As smooth as a baby's … Why you might find dry skin on your baby's forehead, scalp, or face

Keep your little one happy and healthy by learning what causes very dry baby skin and how to prevent it.

Updated 5 April 2023


AuthorBy Cleanipedia Team

Reading Time5 minutes

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close-up of a baby's face after successfully treating dry skin on baby forehead

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Key steps to dealing with dry baby skin

  • Let newborn skin-peeling take its course.

  • For dry skin on baby's head and face, keep baby hydrated with regular feeds. Dehydration is a common cause of dry skin.

  • For ichthyosis or eczema discuss prescription creams with your GP.

  • Stick to short, lukewarm baths.

  • Use mild soap like Baby Dove to wash skin.

  • Use mild detergents like Persil Non-Bio for clothing. 

Is your little one unlucky enough to suffer from dry patches and a flaky scalp? Read our top tips on how to treat very dry baby skin – in particular, when it is found on the forehead, scalp, and face.    

If your baby is suffering with very dry baby skin, it may be time to consider changing up the products you use. Mild soaps and detergents are best so why not try brands such as Baby Dove, Persil Non-Bio, and Neutral 0%?

Most common causes for newborn dry scalp and skin

A newborn's dry face, forehead or scalp is not unusual but do you know what causes it? Here are a few top causes for dry patches on baby skin around their face:

  1. 1

    New-born dry face caused by naturally peeling skin. The most common cause for dry skin on your baby’s face in the first week or two is natural exfoliation. The amniotic fluid prevents this from happening inside the womb, so the skin is likely to peel for a short while after birth. Preterm babies will peel less than those born at term while those born late will peel more.

  2. 2

    Dry patches on baby skin caused by lengthy baths. Are you prone to giving your baby long baths in warm water? This could increase the risk of dry skin as it strips away the body’s naturally produced oils in the skin. Stick to shorter baths and see if the dry skin clears up or reduces.

  3. 3

    Very dry baby skin caused by dehydration. Just as with adults, your baby could simply be dehydrated. Make sure you keep them fed and hydrated throughout the day and night.

  4. 4

    Dry skin on baby's forehead, scalp or facial skin caused by a medical condition. If your baby’s skin is dry and not caused by one of the above causes then it could be ichthyosis. This is a condition which causes scaly-looking skin and is usually diagnosed by a doctor based on physical examination, family medical history, and a blood or skin sample.

  5. 5

    Dry patches on baby skin caused by eczema. If you notice red and chafed skin or itchy, dry, peeling skin, then this could be a sign of eczema. Read about common eczema triggers here.

Steps to treat dry skin on baby's forehead, scalp, and facial areas

With the following steps, you can learn how to treat the above causes for dry skin on your baby's scalp, forehead, and facial areas.

  • For natural peeling ... skin peeling in the first couple of weeks after birth is a completely natural process so don't panic. Most babies will not require treatment but to speed up the process you can try dry humidifiers or warm baths.

  • For dehydration ... give your baby regular feeds. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommend exclusive breastfeeding for six months from the time of birth but this isn't possible for every mum. If you are not breastfeeding, keep your baby hydrated with your chosen formula instead.

  • For eczema and ichthyosis ... speak to your doctor for advice on appropriate creams to treat it. Eczema and ichthyosis cannot be cured, sadly., but their symptoms can be managed.

How to prevent dry skin on baby's head, face, and forehead

While it is important to know common causes and treatment for dry skin, it’s also important to protect your baby and prevent dry skin where possible. Dry scalp and facial skin can be easily prevented using the following steps:

  1. 1

    Limit your baby’s bath time to no more than 15 minutes.

  2. 2

    Ensure that you use a soft towel when drying your baby’s skin, always patting instead of rubbing.

  3. 3

    Always use mild soaps such as Baby Dove for washing your baby.

  4. 4

    Switch your detergent and fabric conditioner to milder alternatives such as Persil Non-Bio and Comfort Pure.

  5. 5

    Use a baby-safe moisturiser if needed.

Follow these guidelines to help care for your newborn baby; dry scalp, forehead, and facial skin needn't be a concern anymore - your little bundle will have skin as smooth as, well, a baby!

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