“Soft skin like a baby” is a common simile used to compliment amazing skin. However, mothers know that it is not so easy to maintain the baby’s skin. In the initial years of his life, your baby might face many skin problems like dry skin, rashes, baby acne or baby eczema. There are many factors leading to these problems, including hereditary. But one thing that is most often the culprit of skin problems in babies is the pH imbalance. Before we discuss this further, we need to understand what pH is?
pH stands for potential hydrogen and indicates how acidic or alkaline a substance is. Lower pH indicates that the substance is acidic in nature and higher pH indicates that the substance is alkaline in nature. pH scale ranges from 0-14, with acids low and bases high on scale. The pH balance of baby’s skin is about 5.5.
Just like any “chemical” substance, our body has a pH level too. Water has a pH of 7, this is neutral. Since our internal fluids are mostly made up of water, they all have a pH 7 or something near it. Similarly, our skin has a pH level too. Technically, it is not the skin that has the pH, but the sweat and sebaceous glands on the skin that gives it an acidic nature. It is important to maintain the pH level of the skin so as to avoid various skin problems.
A baby’s skin is different from that of an adult and special care has to be taken to avoid any skin problems. Baby’s skin is thinner, more prone to dryness and is very sensitive. Some of the special characteristics of a baby’s skin are:
The ideal pH level of a baby’s skin (or even our skin) is 5.5. As it is a lower value than the pH of water (7), it is fair to infer that our skin is acidic in nature. It is so because an acidic skin is more equipped to fight the spread of bacteria or fungi. It is absolutely important to maintain this 5.5 level of pH. Even a small variation from 5.5 can give rise to a lot of skin problems, especially in babies who have more sensitive skin.
For instance, there is an enzyme that lives on a baby’s skin that is responsible for thinning out the old skin so that the new skin can grow. However, this enzyme is pH sensitive. This means that if the pH is higher than 5.5, then it will thin the skin much more than required. A thinner skin would be more prone to irritation, rashes and eczema.
Soaps and body lotions need to match the pH level of baby’s skin. The commercially manufactured soaps that we adults use have a pH factor of 9. Even most of the “mild” cleansers have a pH factor close to 7. None of these suits baby’s skin. For baby skin, we need a soap that has the pH factor 5.5. So it is important you pick a baby soap that can maintain the pH level of the baby’s skin and not disrupt it, thereby leading to skin problems.
With the huge amount of noise that the advertisements make, claiming their products have antibacterial, antibiotic or natural ingredients, it is extremely confusing to pick a soap that suits your baby’s skin. But the following tips might help:
A baby’s skin is very sensitive, so maintaining a proper pH balance will help in treating and preventing major skin problems.