Update on Newborn Bathing

Joanne McManus Kuller, RN, MS

Disclosures

NAINR. 2014;14(4):166-170. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Abstract

The skin, along with other organ systems, makes rapid changes as the newborn moves from an intrauterine aquatic environment to an extrauterine atmospheric environment. Some of these changes include the development of an acid mantle and an increase in skin hydration.

While skin care and bathing practices have traditionally been based on the patient's culture, regional customs and anecdotal experience, recent evidence-based recommendations have been made and will be presented in this article (AWHONN, 2013). Hopefully, with further research and the incorporation of evidence-based recommendations into skin care of the infant, we will see improved skin health and a decrease in skin disease in infancy and childhood.

Introduction

The skin, along with other organ systems, must change rapidly as the newborn moves from an intrauterine aquatic environment to an extrauterine atmospheric environment. These changes are dramatic immediately after birth, but the maturation of infants' skin structures & functions continues during the first months and year of life. Some of these changes to the skin include the development of an acidic surface, an increase in skin hydration, an increase in stratum corneum thickness and a mature functioning of the sebaceous and sweat glands.[1] Most important is the development of the skin barrier function. This is a combination of skin surface pH, transepidermal water loss (TEWL), skin hydration and other biophysical properties, which are associated with the skin's protective functions. It is during this period of physiologic transition that the first bath is given.

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