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What Is Cornstarch (Maize)?
Cornstarch is a pure starch that originates from corn. Corn, also known as maize, is a tall grain plant which is often mistaken for a vegetable. It originated in Central America and Mexico. The corn plant has leafy, ear-like stalks which house its grains known as kernels. Each kernel on the cob contains one strand of silk. White and yellow seeds are widely used to produce the plant, but there are also brown, red, purple, and blue corns available.
The corn plant has three parts, the hull, the germ, and the endosperm. The germ of the corn is a source of animal food or corn oil, and the endosperm contains protein and starch for thickening. In producing pure starch, the exterior shells are stripped from the kernel, and the seeds are crushed into a white powder. The whole process requires specialized equipment to efficiently extract the starch and strip it of protein to make it pure.
Cornstarch is a white powder that is smooth and soft to the touch. Although insoluble in alcohol, ether, cold water, and other organic solvents, it is an excellent absorbent of bodily fluids and oils. It keeps skin dry and is considered a unique solution to bad odors. It is a gentler, more effective alternative to talcum powder. When adequately kept in dry storage, it lasts for an indefinite period.
Cornstarch may derive from corn, but it does not have the same nutritional value. Cornstarch consists of carbohydrates, calories, phosphorus, iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium, and zinc. It does not contain protein, fiber, or sugar .
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Origins Of Cornstarch (Maize)
Cornstarch, also called corn flour or maize starch, is produced by extracting the pure starch from corn grain. It is widely dubbed cornstarch especially in the United States and Canada. It is not to be mistaken with the corn flour which refers to finely milled cornmeal.
Scientists conclude that ancient people in central Mexico were the first to develop corn. Seven thousand years ago, Mexicans and indigenous peoples living in the North and South Americas depended on a wild grass called “teosinte” for their food. The teosinte or “maize” looked very different from today’s corn, but it also produced kernels and starch .
When natives migrated north, they brought their corn with them. Eventually, European explorers led by Columbus came to the Americas, discovered the indigenous peoples, and saw corn for the first time.
Many centuries later, cornstarch was discovered. In 1844, Colgate & Co. constructed small starch factories in New Jersey. Thomas Kingsford, an employee from one of their wheat starch factories, found another purpose for the corn kernel in 1840. Soon, Cornstarch became a staple for laundry and other household chores. It eventually made its way into the kitchen as an ingredient in desserts, cakes, creams, and thickening.
During Victorian times, cornstarch trade cards were a popular trend. From the 1880s to the 1900s, colored trade cards were used for advertising purposes. Each card contained graphics on one side and a cornstarch recipe on the other. These cards were so popular that people collected and glued them into Victorian Scrapbooks.
Benefits Of Cornstarch For Babies
Babies are prone to skin issues such as rashes and infection. When diapers become soiled and are left on for too long, they produce diaper rashes that cause pain and discomfort. During infancy, skin is very sensitive and needs to be kept dry. Moisture causes the skin’s protective barrier to break down and exposes it to bacteria.
Not all baby skin issues are due to unsanitary conditions. Hives can spontaneously appear and must immediately be remedied to prevent worsening and discomfort. Since babies’ skin is fragile, finding a baby product that is both potent and mild is essential. Cornstarch is an excellent option that offers many benefits.
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Cornstarch For Baby Rash
Baby rashes are a very common skin issue. Although various factors trigger rashes, the effects are bothersome to both parents and children. Moisture is the number one culprit followed by yeast and friction .
Cornstarch helps treat all kinds of baby rashes. Chafing, the most common type of baby rash appears as red, itchy bumps caused by friction. Yeast infections, also called candidal dermatitis, are another form of baby rash. This rash usually appears first on the thighs and abdomen. Cradle cap causes red patches with yellow-colored flakes on the head. Eczema and intertrigo are baby skin rashes that ooze fluids. Bacterial infections cause intertrigo .
A mild baby powder is often used to treat these rashes. Talcum powder used to be a popular choice. However, doctors caution the use of talcum because it can cause respiratory problems. Baby powder with cornstarch, on the other hand, is a safe solution. It treats all types of rashes by reducing friction and moisture where clothing and diapers rub .
Cornstarch For Baby Diaper Rash
Most babies will experience diaper rash. Bacteria from babies’ fecal matter and urine can cause this painful inflammation.
When diaper rash occurs, one of the best and easiest remedies is to apply baby powder with cornstarch on the affected areas. It will provide instant relief and decrease the possibility of the rash spreading or worsening.
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Cornstarch For Baby Acne
Acne is a skin condition caused by overly active sebaceous glands. However, not all acne is the same. Acne in adults can lead to large, inflamed pustules, while baby acne only appears as red, tiny bumps. Unlike acne in adults, baby acne does not last for more than six months. However, this brevity does not necessarily mean that baby acne should be taken lightly.
Baby acne, also called erythema toxicorum neonatorum, can worsen over time. Since acne treatments for adults are too harsh for a baby’s sensitive skin, it is essential to search for acne medicine that is effective yet gentle.
Baby powder with cornstarch mixed with water is one of the most effective solutions to baby acne. It contains essential vitamins including Vitamin B1, Vitamin B5, and Vitamin C. It also contains thiamine, lycopene, and niacin which all fight bacteria. All of these are extremely helpful in maintaining healthy and nourished skin .
Cornstarch For Parents
Cornstarch works wonders for adult skin as well. From treating itchy skin to eliminating bad odors, cornstarch is an easily accessible home remedy that parents find useful. There are many valuable benefits of cornstarch for mothers.
Just like baby acne, adult acne can be treated with baby powder that includes cornstarch. It is particularly beneficial to adults who have extra-sensitive, oily, and acne-prone skin. Mix cold water and cornstarch to create a face mask that treats acne and dark spots .
Cornstarch For Itchy Skin
Cornstarch coats itchy skin (pruritus) and reduces redness and irritation caused by excessive sweat or oil. Cornstarch absorbs moisture without drying out the skin giving it a protective barrier against other irritants. This is especially crucial for breastfeeding moms who want to ensure they are not absorbing any toxins.
Cornstarch For Hair
Cornstarch is a perfect substitute for dry shampoo for infants that have cradle cap. It soaks up the extra oil. It can be used to freshen hair in the middle of the day, especially in dry, humid environments.
How Cornstarch Works In Baby Products
Cornstarch is organic and mild when applied to all types of skin. When mixed with glycerin and rum, it exfoliates the pores and strips away dead skin. Its gentle properties and obvious benefits make it a perfect ingredient in many baby products.
Talcum Versus Cornstarch
Both cornstarch and talcum are present in various baby products. While both produce desirable results in the formulation of cosmetic products for sensitive skin, only cornstarch is proven to be safe for babies.
Talcum powder originates from the mineral talc. In recent years, it has been linked to respiratory problems and ovarian cancer. Many studies convey that the particles in talcum powder are highly likely to travel from the womb to the ovaries when used in the perineal area .
Since the body is not able to destroy talc particles, it can cause harmful particles to grow. Doctors from the American Academy of Pediatrics openly advise parents not to use talcum powder on their babies since the substance can cause severe respiratory disorders when inhaled .
Unlike talcum, cornstarch absorbs more moisture and contains larger particles. The Food and Drug Administration classifies cornstarch to be GRAS or “generally recognized as safe .”
Practical, Cheap, And Environmentally Friendly
Cornstarch produces natural polymers that efficiently remedy skin issues while being safe to use on infants and safe for the environment. Since it derives from a food ingredient, it is biodegradable and non-irritating. Its anti-inflammatory properties designate it as one of the cheapest and safest alternatives to baby products that treat skin issues.
Is Cornstarch Safe For Baby References: United States Department of Agriculture; Basic Report: 20027, Cornstarch, April 2018.
 Encyclopaedia Britannica; Teosinte.
 Health XChange; Common Baby Skin Conditions: Symptoms & Causes.
 NHS; Rashes in babies and children, February 15, 2018.
 Springer; Top 50 Dermatology Case Studies for Primary Care, Danya Reich, Corinna Eleni Psomadakis, Robert L. Buka, 2017.
 NCBI; PDQ Cancer Information Summaries [Internet], June 15, 2016.
 Healthline; 13 Powerful Home Remedies for Acne, Kayla McDonell, RD, February 03, 2017.
 Cosmetics & Toiletries; Naturally Improving Sensorial Attributes with Corn Starch, November 12, 2013.
 American Cancer Society; Talcum Powder and Cancer, August 24, 2017.
 American Academy of Pediatrics; Dangers from Talcum Powder, Malcolm H. Moss, 1969.