should protect the baby’s soft skin and prevent reoccurrence of the peeling skin, but if a baby’s skin appears to be very dry, red, cracked, itchy, inflamed, or swollen, it can trigger the baby to scratch off its damaged skin. So it is best to take advice from a doctor.

#Q/A of Peeling Skin on Newborn

What can I put on my newborns peeling skin?

It is essential to put your infant in the appropriate outfit. Clothing made of soft, delicate fibers that won’t hurt or touch your newborn’s peeling skin is ideal. Tight clothing might cause irritation and rashes on your baby’s skin. Instead, choose loose-fitting apparel. Dresses made of 100 percent cotton and containing natural elements might help soothe a baby’s skin. Finally, dress your newborn in multiple light layers rather than one or two thick layers in cold weather as babies are too sensitive to become overheated or chilly. So, numerous layers may be required to keep your infant comfortable and amused.

How long does it take for newborn skin to stop peeling?

Vernix caseosa is one of the substances that your baby’s nurse will wipe away after birth. The more vernix an infant has at birth, the less skin peels later as it protects the baby skin. That’s why premature newborns have less peeling than 40 weeks babies. So, skin peeling is natural in newborns and usually disappears within a few weeks. Dr. Leah Alexander has said, “Between the gestational ages of 40 and 42 weeks, I’ve seen a lot of newborns with a lot of skin peeling. This peeling layer of skin sloughs off after two weeks, revealing normal, smooth skin beneath.”

How do you get rid of dead skin on a baby?

The removal of the dead skin of a newborn can be aided by using lukewarm water, bath oil, and a baby cleanser instead of soap (if necessary) during their bath time. Again, brushing your baby’s head, similar to a head massage, will help to eliminate dead skin cells from his or her dry scalp. Newer, healthier skin cells might rise to the surface of your baby’s skin as dead skin cells fall off. Always use a soft-bristled baby brush. Furthermore, gently massaging a hypoallergenic moisturizer into dry baby skin twice a day, especially after bath time, helps loosen dead skin and aid peeling.

Why is my 2 week old skin peeling?

Vernix caseosa is made up of water, proteins, and lipids which provide two-way protection. The water keeps the skin moist, while the lipids keep the surrounding fluids from coming into direct touch with it. The vernix also keeps the skin from shedding or flaking in the womb. It indicates there is a buildup of ancient tissue that will peel away once the vernix will be removed. Postpartum vernix is beneficial because it works as a natural moisturizer. The vernix usually goes away mostly after five days when your infant gets their first bath. So, within the first 2-3 weeks, most of the skin peeling occurs.

When can I start using baby products on my newborn?

A pediatrician named Dr. Leah Alexander said, “Many parents inquire about the use of moisturizers to decrease peeling and I reassure them that moisturizers are completely unnecessary as skin peeling is a normal process.” Again, a small amount of unperfumed bath at a time can be acceptable for 4-6 weeks infants to avoid skin damage. A drop of mild shampoo lathered and rinsed off may be required for babies with longer hair. Until your infant is at least 2-4 weeks old, avoid using baby wipes and should be gentle and free of alcohol and scent. Skin products should be avoided for 6-8 weeks for premature babies since the skin’s protective barrier takes longer to grow.

When to use baby oil on newborn?

Babies usually do not require any additional lotion on their skin when they are still newborns as their skin is extremely dry and splits, especially around the ankles and hands. Apply olive oil, Vaseline, or A D ointment to the affected regions after consulting but one must need to consult with doctors. The NHS also advises parents to wait until their baby is one month old before using any oils or lotions. The reason for this is a baby’s top layer of skin is so thin and readily damaged at birth. A baby’s skin matures and generates its own natural protective shield over the first month or longer in premature babies.

3 Month old baby skin peeling (Why? And What to Do?)

The skin of a baby can remain dry for a long period after their first 2-3 weeks have passed and this dry skin can cause skin peeling. If a three-month-old newborn experiences skin peeling then his bath time should always be brief, with warm water to maintain a balanced moisture level, and the bath should be free of aroma and soap. When it’s time to towel off, avoid touching your baby’s skin and instead gently pat it dry. To lock in moisture and stay hydrated, bathe every day or every other day and apply moisturizer. Taking an oatmeal bath, avoiding needless chemicals, and dressing appropriately is also helpful suggestions.

7 Month old baby skin peeling (Why? And What to Do?) 

If a seven-month-old infant has the same condition, the treatment will be also the same as for 2 weeks – 3-months old babies. But it could also indicate a dangerous condition such as Eczema or Ichthyosis and both can cause your baby’s skin to become dry and peeling. Eczema syndrome is uncommon in the first few weeks after birth, but it can occur later in childhood. Furthermore, Ichthyosis is caused by inheriting a faulty gene from parents. Eczema can also be treated by moisturizing the skin, taking a warm bath, using a gentle soap, using a humidifier, and drugs to fight infections. But Ichthyosis is untreatable. At last, a pediatrician should be consulted in order to fully comprehend the situation if it becomes severe.

Dr Vilma

M.D., MPH (Obstetrics and Gynaecology) Furman University, BS - Tulane University School of Public Health, MPH - University of Illinois at Chicago, MD

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