Podcast Episode #39: Newborn Skin Issues
Alyssa and Cindy from Cindy’s Suds talk today about common newborn skin issues. Ever heard of cradle cap? How do you prevent diaper rash? Do babies really get pimples? You can listen to this complete podcast on iTunes and SoundCloud.
Alyssa: Hello! Welcome to another episode of Ask the Doulas. I am Alyssa Veneklase, co-owner and postpartum doula, and I’m excited to talk to my friend Cindy again today from Cindy’s Suds.
Cindy: Hey, how are you?
Alyssa: Hey, good! So I just taught a newborn class the other night, and in that class, I have a section where we go over common illnesses for babies that a lot of babies get and freak parents out. Cradle cap, baby acne, and diaper rash are three of the ones we go over. And I was thinking that, because your products are so amazing and you have the healthcare background as a —
Cindy: Yeah, Physician’s Assistant.
Alyssa: You would have some good ideas and you can tell people what is cradle cap really, and why do babies get baby acne, and then how your products can actually help. Let’s start with cradle cap because it’s so weird.
Cindy: Cradle cap is so weird, and especially to a new mom that’s never experienced it before, you’re thinking what in the world? My kid has this scale on his head, and it looks so awful and so gross.
Alyssa: It’s like a really disgusting form of adult dandruff, and it turns yellow.
Cindy: Actually, that’s what it is. That’s exactly what it is, yeah. So the medical name is seborrheic dermatitis, and it’s just scaly, yellow flakes. It looks so gross, and you can get it not only the hairline; you can get it on the eyebrows, behind the ears, kind of patchy; anywhere there’s hair, you can get it. It’s typically a self-limiting situation where it’s just going to slowly get better on its own. We don’t necessarily know why babies get it. A lot of babies do. The worst thing to do, and the thing that moms want to do, is pick off those little scales because it’s gross to you, but that’s the worst thing to do because you can bleed and then you can get a secondary infection from picking and bleeding on their little scalp. So you’re better off leaving it alone, and it usually kind of gets better on its own. You can use some symptomatic treatments, though, and one of those things is you can just use our healing salve and you can kind of goop that on their scalp and let it sit, and then slowly, over a few applications — and when I say few, it could be a few weeks of doing something like that — it will slowly soften and get better, and they’ll grow out of it. You can do the same thing with coconut oil; I’ve heard people use that with decent results, too. Our healing salve just has other benefits and other herbs in it that also kind of help in the healing process, but certainly, if you have coconut oil at home, certainly try that first, if you want. But it’s just something that is going to be more of an unattractive phase for a while. It’s not anything dangerous, harmful. It’s nothing that they’re going to have for the rest of their life. It’s typically self-limiting, and it’s just their little bodies are going through so much change, and it could be hormone fluxes, they’re saying, just from —
Alyssa: I heard the other day it could be the first sign of a food allergy.
Cindy: And then also it could have a component of a fungal infection, too. They just really don’t know, so they’re kind of grasping at straws, and they’ve always kind of not known. So it’s just one of those things where they’re — you know, this decade, they’re saying, oh, could be food allergies. Last decade, they’re saying, oh, could be fungal. It’s just one of those things that are fairly common for newborns, but also, you know, you’ve got mother-in-law going oh, you’ve got to pick that or treat it, and I’ve also heard a lot of people say use a baby comb and comb it off, which is kind of the same thing as picking, unless you’ve softened that area first with the coconut oil or with the healing salve.
Alyssa: Yeah, I tell people if you use coconut oil, and a very soft-bristled, like baby toothbrush, and go very, very lightly in small circles. And it’s like you said; it could take weeks, but it’s just a slow process over time.
Cindy: Right, and you never want to do that dry. So you never want to dry brush or dry comb. It’s always after that coconut oil or healing salve has settled into the scalp and softened up some of those plaques, and then just try to get rid of it really slowly. Or even a washcloth; you can kind of just slowly go over their scalp with a washcloth, but it’s not a quick fix. So plan on this being a several weeks-long process, and also know that it will go away. Don’t listen if someone says oh, you need to wash them more. Babies, in general, you really shouldn’t bathe unless you’re doing it maybe once a week, but they don’t need to be bathed. Their pH is changing; their skin is just adjusting to being part of this world instead of in the womb, so there’s so many things going on. You don’t need shampoo, and that’s the last thing that you should be using anyway. That’s a whole other topic, but stay away from any of those “baby shampoos” or baby this, baby that, because —
Alyssa: Adding chemicals and petroleum to your baby’s poor, delicate skin is not a good idea.
Cindy: Yeah, not a smart idea. But anyway, that’s seborrheic dermatitis, also called cradle cap. It will go away; it just looks ugly.
Alyssa: So what about baby acne? Is it actually pimples?
Cindy: It actually is, and that’s the funny thing. It’s leftover hormones from Mom, and so those still are circulating in baby’s immature body. Their oil glands are still immature, so you’ve got a combination of Mom’s hormones raging out of baby and slowly fading out, and then baby’s immature skin system and sebum production and oil production is immature still, and so you end up with acne. And this too will go away, but it’s also — it almost always happens when you’re ready to take those first one-month pictures, two-month pictures, and all of a sudden, you’re like, my beautiful, fair-skinned baby is like a teenager! And it almost always happens, and they say about 40 to 50% of babies get this, so it is super, super common. It also will go away.
Alyssa: Don’t touch it; don’t pick it.
Cindy: Don’t pick! Don’t pick! Sometimes, though, just like in regular acne, you will have spots that flare up and look more red and look irritated and almost look like they’re getting infected. That would be a good time to use our healing salve because that’s a natural product. It will help to decrease any early infection that’s starting. It’s going to be an anti-inflammatory for those spots on the face. You can certainly use it any point during the baby acne phase, but you don’t need to. That’s more of a mom thing; we’re like, I feel like I need to try something. You can certainly try it; you can certainly use it, but you don’t need to.
Alyssa: It’s best just to leave it alone.
Cindy: It’s best to leave it alone, and do not pick. I’m a picker, and I love to pick, and it was so hard not to pick. I think it’s because I’m a PA, and it’s part of what you do. You get to do things like that at work. But don’t pick because it will scar, and you don’t want to do that to your baby. There’s also something called milia, which look like those under the skin whiteheads that you can sometimes see on the nose and cheeks and sometimes forehead. That’s something different, and that’s also just like a trapping of skin cells underneath the surface of the skin. That also will go away, but it’s not baby acne. They’re two separate things. They both will go away on their own. It’s just more — especially for a new mom, it’s kind of unnerving to see this facial change and these skin changes happen to your baby because it’s such an outward sign, and you have people always commenting; strangers, mothers-in-law, whomever: oh, my kid never had that! What are you using? What aren’t you using? So just know — I just would love to give moms the confidence to know that this is natural; this is normal; this will go away. If they need to use something on it, something natural like a coconut oil or our healing salve would be great and fine, but you do not need to. It will go away on its own.
Alyssa: And what about diaper rash? Because that — I’d say probably 100% of babies at some point, whether it’s just a mild diaper rash — you know, the biggest thing I tell my students in class is just to keep baby’s butt dry; after a shower, even after wiping with a wet wipe. You’re putting moisture on the baby’s butt, and then you cover it with this dark diaper. Now you have this dark, damp, moist environment to grow bacteria and get a diaper rash in.
Cindy: Absolutely. So diaper rash is pretty ubiquitous for when you have kids. It can start early on. With some kids, it doesn’t start until after they start solids because of the whole transition of what that is doing to their GI tract, but you will probably experience diaper rash at some point. Like you said, the biggest challenge is keeping that area dry, and if you notice any pee or poop, you’ve got to change right away. If you’re cloth diapering, same thing; you’re going to have to be more on top of it if you cloth diaper because there’s not a barrier like in the disposables, so you’ll just need to be on top of it and just constantly changing. It’s short-lived in the grand scheme of life.
Alyssa: Three years feels like forever.
Cindy: It certainly does, but in the grand scheme of life, it will get better. As they get older, they obviously don’t go as often, but you’ve got to be on top of it, especially when they’re really little, because their skin is so immature and it cannot fight those early fungal infections that can lead to bacterial infections, and it’s usually a combination. Like if you get a rip-roaring diaper rash, there’s usually going to be some kind of a fungal component just because, like you were describing, damp, dark, stuff just left there; that’s the perfect growing conditions for any kind of a fungus or bacteria. So after you do a diaper change, if you can just kind of air-dry with your hand waving before you diaper, or if you can just let them have a minute of some air time to dry that off, that’s the best. If you’ve already kind of gone over the threshold of darn, we now have a breach in the skin and we now do actually have a diaper rash, reach for something natural. Our diaper balm and healing salve are amazing.
Alyssa: What’s the different between the two?
Cindy: The only difference is the base oil, so the healing salve has an olive oil base, and the diaper balm has an almond oil base. The only reason why we made two is so that moms had a visual so that if they wanted to always keep a dirty can by the diaper changing table, they had a color visual because that color is yellow, whereas the healing salve color is a greenish-blue, label-wise. But they’re the same product; they work the exact same. It’s just a different base oil, and it’s just more or less just so mom has a visual to keep one “clean” vs. “dirty” for a diaper change. But if you do get the rash, actually, you can be very liberal with putting that diaper balm or healing salve on their bottom. The great thing about it is it’s not going to sting when you put it on; it’s not going to sting if you wipe it off; it’s going to keep a nice barrier that’s going to start healing that skin, especially if it’s broken. New moms, too, they freak out, as we all did, when they have their first diaper rash that’s now excoriated and bleeding. You feel awful as a mom, and it could just be the simple fact that you were stuck in traffic and you realized baby’s pooped in the backseat and you just can’t get home in time, and then it happens. It happens to all of us, so don’t do a guilt trip, moms. Unfortunately, we just live this kind of a pace right now where you can’t physically be there sometimes every single second when they go, but as soon as you notice it, you clean off; you air-dry a little bit, and then use a healing salve or diaper balm very liberally on the diaper rash, and you will notice a huge improvement. Just make sure that you’re continually keeping up on those diaper changes and applying the salve.
Alyssa: So not only does it start to heal; it also kind of creates a barrier, right, so when they pee and poop next — it’s like water and oil don’t mix, so it kind of just rolls off.
Cindy: Absolutely, so it’s creating that barrier so that you’re not going to have that skin-to-poop contact, and poop is quite acidic, especially once they start getting any kind of a solid. But it’s acidic, and so that’s what’s going to start eating through and irritating that super-sensitive skin. So be vigilant on doing your diaper changes; dry off before you re-diaper. You can use the healing salve or diaper balm preventatively and just put a little barrier on, if you want to. You don’t need to. I would probably just not, if it were me. It’s one more thing to do.
Alyssa: Probably start it when you notice early signs.
Cindy: Right, when you notice the redness, that’s when you should start using it. And then if it gets really, really bad, you just goop it on. You’re just kind of dabbing it on; not wiping, but more of a dab, and just be really careful to just keep doing those diaper changes so they’re not ever sitting in any pee or poop.
Alyssa: And it’s hard because, like you said, when they’re little, the pee all the time, and you’re literally —
Cindy: It’s like a drizzle sometimes.
Alyssa: And you’re like, oh, I don’t want to change a diaper again; I just did, or these diapers cost so much money, so I get it for families who are like, I can’t change the baby’s diaper twelve times a day. You just have to be really careful.
Cindy: Really, really careful, yeah. Or maybe cloth diapering would be a better alternative since you can rewash those diapers. You’ve got to find what works best for you. Some people could not do cloth diapers for the expense because there is a big expense up front for those. Some people think that disposable is a bigger expense. You just have to do what’s right for your family, whatever you want to do, but you just have to be on top of it, and you really should have some kind of a natural diaper cream, diaper balm there before it’s too late because it will happen. So be a little bit proactive and have some at the ready for when this will happen to your baby, and don’t beat yourself up over it. Just realize that, okay, I may have been even a half hour of sitting in poop if you’re in the car, that will really wreak havoc on their bottoms, so just got to be on top of it, and it’s something that we all struggle with.
Alyssa: Yeah, and it does not make baby happy at all. Baby feels it. So people can find your products at Cindy’s Suds?
Cindy: At www.cindyssuds.com, and if you live in the Grand Rapids area, we are carried at Harvest Health and Kingma’s, Hopscotch, Bridge Street Baby in Rockford. So you can find us in several Grand Rapids locations.
Alyssa: I was looking for your stuff at Harvest Health a while back. I went with my daughter, and I was walking up and down these aisles, like what the heck, and they were like, can I help you, ma’am? I’m like, yes, I’m looking for Cindy’s Suds. “Oh, she has her own little area over here.” I was like, all right, Cindy! You had your own little display under the front wall. It was really nice.
Cindy: Yeah, it’s nice. They’ve been great. We’ve been partners with Harvest Health for years, and so it’s just been fun just to work with them over the years, and they have a display on an endcap for us and kind of a separate area, so if you can’t find it at Harvest Health or Kingma’s, they will gladly show you. It is there, and both of those stores are amazing local stores and they carry almost all of our products, and they carry a nice, large display. So we are there, so if you can’t find us, just ask, and they will gladly point you in the right direction.
Alyssa: Awesome. Thanks again. Email us: info@goldcoastdoulas. You can find us online, www.goldcoastdoulas.com. we’re also on Facebook, Instagram, SoundCloud, and iTunes. We’ll talk to you next time.