(BPT) - Every year an estimated 15 million babies worldwide are born prematurely, according to the World Health Organization. Premature, or preterm, infants have a higher risk of health complications compared to full-term infants; thus, it’s important for parents to understand the differences in needs when caring for a premature baby — especially when it comes to their skin.
The skin plays a vital role in processes such as temperature regulation, water loss prevention and protection from infection by harmful microorganisms, and premature babies’ skin can directly impact their overall health. When caring for premature infants, parents can take key steps to protect their vulnerable and sensitive skin.
Compared to full-term infants, premature infants’ skin is very fragile. This fragility may lead to traumatic injuries such as rips, tears or abrasions that leave the skin open and vulnerable. These injuries can result in pain, bleeding, scar formation and, most importantly, infections that may put a premature baby’s health at serious or critical risk.
Part of the normal skin function is to keep fluids inside and to keep bacteria outside, but when the skin barrier is impaired premature babies are at heightened risk for fluids to escape through the skin and rare microorganisms to enter their body. Additionally, due to underdeveloped immune systems, premature infants have little to no immunity to fight off diseases, which can allow infections from skin injuries to be fatal.
To minimize risk of skin injuries and protect premature babies’ overall health, it’s important for parents to be aware of what comes in contact with their infant’s skin.
When caring for premature babies’ skin, parents should consider the products and ingredients interacting with their delicate skin. Premature babies have a higher skin surface-to-body-area ratio than full-term babies, which makes them more vulnerable to anything applied topically to the skin such as creams, liquids, and skin care products, as they may be much more easily absorbed.
Given premature babies’ delicate skin, pediatric dermatologist Dr. Bari Cunningham, Co-Founder of Comprehensive Dermatology Group, recommends using baby wipes with minimal ingredients for cleansing. “Baby wipes should have no added alcohol and not contain any artificial fragrances to reduce the risk of allergic reactions and any contact dermatitis,” said Dr. Cunningham.
While every baby’s skin is different, the need to protect their skin remains the same. In honor of World Prematurity Day, WaterWipes® is committed to empowering parents to care for their baby’s skin with confidence. WaterWipes® Original Baby Wipes are the world’s purest wipes, made with just two ingredients: 99.9% water and a drop of fruit extract, while also plastic free.* Parents can trust that WaterWipes® were designed with babies in mind, protecting their delicate skin with a product that’s pure and gentle.
For more premature baby skin care advice, check out WaterWipes® Parent Q&A video featuring Dr. Cunningham here.
*This claim does not refer to the full product lifecycle nor the external plastic packaging and relates to the wipes only.