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Influence of Bathing or Washing on Skin Barrier Function in Newborns during the First Four Weeks of Life

Garcia Bartels N.a · Mleczko A.a · Schink T.b · Proquitté H.c · Wauer R.R.c · Blume-Peytavi U.a
aDepartment of Dermatology and Allergy, Clinical Research Center for Hair and Skin Science, bDepartment of Medical Statistics and Clinical Epidemiology, and cClinic for Neonatology CCM, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany Skin Pharmacol 2009;22:248–257 (DOI:10.1159/000235552)


Background and Objectives: After birth, skin barrier function is in state of flux and at risk of dysfunction. In a prospective clinical study, we compared the effects of 2 standard cleansing procedures on skin barrier function in newborns. Methods: Fifty-seven healthy full-term neonates aged ≤48 h were randomly assigned to either a bathing group (group B; n = 29), who were bathed with clear water twice weekly, or to a washing group (group W; n = 28), who were washed with a washcloth moistened with clear water twice weekly. Transepidermal water loss (TEWL), skin pH, stratum corneum hydration (SCH) and sebum production were measured at days 2, 7 and 28 of life on the forehead, abdomen, upper leg and buttock. Results: Group B showed significantly lower TEWL on the buttock and higher SCH on the abdomen and forehead compared to group W at day 28. Conclusions: Both skin care regimens do not harm the adaptation of the skin barrier in healthy neonates within the first 4 weeks of life. Skin barrier function differentiates after birth in a regionally specific fashion.


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