Dry Baby Skin

Dry skin is quite common in babies and young children and usually there are ways to treat it easily. Here we are discussing the causes of dry skin in babies and ways to treat it.

Last Updated: Oct 22, 2020 11:29 GMT

Dry Baby Skin
Dry Baby Skin
Dry Baby skin

A newborn’s appearance is prone to change in the initial few weeks. As babies have a very sensitive skin, there is a tendency to become dry easily. Their skin is getting adjusted to the new environment and is sensitive to clothes and allergens in products. Also a baby’s skin produces fewer moisturizing oils compared to grown-ups.

Causes of dry baby skin

The following are the causes of dry baby skin.

1. Newborn skin peeling

For the initial two weeks newborns have a peeling skin. When babies are in their womb, amniotic fluid surrounds them and the skin does not exfoliate. During the early days after birth, newborn’s skin may appear dry and may peel. Peeling can happen on any parts of the body like hands, soles of the feet and ankles.

In the womb, a thick waxy coating called vernix covers the fetus skin that protects it from the amniotic fluid. Once the vernix is gone after the birth, your baby may shed the outer layer of the skin. Preterm babies are supposed to have less skin peeling (as they have more vernix) than babies who are born full term. This sort of skin peeling is quite common and no treatment is required.

2. Overexposure to water

When you bath your baby in hot water for a longer duration, there are chances that skin’s natural oils may get washed away. This increases the chance of dry and peeling skin. Also it is advisable to avoid harsh and powerful soaps as it causes dryness in the skin. Soap removes the skin’s natural oils and makes it hard to maintain moisture in your baby’s skin. Limit the bathing time to not more than 15 minutes in lukewarm water. Use a soft towel to dry your baby’s skin.

3. Dehydration

Cool and dry environments can dehydrate your baby’s skin quickly and lead to breaks or peeling of the skin. As alcohol based skin lotions and creams cause dehydration of the skin’s outer surface, it is ideal to avoid them. One of the best home remedy for preventing dehydration is breast milk. Breast milk can help to keep your baby not only healthy but hydrated too.

4. Ichthyosis

This is a genetic condition that results in peeling and dryness of the skin. According to American Academy of Dermatology, there are more than 20 types of Ichthyosis and Ichthyosis vulgaris is a condition that is seen in infancy. This condition is diagnosed in a baby based on the family history and physical examination. Topical creams can help prevent the dryness and other associated symptoms.

5. Eczema

A skin condition called atopic dermatitis or eczema can lead to dryness in the skin. Eczema can cause dry, red, itchy patches on your baby’s skin. This condition is usually identified late in the infancy. Some of the causes of eczema flare ups are shampoos and detergents.  Dairy, soy and wheat based products can also be triggers. If you are using a soy based formula, consult your doctor before use. Special moisturizing creams and ointments may help to relieve from the symptoms of eczema.


The symptoms of dry skin involve flaky, rough patches on your baby’s skin, especially in the elbows, knees and arms.

Treatment for dry skin

1. Cut down the bath time: As long duration of bath time tends to remove natural oils, it is ideal to reduce the bath time to a maximum of 10 minutes. Always use lukewarm water and use fragrance free and soap free cleansers.

2. Use a moisturizer: Using a hypoallergenic moisturizer twice a day helps prevent dry skin. Applying a cream immediately after bath helps to keep your baby’s skin soft and gentle.

3. Stay hydrated: Always keep your baby hydrated to prevent dryness of the skin.

4. Cover properly: As cold air leads to cracks in the skin and peeling, you can protect your baby from wind and cold air, by covering your baby’s hands and feet with socks or mittens. Also using a light layer of petroleum jelly or emollient cream can prevent your baby’s skin from getting chapped on frosty days.

5. Avoid harsh chemicals: As your newborn’s skin is extremely sensitive, avoid using harsh chemicals. Never use scented products or perfumes. To wash your baby’s clothes, choose a detergent that is customized for your baby’s fragile skin.

6. Humidifier: If the air is too dry in your house, you can use a cool mist humidifier to increase the moisture level. This helps prevent the conditions like eczema and dry skin.

7. Oatmeal to baths: Adding a drop of colloidal oatmeal is proven to be a soother during the bath time.

When to seek medical advice?


Peeling and dry skin is quite common. Most of the time, simple home remedies will give a better solution. However if your baby’s skin is red, itchy, cracked and swollen, seek medical advice immediately.

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