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Smooth baby skin? Ha! Many infants have bumps, flakes and scales in their first couple of months. Here's the lowdown on four conditions:
1. Baby Acne: Wash your little one's face daily with a mild, fragrance-free soap, says Daniel Krowchuk, M.D., professor of pediatrics and dermatology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C.
2. Cradle Cap: Whether bald or sporting a full head of hair, your baby's scalp could be plagued with yellowish scaly patches known as cradle cap. Shampoo with a mild baby shampoo two to three times a week, or, "if there are lots of scales, use a mild anti-dandruff shampoo with either zinc pyrithione or selenium sulfide," recommends Krowchuk. You can also rub a little mineral oil on the scalp, then remove scales with a comb.
3. Diaper Rash: If red bumps appear on your baby's buttocks and genitals, change her diaper more frequently and use diaper cream liberally to protect the skin against the, er, elements. If you don't see improvement within five days, call your pediatrician.
4. Eczema: Eczema—or red, rough patches—is the most common chronic skin condition in children. Use fragrance-free cleanser, bathe your baby every other day and moisturize her twice a day with fragrance-free lotion. Dress her in cotton clothing and stick with mild detergents such as Ivory Snow or Dreft. "Even if you're doing everything right, flare-ups do occur," Krowchuk says. Talk to your pediatrician, who may prescribe a mild steroid cream.