Baby Dry Skin – My Personal Experience
I’m writing this post as a mother of a 3-year-old who is now wiser and knows more than she did 3 years ago. I come from Indonesia, though the climate is tropical I don’t feel at all hot or humid because of the wonderful invention, AC (air conditioner). My daughter has lived her entire life in an AC cooled house, and we all know that AC can dry out your skin.
Do you know what else can dry out your skin? Taking showers twice a day. Which is a custom over here: taking showers in the morning and evening and what I imagine is a practice in most tropical countries because, hello humidity! So, over here babies are bathed twice a day, just like how adults take washes twice a day. Can you imagine just how much a baby’s skin is stripped of natural skin oil with 2 baths a day? Too much than necessary.
Too many baths and living in a dry environment sounds bad enough doesn’t it? Especially for an infant. Let me spice it up a little! In Indonesia, one of the most popular baby products of all time since…forever is telon oil. Now for those unfamiliar with telon oil, or as we over here say “minyak telon”, it is one of the main products used for babies and children. There are many brands with different compositions but in general telon oil is composed of foeniculi oleum (fennel oil), cajuputi oleum (cajuput oil) and cocos oleum (coconut oil). Some brands may include olive oil or lavender oil and citronella for fragrance and mosquito repellent properties.
Just as an example, the one that I use has this composition: Cajuputi-eucalyptus oleum compositum 60.85%, cocos oleum 27.15%, foeniculi oleum 7.5%, chamomillae oleum 2.5%, citronellae olleum 2%
The purpose of applying telon oil on an infant is to provide a warm sensation on a baby’s body especially after a bath. It is also marketed as a product to prevent bloating, stimulate baby nerves, improve digestive system performance, soften skin. Quite an impressive list! It is usually applied on the neck, chest, tummy, back, arms, legs…almost everywhere.
I loved using telon oil on my daughter, so much that I skipped lotion and used that instead and used it to give her routine massages after her evening bath. I used it quite liberally. There’s just something about the smell of it that is so comforting and reminds me of childhood. I also thought that since it is made of oils it must be moisturizing! When really, it’s the opposite.
Off to the pediatrician!
To be honest I didn’t even realize my daughter had dry skin until she was about 7 months old. I noticed that her skin was ashy and rough indicating dryness. Even then I didn’t think much of it, it didn’t seem like something serious to me. When she was 7 months old, I took her to our pediatrician for a regular check up and asked about her skin as an afterthought, just in case it was something that needed to be addressed. He took a quick look and asked a few questions
“Does she take frequent baths? Do you use telon oil on her? Is the AC constantly on in your house?” All of which I responded yes. He just smiled and gave me these advices:
1. Cut down the baths to just one per day. There is no need for frequent baths especially if she’s constantly in an AC environment.
2. Put lotion on after a bath.
3. Avoid using telon oil as it is unnecessary and can be drying and irritating for some babies, and my child is one of them.
4. Switch to a gentle soap. He mentioned that this is a simple case of dry skin and nothing to worry about.
Mom guilt is so real! Although the problem isn’t at all serious, its still something that could have been avoided in the first place. So, I stopped bathing her twice a day, rather than bathing her in the morning, I gave her evening baths, because it was just my preference to have a night time routine for her plus…what does she need morning baths for anyway? Its not like she got dirty throughout the night.
I switched to a gentle liquid body wash that is soap-free, moisturizing and hypoallergenic. After bath time, I would put lotion while her skin was still damp, just so her skin will be hydrated, and the lotion will seal and lock the moisture in to keep her skin soft and moisturized. I still use telon oil from time to time particularly those that are formulated with citronella to ward off pesky mosquitoes when we go outside or visit relatives.
Just a little PSA for parents to be, new parents, parents with their nth child:
Dry baby skin is totally common and normal in the first few months of life. You will even notice dry peeling skin in the first week or so and this usually gets better quickly. Some things that might make skin even drier is bathing too frequently with soap, as soap can make skin dry or make dry skin even worse because soap strips the skin’s natural oils, and this makes it harder for babies’ skin to keep moisture in.
Try to keep bath times short and avoid using bath products that are heavily fragranced and stripping to the skin, opt for soap-free alternatives that are hypoallergenic and moisturizing.
The environment is also a major factor as low humidity makes dry skin even more likely. Some babies are born with skin conditions like eczema which causes dry skin and parents must be even more careful because dry skin can lead to irritation which can lead to flaking and dryness and when is severe enough will lead to redness, cracking and bleeding and prone to infections. Which is painful enough for an adult, imagine for an infant.
And …. if you’re from the nusantara region, please be careful with using telon oil. Although most babies respond well to using telon oil, there are some who might be sensitive towards it. Don’t use it excessively like I did, a few drops here and there rubbed gently into skin should be enough. It does smell comforting and gives a warm sensation but is not scientifically proven to be beneficial, so if your child reacts negatively towards it, please discontinue use. Babies outside the nusantara region don’t use telon oil and they’re perfectly fine. It’s not essential… Now I sound like a telon oil hater hahaha. I’m not, I still love it, just not on my daughter.
Fast-forward to now, her skin is as normal as a 3-year old’s can be. A few scars here and there from falling over and peppered with Disney band aids everywhere because she is obsessed with Mickey Mouse. I’m sure many parents can relate. Her skin is no longer ashy but, is supple and smooth. I had to go back to bathing her twice a day after she started running around and playing outside more. Of course, I would slather on lotion afterwards just to lock in the moisture and protect her skin.
As an active toddler it’s becoming harder to get her to settle down and enjoy lotion time but that’s okay, her skin is a lot stronger and less prone to dryness now as she is older, and her skin isn’t as thin and delicate.
Parenthood is a learning process, we have our ups and downs and that’s okay! I’ve learnt over overtime that my daughter has a sensitivity towards lavender oil, shrimp and milk. And that’s not at all instant revelations, believe me. Some severe reactions had to happen before I realized something was off.
So please don’t be hard on yourself! If you feel something is wrong, don’t be afraid to ask for help and consult a doctor for advice.
Much love, Fathin A.
Fathin is a content writer for Eva Purity and loves to share her own personal experiences. This post does not construe as medical diagnosis or any form of treatment for any skin issues. You should seek professional medical opinion and diagnoses.