Purpose of review: Neonatal skin acclimates rapidly to dry, aerobic conditions at birth and skin function gradually matures throughout infancy. Gentle skin care practices support the ongoing development and function of newborn skin. This article reviews research updates and current skin care recommendations for full-term infants, premature infants, and infants born with severe cutaneous manifestations of genetic skin disorders.
Recent findings: Although safe early bathing of full-term infants with environmental controls is possible, delaying the first newborn bath for 12-24 h of life offers benefits of increased parental bonding and breastfeeding success. Swaddled bathing every 4 days is an effective bathing strategy for premature neonates. Among infants with a family history of atopic dermatitis, regular application of bland skin moisturizers reduces their risk of developing the disease. For newborns with erosive or blistering genetic skin conditions, use of specialized wound dressings and emollients promotes wound healing and helps limit skin damage. Environmental control with humidified incubators helps prevent life-threatening hypernatremic dehydration among babies born with collodion membranes; however, affected infants can tolerate breaks outside of the humidifier to promote parent-infant bonding.
Summary: This article reviews infant skin care recommendations relevant to pediatric practice. Research to further optimize newborn skin care is ongoing, particularly, for the special populations of premature neonates and infants born with severe skin disease.