How to treat baby’s irritated skin

Irritated skin - baby & Child
Nappy rash, chickenpox, insect bites and scratches, baby’s life is full of itches and ouches… These inevitable skin adventures often lead to irritated or sore skin.
Here’s a few tips to help avoid and soothe baby’s skin mishaps.

In this article:

•    Why is baby’s skin easily irritated?
•    How to soothe irritations and minor sores
•    How to prevent skin irritation

Why is baby’s skin easily irritated? 

Babies’ unique skin cell capital, prepared for a lifetime, is at its maximum at birth but their skin is still very vulnerable in the early months, because it is immature compared to that of adults:

•    Baby’s skin is finer and more fragile
•    Until 2 years of age, baby’s skin doesn’t have a full barrier function 
•    At birth, baby’s skin is dehydrated and has no protective hydrolipidic film (made of sebum and sweat). 

This has several consequences:
•    It dries out more easily 
•    It is more sensitive to external stresses: cold, wind, sun, friction, nappy maceration, saliva…  
•    It reacts with more intensity to potentially irritating substances (sensitizing ingredients that could cause allergy) 

In short, until 2 years of age, baby’s skin undergoes important developments and therefore needs to be protected

Learn more on the physiology of baby skin: discover our EV.E.I.L.S (EValuation of the Early Infant Life: the Skin) research program

How to soothe irritations and minor sores

Red bottom, irritated cheeks/mouth area, insect bites or slight burns… here’s how to care for these little skin mishaps.  

Reddish skin: body or face

Wool, synthetic or rough fabrics in direct contact with baby’s skin can cause itchiness. The mere rubbing of clothes can also cause skin irritation. Cold, dry air or even just drooling can cause irritations around the mouth and in other face areas.
What to do: 
-    Apply a repair cream
-    Choose soft 100% cotton fabrics 

Diaper rash

If you can see a rash on baby’s bottom that quickly turns into red patches, this will most likely be a diaper rash. It can occur due to irritation from wet diapers and friction, diarrhea, teething etc.
What to do: 
-    Clean the area with water and soap or with a no-rinse cleansing water, cleansing gel, liniment or cleansing milk
-    Dry carefully and apply a nappy cream as soon as redness appears 
-    If the rash doesn’t improve, seek medical advice


Itchy red, puffy, dry patches on baby’s skin? This could be eczema or atopic dermatitis.
Read our dedicated articles to learn how to identify and treat this skin condition. 

Insect bites, stings, scratches and minor injuries 

A couple of hungry mosquitoes… and baby’s skin is covered with bites… A risky stand up tentative… and there comes a fall and a bump!  
What to do: 
-    Clean carefully with water and soap and/or disinfect
-    Leave to dry
-    Apply a repair cream

Light burns

Ouch! Baby just burnt himself by running his hand under hot water! Or by spilling hot coffee? If his skin is just reddish, this is a first degree burn.
What to do:
-    Run baby’s hand under cold water for a few minutes
-    Then apply a soothing cream
-    If the burn is wider or deeper, head for the hospital! 
In case of sunburn, check our specific advice in our sun-related articles.  

How to prevent skin irritations

A few simple tips to avoid most common skin irritations, on a daily basis: 

Choose the right products

•    Pick products that are specifically designed for babies and children and adapted to their skin type: normal, dry, very sensitive or atopy-prone
•    Avoid products with alcohol and essential oils, as they can cause irritation.
•    Use a hypoallergenic detergent, suitable for baby’s skin.

Good bathing habits

•    Make sure the water is lukewarm: if it’s too hot, it can damage baby’s skin
•    If baby has dry skin, a bath every other day can be enough 
•    Dry baby’s skin with a clean, dry towel, and don’t forget the skin folds!  

Pay attention to diaper change

•    Change baby’s diapers very regularly
•    Carefully cleanse baby’s diaper area with soap and water or with cleansing water, cleansing milk, liniment, cleansing milk or baby wipes, if you’re on the go. 

Beware of extreme temperatures

•    Do not overheat your home 
•    Moisturize baby’s face when the weather gets cold
•    Protect baby’s skin from the sun.