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Dry Skin On Baby’s Face: Causes, Treatment, And Prevention

Updated on June 13, 2024
baby_dry_skin_on_face_1 - Mustela USA - 1

When you have dry skin, you probably don’t get too worked up about it — you know what to do. But as a new parent, if you notice something as common as dry skin on your baby’s face, you go straight to your computer to see what’s wrong and how you can help.

In this article, we’ll tell you the causes of dry skin as well as treatment options so your little one can get some relief. We’ll also share some tips on how to prevent the condition in the first place.

What Is Dry Skin?

The answer is pretty intuitive. Dry skin is skin that’s rough to the touch, flaky, peeling, sensitive, itchy, or even painful. It indicates an issue with the skin barrier, the outermost layer of skin.

Dry skin is even more prevalent for babies because their skin barrier is 30% thinner than that of an adult. In fact, a baby’s hydrolipidic layer doesn’t mature until they’re two years old, meaning your little one may be extra susceptible to skin irritation and dryness.

Dry Skin On Baby’s Face: Causes

Beyond the fact that a baby’s skin hasn’t completely matured yet, there are several reasons they may be experiencing dry skin on their face. Let’s take a look.

Genetic Disposition

First of all, dry skin can be a matter of genetics. Some babies will inherit genes that cause their sebum production and moisture regulation to be disrupted, resulting in dry skin.

Newborn Skin Peeling

If you notice your newborn’s skin peeling soon after birth, rest assured this is completely normal. Skin will peel for a week or two as it adjusts to being outside the womb.

Environment

Various environmental factors could also be triggering dry skin on your baby’s face. For instance, climates that lack humidity will dry out the skin. Cold, windy conditions do the same.

Contact With An Irritant

The dry skin on your baby’s face may also be due to an irritant, such as a perfume or detergent that’s been used to wash their clothing or their bedding.

Allergens

For baby, facial dry skin could also indicate an allergic reaction. Common triggers include dust, plants, and certain foods.

Dehydration

If your little one is not drinking enough breast milk or formula, they can get dehydrated. This could be another reason they’re suffering from dry skin on their face.

Overwashing

baby dry skin on face

Your baby’s dry skin might also be the result of overwashing. If you’re cleaning their face too often or giving them long baths (especially with hot water), you may be stripping their skin of much-needed oils.

Alcohol-Based Lotions

As alcohol is drying, lotions with this ingredient will end up pulling the moisture from your baby’s skin.

Baby Eczema

Certain inflammatory skin conditions, like eczema, can cause babies to have dry skin on their face. Baby eczema is very common, affecting 15-20% of infants under two years of age in the United States. It causes skin to be itchy, dry, and extra sensitive.

Baby eczema is chronic, so it may flare up from time to time. Many children grow out of it, but for some, it persists into adulthood.

Ichthyosis

Ichthyosis is a chronic genetic skin disorder that causes dry, scaly skin that appears rough. With this condition, dead skin cells are shed too slowly, resulting in a build-up on the top layer of the skin or moisture loss from lower layers.

Ichthyosis can be present at birth or develop in childhood.

Dry Skin On Baby’s Face: Treatment

baby laying down on back in crib

For a baby, dry skin will often resolve itself, but there are some things you can do to speed up the healing.

Moisturize Several Times A Day

First, you want to get a good moisturizer specially formulated for baby’s sensitive skin. Apply it in the morning and after bathtime to keep your baby’s skin hydrated.

Mustela’s Nourishing Lotion with Cold Cream and Nourishing Cream with Cold Cream are good choices to get that moisture back into your little one’s skin, as they feature hydrating ingredients like Avocado Perseose ®, coconut oil, sunflower seed oil, and shea butter.

Only Use Gentle, Fragrance-Free Products

When treating dry skin on baby’s face, you want to be sure that anything you use, from cleansers and face wipes to creams and lotions, is gentle and fragrance-free.

Run A Humidifier At Home

Running a humidifier will help put moisture back in the air and hydrate your baby’s dry skin.

Ensure Baby Is Drinking Enough

Breastfeeding or bottle feeding is the best way to keep your little one hydrated and nourished. Keep track of your baby’s feedings and wet diapers, and if you notice they’re not drinking enough, offer a bottle or breastfeed more often.

Identify And Stay Away From Any Allergens And Irritants

Of course, if your baby’s skin is reacting to an allergen or irritant, keeping the offending item away from them is the most important thing you can do to help their skin heal.

Pat Away Drool And Mucus

If you’re cleaning your baby’s face after they’ve eaten or spit up, or around their nose if they have the sniffles, you’ll want to pat gently (never rub) so you don’t irritate their skin.

Mustela’s Cleansing Wipes, made of natural ingredients including Avocado Perseose ® and aloe, will clean and soothe their delicate skin.

Talk To Your Doctor

If you’ve tried these things and your baby’s skin is still dry, you might want to check in with your doctor.

Dry Skin On Baby’s Face: Prevention

Keeping dry skin at bay is all about maintaining good skincare habits and being mindful of your little one’s environment.

Give Baby Warm But Not Hot Baths

When your little one takes a splash in the bath, you’ll want to be sure the water is not too hot and they don’t stay in the bath too long. Fifteen minutes is sufficient.

Limit Baths To Two Or Three Times Per Week

Speaking of baths, you’ll also want to bathe them only two to three times a week or you risk stripping their skin of moisture. After the bath, be sure to gently pat your baby dry and apply moisturizer.

Use Only Gentle Skincare And Bathtime Products

Mom using gentle skincare to help baby dry skin on face

As we said, when it comes to cleansers, moisturizers, and anything else used on your baby’s skin, be sure to stick with fragrance-free, gentle formulations.

If your baby is prone to eczema, Mustela’s Stelatopia Intense Eczema Relief can help.

This natural yet effective emollient will relieve itching and irritation and while soothing and restoring your baby’s skin barrier with ingredients like colloidal oatmeal, sunflower oil distillate, and Avocado Perseose®.

Hydrate Often With Creams And Lotions

As we said, hydration is key to avoiding bouts of dry skin. Ointments, creams, and lotions with ingredients like shea butter, olive oil, cold cream, avocado, and coconut oil, for example, will help replenish lipids and soothe skin.

Turn Down The Heat

Although it’s nice to be toasty, indoor heating can be very drying to a baby’s sensitive skin. During the winter months, you might think about turning the heat down a notch and giving your baby an extra layer instead.

Avoid Too Much Air Conditioning

Likewise, in the summer, air conditioning can dry out your baby’s skin. This is because air conditioners remove moisture from the air. Too much exposure to air conditioners also inhibits the skin’s oil production, weakening the skin barrier.

Protect Baby’s Skin Outside

When you step outside with your baby, you want to be sure their skin is protected. In the winter, bundle them up, and be sure to put an ointment or rich cream moisturizer on any exposed skin.

Keep Them Out Of The Sun

Of course you’ll want to enjoy some sunny days together, but when you go out, don’t forget the sunscreen. Remember, sunscreen is only appropriate for babies six months and older.

Before that, it’s best that they stay out of the sun, or if you have to go out, stay in the shade or give your little one a big, floppy hat.

Use Gentle Laundry Detergent

Another way to prevent dry skin on baby’s face is to be mindful of the laundry detergent you use. Like with skin and bath products, you’ll want to choose something gentle and fragrance-free.

Skin To Smile About

happy baby with mom applying cream on face

As you see, it’s not easy to avoid dry skin on baby’s face altogether thanks to the fact that their skin is so sensitive and not fully matured. But the good news is that dry skin is easy to treat and prevent.

If you want to keep your baby’s skin moisturized, look no further than Mustela. Our hydrating creams and lotions, like Hydra Bebe Facial Cream and Stelatopia Emollient Face Cream for eczema-prone skin, are full of naturally hydrating and soothing ingredients.

With Mustela products on hand, your baby’s skin can say goodbye to dry and hello to happy hydration.

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