During the winter months more than any other, our skin is more likely to experience various sensitivities. That’s without counting in the vast hormone surges you’ll be experiencing both pre- and post-partum… I asked consultant dermatologist, Dr. Penelope Tympanidis for a little advice on coping with winter skin, for both you and your baby. GT
PT: “First let’s be clear: by sensitive skin we mean skin that is atopic – it tends to break out with eczema, dryness and redness.”
1. Always protect your skin from the sun with a high-factor sunscreen (SPF 30 or more) that is para-aminobenzoic acid free (now most sunscreens, like Neutrogena and Aveeno are PABA free).
2. Keep your body well moisturized. Long soaks in a warm bath aren’t necessarily bad, but try to avoid bubble baths and foaming agents.
3. Wash your face and stick to a good SPF cream on top during the day. Use 100% cotton towels and generally skip fragranced lotions.
4. Avoid soap, detergent, abrasive clothing and perfume.
Baby eczema is very common especially when parents or other members of a family have a history of asthma eczema or allergic rhinitis. Asthma eczema and allergic rhinitis are the expression of the atopy gene and may appear at any stage of life. Atopic eczema is the most common expression in newborns and infants. Atopic skin has defective barrier, and its architecture ‘favours’ skin infections, inflammation thus dry, itchy red skin. In infants it appears on cheeks, forehead and the chin. The best way around it is to improve the barrier and settle the inflammation. If infection is already established the dermatologist will prescribe antibiotics. When there is a flare, avoid giving dairy products from cow’s milk, tomato and orange as it makes skin itchier and inflamed. Also bear in mind that heat from a radiator or woollen clothes may trigger redness as they are skin irritants for babies and infants with eczema. If you breastfeed, do not consume the above products yourself. Topical steroids do the trick when atopic eczema is extended but always under strict guidelines from your dermatologist.
What applies for people with atopic skin does apply to pregnant women and babies who have atopic eczema. It is very important to emphasize the importance of personal care products. I always recommend to wash with a body milk! It cleanses gently, does not harm the already suffering and inflamed epidermis, but forms a barrier towards the environmental aggravating factors as well as towards infection.
To parents, babies and toddlers, I always recommend Benostan. What I find exciting about them is that they are olive oil based, containing organic plant extracts which address most common skin problems. They do a product called Benostan Baby Moist, which is a baby body moisturizer but it is excellent as a soap replacement for eczematic skin. While I was pregnant I did apply their cream Prenatale cream, an all purpose body moisturizer.