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Practical advice for baby skin care

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Water alone is not an optimal skin cleanser Water alone is not an optimal skin cleanser for babies, so a soap-free liquid cleanser can be added if needed

Having a new baby is an exciting time but can also be challenging for parents who often have many questions and concerns about caring for their child, including how to look after their baby’s skin. The evidence base for skin care is an ever-changing landscape, with national guidelines not maintaining pace with research.

Sourcing evidence
NICE guidance for postnatal care recommends that parents should be advised that cleansing agents should not be added to a baby’s bath water and lotions or medicated wipes should not be used.1 The only cleansing agent recommended is a mild, non-perfumed soap when needed.

Recent evidence has suggested that water may not be the optimal skin cleanser for newborns.2,3 This provides a challenge when parents ask for guidance about caring for their baby’s skin.

Water alone is a poor cleanser and does not remove fat-soluble substances such as faeces and sebum. It also increases skin pH, (from 5.5 to 7.5), and over-exposure to water leads to higher transepidermal water loss, both of which may weaken the skin barrier.3


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