Baby Skin Peeling – First-time parents often experience different emotions once they finally get to hold their bundles of joy. There can be excitement, happiness and the shadow of concern about ensuring that their little ones grow up healthy and active. One of the concerns new parents face is seeing a baby’s newborn skin start to peel.

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Baby Skin Peeling
Is Skin Peeling Normal?

Newborn baby skin peeling is an entirely normal scenario since newborns tend to lose their skin’s outer layer in the first two to three weeks after being born. This is because the exposure to dry air is a completely different environment from the womb. Babies then produce a new layer of skin cells that is tougher and more resilient. When a newborn’s skin starts to peel, do not panic. This is quite normal.

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While a fetus is in the womb, it is surrounded by amniotic fluid which acts as a protective barrier. Once a fetus has reached 20 weeks, a thin layer of wax forms on the outside of the skin which is referred to as the vernix.

Although researchers are not sure why this layer forms, theories include the following:

  • It protects against bacteria during birth.
  • It prevents babies from absorbing too much fluid while inside the womb.
  • It functions as a natural lubricant during childbirth.
  • It protects the newborn’s skin during and after delivery. Other Possible Causes of Dry Peeling Skin

The vernix falls off completely a few days after birth. Babies are now exposed to dry air which, because of their sensitive skin, can cause dryness and baby skin peeling. This is not a painful process.

Other Possible Causes of Dry Peeling SkinOther Possible Causes Of Dry Peeling Skin

Aside from the above, there are other reasons why newborn skin may start to peel [1].


There are instances when baby skin peeling is triggered because of atopic dermatitis, more commonly known as eczema. Babies who have eczema may have dry, red, and itchy patches on their skin. Typically, this skin condition does not immediately appear directly after birth. What causes eczema in the first place is not yet known, but exposure to certain irritants, such as detergents and shampoos, can trigger it. Consumption of soy, dairy and wheat products may also worsen eczema. Eczema often runs in families.


Ichthyosis is another possible cause for scaly patches to appear. This skin disorder is best characterized as flaky and itchy skin with skin shedding. This is diagnosed by a doctor based on a physical examination and a family’s medical history. A skin or blood sample may be required. This skin condition does not have a cure, but the dry skin can be alleviated with regular application of a moisturizing cream.


Another possible cause for baby skin peeling is psoriasis. Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that may cause dry, scaly and red patches as well as flaking. A psoriasis outbreak can be triggered by stress, medications, skin damage and infection.

Cradle cap

Also referred to as seborrheic dermatitis, this skin condition includes thick, yellow patches on the eyebrows, armpits, groin and neck, but it often appears on the scalp, hence the term cradle cap. This condition usually appears when there is the presence of fungal or yeast infection that grows uncontrollably. There are also instances where maternal hormones cause this condition to occur while the baby is in the womb.

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How To Manage Baby Skin PeelingHow To Manage Baby Skin Peeling

The peeling of skin in babies is a common occurrence during the first few weeks. Parents often look for treatments for conditions such as baby acne and cradle cap. Here are a few that can be used to bring comfort to little ones.

Use moisturizer

If a little one has baby feet peel or peeling of other parts of the body, this is likely caused by dry air and a lack of moisture. When peeling occurs, the skin will become dry and scaly. It is essential to keep a baby’s skin moisturized regularly to keep inflammation and irritation at bay. In order to treat a baby’s sensitive newborn skin, look for an organic, hypoallergenic moisturizer. Apply it twice a day through massaging as this will help remove dry skin and allow the moisturizer to penetrate the skin deeply.

Give shorter and warmer baths

Maintaining moisture in a baby’s skin is essential. However, bathtimes should be short and warm. Bathing a baby can help remove skin peeling, but if the bath time is too long, it will remove the natural oils in the skin. This will only exacerbate skin problems instead of helping alleviate them. A baby’s bath time should be around five to ten minutes. Use warm water and mild baby shampoo and soap without any fragrance. Choose a soft cloth to help wash the skin. For foot odor, consider using an organic baby wash. After washing, moisturize. If feasible, use looser fitting socks.

Install a humidifier

An air-conditioner in the nursery will rob the moisture from a baby’s skin. This can make any potential skin conditions, such as eczema, worse. Installing a humidifier in a baby’s room can help add moisture to the air, which can help improve a baby’s skin condition.

Hydrate your baby

Another tip to manage baby skin peeling is to keep babies hydrated through breastfeeding or bottle feeding.  This will help a baby stay hydrated which can prevent skin peeling.

Choose lukewarm water

It is quite normal for newborn babies to have peeling skin after birth. Once the “new” skin appears, they will be better protected against the dry air. Opt for lukewarm water rather than hot baths as high temperatures can strip the skin of natural oils.

Skip bubble baths and harsh soaps

Bubble baths and harsh soaps will rob a little one’s skin of its moisture, exacerbating any skin conditions. By using organic mild baby shampoo, babies will not absorb harmful chemicals which can cause irritating any skin conditions. The same goes for baby wipes. Organic baby wipes aid in keeping a baby’s most sensitive areas clean and healthy.

Choose appropriate baby oil

Apply baby oil to lock in the moisture on a baby’s skin, especially on dry peeling skin. One particular oil that can be used is olive oil as it is a natural oil that is gentle on the skin. Apply this oil on a little one’s skin after a bath to lock in the moisture, or use an appropriate moisturizer for a baby. Consider using a mild moisturizer made of organic ingredients.

Protect babies against the cold

Cold weather can be a culprit for a baby’s dry skin. Bundle up your little one when going outside during winter including socks, mittens and a cap to protect against the cold.

Avoid harsh chemicals

There are different types of detergents being sold today. Avoid scented detergents when washing an infant’s clothes. Artificial scents often include harmful chemicals, ingredients and allergens. These chemicals can worsen skin irritations as peeling skin and diaper rash.

Choose soft clothing

Reduce skin irritation and inflammation in babies with dry skin with loose clothing. This is important especially when a little one has skin eczema or the weather is warm. Tight clothing can trap moisture on the skin which can worsen pre-existing skin conditions or cause rashes.

Use over-the-counter or prescription medications

A pediatrician may recommend or prescribe medications to alleviate dry and peeling skin when the above steps do not work. Follow the dosage correctly to speed the healing process.

Natural Remedies For Baby Peeling SkinNatural Remedies For Baby Peeling Skin

Regardless of whether a newborn’s head or baby feet peel,  finding the cause of discomfort can be helpful with both treatment and prevention. Lessen the itching and dryness of newborn skin with these home remedies. They may be used as part of a skin care routine for a baby’s foot peel and overall skin maintenance.

Milk and turmeric

Mix a small amount of turmeric and milk to create a paste. Apply this mixture on a little one’s face, hands and feet, and leave it until it has dried. Remove afterward using a soft wet cloth. Follow this up with a short bath using warm water and a mild organic baby wash.

Aloe vera

Another possible natural remedy that may help with a baby’s peeling skin is applying aloe vera gel on the affected areas. This soothing gel can help alleviate rough and dull skin. This can come in handy when a baby feels discomfort due to itching. Apply a small amount of the gel directly on the dry patches of skin.

Almond milk

Mothers who breastfeed may want to drink almond milk. Almond milk is rich in vitamin E which can help with a baby’s overall skin health. This can also speed the recovery process especially when a little one’s skin is peeling or has some form of irritation.


Another natural remedy to treat a baby’s peeling skin is for breastfeeding mothers to eat more foods with fiber. Fiber and protein are useful in repairing any skin damage. When breastfeeding, babies can absorb essential nutrients through the milk.

Baby feet peel as a typical reaction to the skin is adjusting to its new environment. This type of peeling does not cause discomfort. If it is accompanied by other symptoms such as itching, red bumps or fever, contact a medical professional.

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Baby Skin Peeling Resources:

[1]   US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health; Skin care for your baby, March 2007.

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