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I have a one and a half month old baby daughter who is getting a lot of dry skin and dandruff.

We have used olive oil to massage her skin and also Johnson's baby lotion but still there is a lot of improvement needed.

Can someone suggest effective advice that worked for them?

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Just a comment: olive oil is good for softening the skin but it won't be enough by itself if the skin is dry because it does not contain enough moisture. Baby lotions are a good complement because they can be applied in a much thicker layer (pick one without perfumes or additives). –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Feb 19 '12 at 21:21

6 Answers 6

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Since it's winter, it stands to reason that your baby's skin is going to be a little dry. This link suggests cutting back on bath time, making sure the water isn't too hot, and limiting the amount of contact your child has with soap. Baths strip the natural oils off the skin so you don't want to over-do the number of baths she gets or how long she's in the tub.

It also suggests moisturizing immediately after bathing as your skin will absorb the lotion better, and that the general rule-of-thumb with moisturizer is the thicker the better. If Johnson's isn't working, you might switch to a thicker lotion or a cream instead of Johnson's which is pretty thin as lotions go. Some of my mommy friends have had good results with Cetaphil or anything that's unscented and/or hypoallergenic.

Other suggestions:

  1. Use a humidifier.
  2. Don't let salt or chlorine dry on the skin. In case you visit a local pool or something.
  3. Protect your baby's skin from the elements. Make sure when you take her out that she's thoroughly covered and protected from the wind and cold.

ETA: As for her dandruff: She probably has cradle cap which is an incredibly common condition. Both my kids had it. It's really hard to get rid of altogether, but you can sort of minimize it. When I washed my kid's hair, I would take a really soft baby brush and sort of massage their scalp in circular motions while the shampoo was still in their hair. This will help loosen some of the dry skin and you can just rinse it away. It probably won't get rid of it 100%, but it should help. I've also heard you can use olive oil to do this, and once I got really desperate and used a combination of shampoo and baby oil on my daughter's scalp, but it took FOREVER to get all the oil out of her hair. There are also some cradle cap shampoos you can buy at any big box store if some of the home remedies don't help. If it's REALLY bad and none of this helps, then you should probably talk to your doctor about it.

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Olive oil on the scalp is really quite effective and nourishing. Thank you so much for the wealth of information you have provided here. You must be a very caring mom! :) –  Maxood Feb 22 '12 at 9:18

Only a doctor examining your baby would be able to tell you, but it sounds like it could be a form of eczema.

Moisturizing cream is a common remedy.

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It isn't eczema for sure. We have already consulted child specialist. What moisturizing cream do you suggest? Thanks –  Maxood Feb 22 '12 at 9:12
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@Maxood I provided a link in the answer to the moisturizer we use for our daughter. When her skin gets particularly bad, we use a steroid cream that our doctor prescribed for us. –  LarsTech Feb 22 '12 at 12:57

Actually my pediatrician told me NOT to moisturize. Flaking skin like that is totally normal. Moisturizing will actually prolong it.

The baby was floating in fluid for 9 months, so this is a skin adjustment. As long as it's not hurting her, you should be ok.

If there's a lot of yellow crusty stuff on her head, I would recommend a bit of a brush.

This is what I've been doing, and my 1 month old is now coming to the end of the flakiness. When you bathe, rub with the washcloth. It will exfoliate. After the bath, rub lightly with the towel, and then after her hair is dry, brush her hair in an exfoliating way. Don't bathe too often, every 2-3 days is best. And use very little soap, it can be drying. We actually barely get the water soapy.

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Our midwives and pediatrician both said the same thing. There's no reason to assume that a new born's skin should behave exactly the same way a grown adult's does. –  Pete Jul 24 '13 at 16:10

My daughter has dry skin that gets a mild rash if left untreated. We took her to the doctor just to make sure it wasn't anything more serious; short version of the story is that it's not.

In any case, we use Aquaphor on her in the winter. When she was an infant, we used it on her every night. Now that she's almost 3, she seems to be growing out of the need for such a heavy product. I used to feel a little bad because the stuff is so greasy, and we'd basically coat her in it--face, belly, back, arms, legs--and then put her PJs on. But she seemed to be fine with it and it really helped, more than anything else we tried, to keep her from getting rashes.

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My daughter had very dry skin and cradle cap, leaving it alone wasn't really an option since she was in obvious discomfort and constantly scratching the dry skin. It was disrupting her sleep.

Our solution was bath in the morning and bath at night and using a moisturizing cream called CeraVe (http://www.cerave.com/our-products/moisturizers/moisturizing-cream).

It wasn't what we really wanted to do, but since the skin issues have subsided she's become a much happier baby.

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During my first few days becoming a father, I was told the following 2 nuggets of information by a number of different healthcare professionals (mostly nurses/midwives).

  1. You shouldn't wash a newborn baby with anything other than water for the first ten days.

  2. The best solution for dry skin on newborns is oil, but you should try to avoid Johnson's baby oil in the early stages. Also instead of using Olive Oil as is often recommended, you should use high quality Sunflower oil (according to a recent study that the nurses kept mentioning).

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