Children’s Skin Care

The skin of babies, infants and children is particularly sensitive and therefore needs regular and intensive care. Children’s skin is only about 1/5th as thick as adult skin. The horny layer in particular is very much thinner, and the horny cells are much more loosely structured than in older skin. The natural acid protection barrier of babies only develops a few weeks after birth, and even in young children is still incomplete. Because the horny layer is only loose and thin, moisture can escape more easily through the skin, with the result that baby/infant skin tends to dryness. At the same time, the skin can be more easily penetrated by substances and agents from outside. The active ingredients of skin care products can also penetrate more deeply and be absorbed by the body.
As the production of the sebaceous glands is strongly reduced until the start of puberty, the hydrolipid film is less well developed, and hence also the protection against allergens and other harmful or irritant substances. Also the pH value of baby skin is only in the slightly acid range during the first few months after birth, and then falls to a value of 6 or lower. The skin is therefore also more susceptible to attack from microorganisms. The skin is only colonised in the first few weeks of life by the “natural” bacteria, with formation of the physiological skin flora.
On baby skin, the area of the nappies (diapers) is subject to special stresses through wetting and soiling. Ammonia and enzymes from the faeces and urine cause a burden on the skin and provide a favourable environment for microorganisms that cause illness such as yeasts and bacteria.

Baby and infant skin should be cleansed using pH-neutral products, i.e. acidic soaps and syndets. It may be necessary to clean the nappy (diaper) region several times a day. Fully body baths for infants are recommended once or twice a week, but can also be given more frequently. In this case, however, it is essential to then oil the baby’s skin afterwards. Oiling products added to the bath water provide only minimal protection against skin dryness because, as everyone who has tried them will know, the oil soon floats as a fine film on the surface of the water. Frequent baths should at any rate only be very short in each case.
Mild products should be used as the active washing substance, e.g. disodium lauryl sulphosuccinate, coconut fatty acid amidopropylbetaine and condensates of protein fatty acids. Substances used in oiling baths are paraffin oil, jojoba oil or polysiloxane/polyglycol copolymer. Tried and tested moisturising substances are glycerol, sorbitol and propylene glycol. Allantoin, bisabolol and panthenol have a skin care and skin-soothing effect. Baby shampoos contain no quarternary ammonium compounds, so they do not smart if they get into the eyes.

For skin care, creams and body lotions with O/W emulsions are recommended, or W/O emulsions for the areas with severe drying. They may also have a high lipid content. Body lotions contain about 20 % lipids, or even as much as 70 % in the case of creams designed to give strong protection against dryness and cold. The lipids usually consist of vegetable oils such as avocado, peanut, jojoba, sunflower or wheat germ oil, or, less frequently, animal products such as lanolin. Paraffin oil, Vaseline and silicon oils are also used. As emulsifiers with skin care properties, fatty alcohols such as cetyl alcohol, stearic alcohol or lanolinic alcohols are used. The weakly acidic pH value is usually adjusted through lactic acid, which has additional moisture-retaining properties. Other moisturising substances are glycerol, sorbitol and urea. Allantoin, bisabolol and panthenol may be added for additional skin care. The addition of vitamins A and E as radical captors also makes sense.

For cleaning the nappy (diaper) area, water and cleaning lotions or else baby oils can be recommended in order to protect the skin against ammonia, enzymes and microbial decomposition products from the wetting and soiling. Protective creams suitable for the nappy (diaper) region are W/O emulsions and pastes with a high lipid content which forms a kind of barrier between the skin and irritant substances from the wetting and soiling. However, an occlusive effect, i.e. exclusion of air to the skin, must be avoided. Baby powders are no longer recommended as they become lumpy on absorption of fluid and so cause skinpilot side tourunnecessary rubbing.