When my baby was born, he was covered in a cheese-like white gunk called vernix. As a new parent, I thought it would be good to “clean” it off my baby, but my midwife advised me not to bathe him until after 5 days. I was told that it serves to conserve heat, to protect the baby from environmental stress, and to moisturise his delicate skin. In addition, research shows that removing vernix is not necessary for hygienic reasons, and leaving it may even provide antibacterial promotion and wound healing.

My baby’s skin was great until he turned 4 weeks old, when he developed red and white bumps all over his face. He did not seem too bothered by it. I was the one who got anxious because of the way it looked, but his GP said it’s just baby acne.

*not my baby, but baby acne looks like this

Baby acne can occur anywhere on the face, but usually appears on the cheeks, nose and forehead. Baby acne is common — and temporary. Apparently, there’s not much you can do to prevent baby acne. It usually clears up on its own, without scarring.

The baby acne did eventually clear up, but was later replaced by itchy, red flare-ups that comes and goes. Until now, I don’t know for sure what it is or what causes it. My baby is almost 4 months old and exclusively breastfed, so I tried cutting off dairy from my diet but it did not seem to help.

One doctor recommended a 1% hydrocortisone cream to be used in conjunction with a moisturiser. We already had sorbolene at home so I used that. It helped tame his skin, but it’s summer in Sydney right now and his flare-up has been a constant occurrence every time there’s a heat wave.

We recently just visited his pediatrician, originally for a follow-up regarding another health condition (he developed a urinary tract infection at 5 weeks old), but I thought I’d ask about his skin anyway. All this time I thought my son has eczema, but his pediatrician assessed it wasn’t so. She thinks that hormones might be the culprit and did not prescribe any medication.

As a mum I would feel gutted seeing him scratch his face and the back of his head, and just recently I had to wash his pillowcase stained with blood because he scratched too hard with his long fingernails.

And so here I am, on the constant lookout for ways to manage my son’s sensitive skin. I would hesitate to put any more steroids on his delicate face, and keen to try organic and all-natural products for my own baby. For starters, I’ve read wonderful things about oatmeal bath and looking forward to try it.