In a recent press release on the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Association website, board-certified dermatologist Kachiu Lee, MD, MPH, FAAD, stated, "With their tiny hands and feet, babies can seem so fragile and vulnerable. However, babies are more resilient than you might think, and parents can maintain good hygiene for their baby by following a few general guidelines."

Dr. Lee recommended several tips that parents/caregivers can incorporate into their routines to assist in caring for an infant's delicate skin. Dr. Lee suggested that parents/caregivers keep infant skin clean, gently bathe the infant two to three times a week, and start with sponge baths before switching to traditional baths once the infant's umbilical cord stump falls off and heals. Dr. Lee also suggested using lukewarm water and mild, fragrance-free baby soap and shampoo and to only apply soap to dirty areas, such as the creases in the neck and diaper area, and to rinse off after cleaning.

Another suggestion was to always change dirty diapers as soon as possible, even if they are just wet, to prevent diaper rash. If a diaper rash develops, Dr. Lee advises parents/caregivers to be gentle when cleaning the diaper area and to apply a zinc oxide diaper cream.

Parents/caregivers should trim the infant's nails whenever they get sharp to prevent scratches, and they should use a nail file or emery board to create a rounded, not jagged, shape. Dr. Lee suggested that baby blankets, sheets, and clothing should be washed with a fragrance-free detergent before and after each use.

Dr. Lee also recommended that parents/caregivers protect infants from ultraviolet (UV) rays, and she offered a few suggestions, such as sun-protective clothing, including a lightweight, long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses with UV protection. For more effective protection, select clothing with a UV protection factor number on the label and minimize sunscreen use in children younger than age 6 months.

She also noted that if shade and adequate clothing are not available, parents/caregivers may apply a minimal amount of sunscreen to all skin not covered by clothing and should select sunscreens with broad-spectrum protection, water-resistance, and a sun protection factor of 30 or higher. Sunscreens containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are less likely to irritate a baby's sensitive skin. Moreover, Dr. Lee indicated that it is important to remember to reapply every 2 hours or immediately after swimming, as there is no such thing as "waterproof" sunscreen.

Overall, Dr. Lee stated, "Maintaining healthy skin care habits during infancy, such as protecting your baby from the sun, can have a long-lasting impact on your child's health. If you have questions about how to care for your baby's skin, hair or nails, talk to your pediatrician or a board-certified dermatologist."

The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Reliance on any information provided in this article is solely at your own risk.

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