Newborn Skin Peeling – Everything You Need To Know Resource Guide

We know that a fetus develops in a nurturing environment of liquid, beginning towards the completion of the third trimester of pregnancy.   This growing fetus will live in protective amniotic fluid until the time of birth.  However, when born, infant’s delicate skin is exposed to air, humidity and human touch.  And this, among other factors, can lead to newborn skin peeling.

Unsightly as it may seem, newborn skin peeling is completely normal

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There are five critical facts you need to know about your newborn peeling skin.

Fact Number 1 – Newborn Skin Peeling Is A Process

Newborn Skin Peel

Because of the protective environment of a mother’s womb, a baby’s skin does not flake or peel during gestation.

Once a newborn’s [1] skin is exposed, the skin peeling process goes full steam ahead. Infants require lots of skin to skin contact, so be gentle.

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Fact Number 2 – There Is A Culprit

Newborn Skin Peeling Vernix Caseosa

One of the causes of newborn skin peeling is the presence of Vernix Caseosa, commonly called vernix. This waxy, cheese-like white substance covers and protects babies in utero and helps them through the birth canal.

Vernix is absorbed by the body and becomes a newborn’s moisturizer and defender of infection during the first few days of infancy.

After one to three weeks, your newborn’s skin will start peeling.

Fact Number 3 – More Vernix Means More Peeling

More Vernix Means More Peeling

Newborn skin peeling depends entirely on the vernix. If there is more vernix, there is more peeling.

The extent of peeling skin increases with premature infants because a premature birth means more vernix is covering a baby’s skin.

An overdue baby will likely have less vernix after birth since it will be partially absorbed while still in the womb.

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Fact Number 4 – Location, Location, Location

Baby Skin Peelings

Peeling most commonly occurs on the face, ankles, and soles of the feet. You may also notice peeling skin on the hands and wrists.

Do not worry if it occurs in other places; your baby, after all, has skin all over.

Fact Number 5 –  Newborn Peeling Skin Is Very Fragile

Newborn Skin Is Very Fragile

There are some hygiene protocols that should be adhered to during infancy:

  • Only use plain, lukewarm water for cleaning during the first months of your baby’s life.
  • A hygienic routine for newborn skin includes daily washing and preventing the skin from becoming too dry. If skin starts to become dry, avoid removing the natural oils with shorter and fewer bath times.
  • Avoid baby soap with fragrances.  This includes regular laundry detergent for your child’s clothes and diapers. Go mild and fragrance-free.
  • Use a humidifier to moderate the environment. Extremes in temperature and humidity can affect your baby. Humidifiers also help relieve dry skin and eczema. Pay particular attention to your baby’s hands and feet.
  • Be patient. Sometimes, nature must run its course to give your baby long-term health benefits. As time goes on, skin barriers grow stronger.

If The Skin Becomes Red And Cracked

Peeling skin will let up after a few months and look more like skin flaking. Note that if it becomes red, cracked, or starts to spread, see your doctor immediately as it could be another skin condition.

Be Aware Of Rashes

A newborn’s skin is extra sensitive, it is at risk of developing rashes both during the peeling stage and afterward. Diaper rashes and overall body rashes (erythema toxicum) are common conditions that can occur after the skin peels when a baby’s skin is most sensitive. Cradle cap may also develop. This condition causes crusty or oily patches on baby’s scalp.

It Can Last Twelve Months

Though caring for a new infant may be overwhelming, keep in mind that during the first twelve months (barring any unforeseen complications), it’s all part of the natural growth process.  As always, if you are concerned about a possible skin condition, consult your doctor. Your pediatrician is there to help you.

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Newborn Skin Peeling Resources;

[1]   Healthline; Why Is My Newborn’s Skin Peeling?, Karen Gill MD, Valencia Higuera, February 03, 2018.

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