Skin irritations in babies

There’s nothing quite like the softness of a baby’s skin and we know that you’ll want to protect that softness for as long as possible. But a baby's skin is naturally more sensitive than that of an adult, and it can easily become dry, sore, flaky and everything in between. That’s why Bepanthen is here to give you a helping hand in caring for your precious little one.

Causes of skin irritation in babies

Every one out of two babies will experience problems with their skin. From nappy rash to scaling, blemishes to rashes, all baby skin irritations stem from the same common problem - the skin barrier becoming damaged.


There are many reasons as to why the skin barrier is so sensitive among babies, including:

  • Baby skin is thinner than adult skin, meaning irritants and other aggressors can permeate more easily.
  • The surface of your baby’s skin is very large relative to his or her weight, so there’s more scope for irritations.
  • Until three months old, your baby’s skin has a higher pH than adult skin.
  • Baby skin is still adjusting to life outside of the womb, so it’s more vulnerable to sunlight and the friction from rough fabrics.
  • Babies tend to sweat a lot, as their internal temperature is changing. Their sweat can irritate the skin.

Preventing skin irritation in babies
with baby ointment and more

Here are some quick tips for you:

  • Keep baths short and infrequent. Make sure the water isn’t too hot.
  • Avoid the use of soap.
  • Only use products that are specially formulated for babies.
  • Pat your baby’s skin dry. Never rub.
  • Wrap your baby snugly in a warm blanket during cold weather.
  • Use a gentle laundry detergent when washing baby clothes.
  • Keep your baby well hydrated.
  • Keep your baby's fingernails trimmed so that they can’t scratch any dry patches.

Skin irritation in babies are extremely common and you’ve probably done nothing wrong. But you can help to minimise the risk by following three simple prevention steps:

Parent applying barrier cream to baby's arms and hands.

1. Choose your baby products carefully

  • Mum massaging baby.
  • Ask your midwife, GP or health visitor to recommend baby products.
  • Try to look for products that are free from alcohol, colours, preservatives or fragrances.
  • Only use products that have been specially formulated for babies.
  • Any products that you use should be very mild and pH neutral.
  • Look for products that have been clinically tested.

A tight nappy can worsen a nappy rash, as it both rubs the skin (removing the skin’s protective lipids) and prevents air circulation. If left untreated, this can even lead to fungal infections such as candida albicans (thrush). Some baby wipes and cleaning products can also cause irritation.

2. Maintain a good bathing routine

  • It is essential that your baby's skin is always clean, but many experts do not recommend a daily bath, which can dry out the skin. Instead, clean the face, hands and buttocks with cotton wool and clean, lukewarm water every day.
  • When you do bathe your baby, use pH neutral, fragrance-free products that have been specially formulated for babies.
  • Make sure the bath water is lukewarm, if it’s too hot it will irritate your baby’s skin.

3. Maintain good nappy practice

  • Use high quality disposable nappies instead of washable cloth nappies, as the former is associated with less frequent and less severe nappy rash.
  • Change your baby’s nappy frequently, and immediately when soiled.
  • Use a nappy ointment during every nappy change, especially at night time when the nappy is likely to be on for the longest. Applying a thin layer to the bottom and genitals can protect the baby's sensitive skin from the causes of nappy rash at night. Look for product that contains pro-vitamin B5, which forms a protective transparent layer on the skin to prevent further irritation. Bepanthen Ointment is also free from colorants, parabens, fragrances and preservatives.
Baby bottom cream is a good way to avoid skin irritation.

If your baby is less than a year old…

Your newborn baby’s skin is especially sensitive at this time and will need specialised protection. A nappy ointment is so gentle that it can be used from birth to help the most delicate skin, even of premature babies, as it contains no added fragrances, preservatives, colourants or antiseptics. An easy-to-apply and breathable barrier ointment helps to protect your baby’s bottom from the causes of a nappy rash, and to keep your little bottoms happy and protected.