Scientific interview –
frequently asked questions at the dermatologist’s clinic

Answered by Dr. Christina Schnopp

Clinic and Polyclinic for Dermatology and Allergology, TU Munich

How often should I bath my little one? Is clear water sufficient or should I use a bath product?

The bathing and washing habits for the little ones are very different in different countries.

A short time ago the effects of washing on the little ones from 7 days to 4 weeks old were scientifically investigated1. One sample group was bathed twice a week in clear water and the other group was washed with a cloth and clear water. Results showed only small differences, although the values for the skin barrier function in the diaper area were slightly better in those children that were bathed.

Twice-weekly bathing can therefore be recommended.

In doing so it is important to ensure the correct water and room temperature. The water should be between 36 and 38°C (body temperature) and the bathroom a pleasant 23 – 25°C.

Use of a bath product can be useful for gentle cleaning or to minimise skin irritations. Bear in mind that the skin barrier can also be affected by pure water, at least temporarily. Ideal wash lotions and bath products for children should clean the skin gently, be pH neutral or slightly acidic in order to maintain the acid mantle, and should not irritate eyes if it comes into contact with them2.

In a study over 8 weeks, it was shown that the use of suitable bath products had no negative influence on the skin’s function; some measured values were actually better than those in the group of children that were only washed with clear water3.

A suitable bath product can therefore be recommended.

1) Garcia Bartels N, Mleczko A, Schink T et al. Influence of bathing or washing on skin barrier function in newborns during the first four weeks of life. Skin Pharmacol Physiol 2009; 22: 248-57.

2) Blume-Peytavi U, Cork MJ, Faergemann J et al. Bathing and cleansing in newborns from day 1 to first year of life: recommendations from a European round table meeting. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol 2009; 23: 751-9.

3) Garcia Bartels N, Scheufele R, Prosch F et al. Effect of standardized skin care regimens on neonatal skin barrier function in different body areas. Pediatr Dermatol 2010; 27: 1-8.