crying newborn

What to Put on Peeling Newborn Skin

New parents frequently have numerous queries regarding their infant's skin. A typical problem is peeling skin. Newborns commonly experience peeling, which can be painful for parents to observe. This article will explain why newborn skin peels, what parents can do to care for their baby's skin, and when to seek medical help from a pediatrician.

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Why is Your Newborn's Skin Peeling?

Skin peeling in newborns is a natural and expected process caused by the shedding of the vernix caseosa, a waxy, protective layer that covers the fetus's skin during pregnancy. This covering protects the fetus's skin while in the womb, but it is no longer required once the baby is born and exposed to the outside world. As the baby's skin adjusts to the new environment and begins to create its own oils and lipids, the vernix caseosa sheds. Environmental variables, such as humidity, and the usage of certain items, such as lotions and oils that can dry up the skin, can also impact peeling in babies.

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How Long Does Peeling Last?

This shedding process, also known as desquamation, usually starts around the time of birth and can persist anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Peeling commonly begins on the face and scalp and spreads to other regions of the body, such as the hands and feet. Peeling is particularly noticeable on the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands.

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man holding newborn baby


What to Do for Peeling Newborn Skin


As a new parent, it can be overwhelming when you notice your newborn’s skin peeling. From keeping them hydrated to utilizing protective clothing, we'll explore what parents should do for peeling newborn skin in this blog post.   

Leave the Vernix on Baby

Vernix is a waxy substance that covers babies' skin and protects it from amniotic fluid in the womb. Instead of quickly washing it off, consider letting the vernix stay on the newborn for the first few days after delivery to allow their skin to acclimatize to the outer world.

Gentle Moisturizer

Keeping a newborn's skin hydrated is essential for avoiding peeling. Look for a moisturizer that is designed exclusively for babies and is free of perfumes and other allergens. Avoid using any lotion that contains alcohol because it may cause their skin to dry out.

Postpone First Bath

Newborns do not need to be bathed right away. Instead of giving them their first bath at the hospital, wait until they are settled at home before giving them their first bath.

Mind Bath Water Temperature

When bathing a newborn, keep the water warm but not hot. Hot water might dry out their skin and aggravate peeling. Use a bath thermometer to confirm that the water is safe for the baby's sensitive skin.

Shorten Baby Bath Time

Newborns simply only need a quick sponge bath to stay clean. A long bath might dry up their skin, increasing the likelihood of peeling. Bathe for no more than 10-15 minutes and use a moderate, fragrance-free soap.

Give Fewer Baths

Newborns do not need to be bathed every day. Bathing them too regularly can actually dry up their skin. Limit bathing to two or three times per week, or even less if their skin appears dry or sensitive.

Dry Skin Carefully After Baths

After bathing your infant, make sure to dry them off carefully to avoid chafing. Rather than rubbing the skin, gently pat it dry with a soft cloth. To lock in moisture, apply a moisturizer shortly after bathing while the skin is still damp.

Use a Humidifier

Dry air can cause infant skin to flake more easily. A humidifier in the baby's room can help put moisture into the air and prevent dry skin. This is especially beneficial during winter, when interior heating can dry up the air. Furthermore, it is critical to keep the humidifier clean and properly maintained so that it does not bring mold or germs into the air.

Use Fewer Products on Skin

Newborns' skin is sensitive and easily irritated by too many products. Use as few products as possible on the baby's skin to help avoid peeling. Baby lotions, oils, powders, and shampoos should only be used when absolutely necessary. Stick to the necessities and heed a pediatrician's advice.

Keep Baby Cozy

Keeping a newborn warm and covered can reduce dry skin. To keep them warm, dress them in comfortable, breathable clothing and cover them with a soft blanket. It's crucial to remember that overheating can induce sweating and rashes, so keep an eye on their comfort level, especially during the warmer months.

Avoid Fragrances and Chemicals

Many commercial baby products contain fragrances and chemicals that can irritate infant skin and exacerbate peeling. Look for products with no additional fragrances or chemicals, and carefully study the ingredient list. Avoid synthetic scents and chemicals, which might trigger allergic responses or irritations.

Use Non-Irritating Detergents

The detergent used to wash your baby's clothing and bedding might also irritate his or her skin. Avoid using fabric softeners or bleach, and stick with a non-irritating, fragrance-free detergent. Because some detergents might cause skin irritation or allergies, it's critical to monitor the baby's skin condition after using any new detergents.

Remember Sun Protection

Even though infants spend the most of their time indoors, it is still critical to protect their sensitive skin from the sun's UV rays. When you're outside, dress them in lightweight, long-sleeved clothing and a brimmed hat to avoid prolonged sun exposure. For any exposed skin, use sunscreen made exclusively for newborns.

Keep Baby Hydrated

Keeping a newborn's skin healthy requires proper hydration. Check that they are getting enough fluids, whether from breast milk or formula, or from water if they are older. Remember that dehydration can cause skin dryness, so monitor the baby's urine production, skin elasticity, and overall behavior.       

Use Soft & Natural Fabrics

Because babies have such delicate skin, it's recommended to outfit them in soft, natural fabrics like cotton or linen. These textiles are less likely to irritate their skin and can aid in the prevention of peeling. Synthetic textiles and clothing with tight seams or labels should be avoided as they may cause irritation or chafing.

Wash Clothing Before Use

Before dressing your infant in new clothing or bedding, make sure it has been washed. Newly-bought cloth may include dyes, irritants or chemicals that can irritate your baby’s sensitive skin.  Washing these textiles before use can reduce the odds of irritation.


photo of newborn


When to Call the Pediatrician


Peeling skin is typical in newborns, and it is usually not a cause for concern. However, in some cases, a visit to the pediatrician is required. If the peeling is accompanied by additional symptoms such as redness, irritation, fever, or if the skin becomes sore or bleeds, get medical attention. Also, if the peeling is broad and does not resolve within a few weeks, consult a pediatrician. If you have any concerns or questions regarding your newborn's skin, always err on the side of caution and consult with a healthcare expert.

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Dealing with Peeling Newborn Skin

Peeling newborn skin can be daunting for new parents, but it's important to remember that it is almost always a benign and temporary condition. With the proper care, your baby's skin will clear up in no time. Be sure to keep their skin clean and moisturized, and if you have any concerns, don't hesitate to reach out to a pediatrician. And of course, check out Soteri Skin’s extra-gentle, irritant-free skincare for baby and more!

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