The skin of your newborn baby may be visually different from what you may expect, especially if that expectation has been derived from the television, advertisements and glossy magazines showing a clean, calm and smiling newborn baby. There are a number of primary aspects of your new baby's skin that may be apparent.
At first your newborn baby's skin will be coated in a substance called vernix, which is whitish in color and of a greasy texture. Vernix is a natural protective barrier that prevents your baby's skin from absorbing excessive amounts of water and fluid whilst at the same time providing your baby with additional protection from minor skin irritations such as flaking and peeling. Some hospitals remove this substance immediately after delivery of your baby, but some keep it on for a period to aid in maximizing protection for your newborn baby. The standard practice varies from hospital to hospital.
Since your baby has been immersed in fluid for so long, the skin on your baby's hands and feet, as well as appearing wrinkled, may also turn dry and peel to some extent, this will adjust itself rapidly.
A newborn baby's blood vessels are not stable upon delivery and the main visual impact of this is that your baby's skin will appear 'blotchy' in composition. This is entirely normal and as your baby's blood vessel system stabilizes over just a short period of time, the blotchy appearance will disappear.
Darker skin babies will often appear whiter at first, which is due to the low levels of melanin in your baby's skin. This pigment will build up over a period of time and your baby should achieve their natural color at about six months of age.
For the first few days after your new baby is born, you may notice an assortment of minor skin irritations and rashes developing on your baby's skin. In the vast majority of cases these are perfectly harmless and merely a consequence of your baby's newly exposed skin stabilizing, which generally takes about three weeks. There are three common types of skin rash and irritation experienced with a newborn baby. First, where small white spots occur, mainly on the bridge of the nose but can appear on other parts of your baby's face, this is known as Milia. This is simply the result of blocked sebaceous glands, which while regulating, excrete excess sebum on to the surface of the skin.
This is entirely temporary until the relevant glands regulate themselves, but you should avoid squeezing them and causing longer term scars since they will simply disappear after a couple of days of their own accord. Second, which is less of a problem within the carefully controlled and monitored delivery rooms of a hospital, but a heat rash can occur as a direct result of your baby becoming too warm. If this does happen, you should immediately ensure that your baby is not overwrapped in excessive clothes or blankets and that you monitor the temperature of the room and your baby's skin to achieve optimum temperature levels for your baby. Third, another rash that generally occurs in the first week of birth is typified by a spot that has a white centre and a red ring, this rash is known as Urticaria. Again this is another common type of rash which may re-occur in the first month or so, but it does not need any treatment and will disappear very quickly under normal conditions.