The Science – An Overview
Posted on 4/10/13 8:47 PM
A Closer Look At Skin
What does skin do? And how do we look after it?
Skin is nature’s ultimate protection. Our body’s largest organ is something to be cherished. Skin is our first line of defence against environmental harm, but it does so much more. Our skin removes waste from our bodies, absorbs healthy nutrients and moisture and is home to cells that help the body’s immune system. In other words, healthy skin works to keep the rest of the body healthy too. There is no artificial replacement, so it makes sense to look after the skin we have and to avoid nasty chemicals and irritants that can harm it. This is particularly important with babies’ skin.
How does the Skin work as a barrier?
Nature’s wonder barrier the Skin is made up of three main layers – the epidermis, dermis and the underlying fatty tissue.
Within these layers lie the blood vessels, nerves, sweat/oil glands and hair follicles. The outer layer, the epidermis, is the first line of defence. It has four layers, three of which contain living cells and one, which contains dead cells and creates the skin barrier. In a newborn, this outer most layer of dead cells is the stratum corneum is made up of 10 to 20 microscopic layers, but in premature babies, this number drops to between two to three layers. In babies born less than 23 weeks gestation, this layer may be virtually non-existent. As a result, the risk of damaging these newborns’ skin is higher.
Your Baby's Developing Skin Barrier
Babies are born with an alkaline skin surface, but in the first few days of life that changes to mildly acidic. This fine film, called an ‘acid mantle’ helps protect the skin.
Their major protective barrier, however, is the lipid (fat) barrier formed and maintained in the epidermis. The epidermis is a continuously regenerating organ, the barrier takes approximately 4 weeks to develop. The cells at the base of the epidermis, have pouches of stored fat which are released to form a lipid barrier, as the cells move upwards towards the surface. Together they make a kind of brick wall – the bricks are the dead cells and, with the help of enzymes, the lipids become the mortar between them. These dead cells are being shed continuously and the barrier renewed by the cells below.
Once formed, this wall is a barrier to infection. It also regulates temperature, keeps the skin hydrated and insulates against the cold. But if this barrier is damaged, inflammatory conditions such as eczema and other chronic skin conditions can result.
Maintaining the Skin Barrier
This delicate barrier is easily compromised and damaged which leads to a wide range of inflammatory symptoms.
The two main causes of damage are: delipidisation of the skin barrier by overuse of detergents;
And stimulation of inflammatory responses by foreign materials – such as chemicals, irritants and other allergens.
These are often found in skin care and household products.
We recommend avoiding skin care and cleaning products with your newborn for at least the first 4-6weeks whilst the skin barrier is forming – Water is best.
After this time we continue to advocate using such products sparingly and ensure you have read the label to avoid nasties and riskies.
It is also important to patch test any new product before using it.
Skin Irritants In Your Home
Have you noticed redness, little bumps or a rash on your baby’s skin?
These are often signs that his or her body is responding to something they’ve come in contact with. It could be something they’ve eaten, inhaled or even absorbed through their sensitive young skin. Sometimes these problems go away by themselves, but at other times you have to turn detective and work out what it is they are reacting to.
It pays to look at your environment and what touches your baby’s skin – wipes, nappies, clothing, bed linen, skincare and cleaning products.
If you can identify the culprit you can stop using it, but if you can’t your baby may have ongoing skin problems. It makes sense to play it safe and use only low-risk products without chemical nasties and fragrances.
By being aware of what’s in your environment and making simple changes to what you buy, you can avoid a potentially harmful build-up of toxins in your baby’s body.
No, you can’t take away all of life’s risks and protect your baby from everything, but by becoming aware of what’s in your home you make it healthier and safer for everyone.
Are Chemicals Bad
We are not in to scare tactics here at ThinkWise – Not all chemicals are BAD. It is important to understand that there is no such thing as “chemical free”, the world we live in and our bodies are made up of chemicals and rely on chemicals to function.
For example water is a chemical, so is oxygen, salt, sugar, citric acid, magnesium, zinc, caffeine… We’re not going to make you redo chemistry class, we just want to help you understand that pure substances called chemical elements and chemical compounds, as well as mixtures of these make up the world we live in.
Our biodegradable wipes for example are made from viscose CAS-number 9004-34-6. This is a chemical in a solid form, made from plant fibres, that has been made into cloth. However we have not added any liquid chemicals to them like the long list on the back of the baby wipes packets in the supermarket.
Just because a product says it is natural on the label does not automatically make it safe. Some of the deadliest poisons known to man are from nature or have been copied from nature.
Nasty chemicals are everywhere lead, dioxin, phthalates, formaldehyde, mercury, triclosan, BPA.
The amounts of these stored up in your body is alarming, and even in the blood of your unborn baby.
We call this exposure and build up chemicals your ‘Chemical Load’ it is often also known as Body Burden.
We want to help reduce the Chemical Load on your baby’s developing body and over time hopefully on you and your whole household. We believe that our precautionary and safety first approach is very important to the future outcomes of our health and the quality of our lives.