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Parents feel social media sets unrealistic expectations of what baby skin should look like...

(Image: Thanks to Minnie Zhou, on Unsplash)

Almost half of children under three experience dry, sensitive skin or skin prone to eczema. Yet 59% of parents don’t realise how common it is and over half blame themselves for their baby’s skin issues . And social media isn’t helping: almost a fifth say they have seen parents filter their children’s skin on Instagram.

Despite the prevalence of dry and sensitive skin in children, the majority (61%) of parents experience confusion around its causes and a third are not sure what the triggers are (34%). This results in anguish for parents who say they find it hard seeing their children suffering (79%), with almost a third (32%) feeling like a neglectful parent as a result.

The willingness to talk about the problem openly is part of the issue. Three quarters of parents (75%) think that social media sets unrealistic expectations of how a child’s skin should appear – agreeing they don’t see many pictures of babies with sensitive/dry or skin prone to eczema in their feed. Worryingly, almost half worry that people will judge them (45%) or their child (46%) because of the condition of their child’s skin.

Paediatric dermatologist Dr Laura Proudfoot comments and gives her top tips:

“It’s concerning that so many parents are blaming themselves for their child’s dry or sensitive skin when this is not the case at all. Baby skin is quite different to adult skin - it’s 30% thinner and can lose moisture up to five times faster, leaving it more vulnerable to damage and dryness, and so it’s not a surprise that many infants experience these issues. "

Paediatric Dermatologist, Dr Laura Proudfoot’s Top Tips for caring for baby’s skin:

(in association with Baby Dove Dermacare)

  • Go fragrance-free

Fragranced products, including washes and lotions, can further irritate you baby’s skin and make it more sensitive. Choose fragrance-free products as these are more gentle, plus you won’t find a better scent than new baby smell.

  • Make bath-time brief

A short, daily bath using an ultra-gentle, soap-free cleanser helps to clean and hydrate baby skin and protect from the drying effects of hard water. It can also become a lovely part of baby’s bedtime routine.

  • Watch for cradle cap

Cradle cap is mild and short-lived in many but can be the first sign of a more generalised sensitive skin issue such as eczema in some babies. Baby Dove Dermacare Moisturising Wash is ultra-gentle, tear-free and suitable for use on the scalp as well as the body. Used once a week, or more regularly, it can help to keep flaky scalps soft and smooth.

  • Lock moisture in

Creams are richer and thicker than water-based lotions and will more effectively lock in moisture and help restore the skin’s natural barrier. Baby Dove Dermacare Moisturising Cream spreads easily, hydrates and helps to keep baby’s skin soft and supple. It’s also enriched with colloidal oatmeal, which is known for its soothing and moisturising properties, making it suitable for babies who may be prone to eczema.

  • Practice sun-safety

As the weather improves, don’t forget to protect your little one’s skin from the sun. In young children, I recommend mineral-based ‘physical’ sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as they reflect light off the skin and are generally better tolerated, particularly in those with sensitive skin issues.

  • Know when to see your doctor

Bathing with a soap-free cleanser and moisturising regularly are so important in helping keep dry skin at bay but if dry patches persist, or your baby develops more widespread eczema, please do seek advice from your GP or a specialist Dermatologist as medicated anti-inflammatory ointments and allergy investigations may be needed.

*Research was provided by Baby Dove, and was conducted amongst 2,000 adults with children under three between 26th February and 9th March 2020.

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