Parents urged to care for their baby’s skin

This follows startling reports that parents don’t understand the requirements of developing baby’s skin and specialised baby products are being ignored, among others.

Inspired by her background. Dr Carol Hlela is a Paediatric and heads the Johnson’s Baby Healthy Skin Project.

Science proves that appropriate maintenance and care of infant skin plays a critical role in the development of a healthy child.

In parnership with NGO Unjani and Paediatric Dermatologist Dr Carol Hlela, Johnson’s Baby Healthy Skin Project launched the project that would help South Africans help improve the health of more than 3m babies by 2020.

Findings reveal that: whilst we all love the softness of babies’ skin, most of us don’t realise that this amazing organ acts as the first line of defence against infection.

Small babies have developing immune systems, and skin plays a very important role in shielding them from germs and disease. However, babies’ skin is more vulnerable than adult skin because it is 30% thinner and loses moisture 2 x faster .It needs very special care;

– there is a lack of consumer education on optimal skincare for babies, which is fueled by many cultural beliefs and myths, resulting in behaviours and product choices that are not rooted in science, and negatively impact on skin health in babies;

– traditional baby skincare routines include, amongst others, using an adult bar of soap, adding antiseptic liquid to the water, or scrubbing with a sponge many times a day. This means that the baby’s skin barrier is compromised and irritated by the harsh cleansers;

– poor socio-economic conditions make skin problems more difficult to confront. Babies are more exposed to the elements, and conditions like dry itchy skin can get out of control, letting in bacteria that will impact negatively on a baby’s health as it grows.  

Dr Hlela a Paediatric Dermatologist with a Masters in Science in Global Health Science (MSc GHS) and a PhD in Clinical Medicine from Oxford University, says:”The Johnson’s Baby Healthy Skin Project is helping me to realise my personal goal to improve children’s lives through skincare.”

“I realised that the majority of patients had skin rashes, and that getting medical help took a distance of almost 300km. This inspired by my journey to specialise in paediatric dermatology, as I was exceedingly familiar with the importance of healthy baby skin,” she said.

Currently, there are over 30 Unjani Clinics throughout South Africa, mostly found in rural areas.

The study also investigated that disturbingly, in SA 34% of children under the age of 5, have no access to clean water and in 2015, 5.9m children under the age of 5 died and 50% of those deaths occurred in Africa.

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