Most people would agree that babies have great skin. Understanding the fundamental differences between baby and adult skin can help us better appreciate why our skin changes over time and how to best maintain its quality as we age.
Visible and anatomic differences
Generally, baby skin is smoother and suppler than adult skin as they contain slightly higher water content (roughly 75%). Adults contain closer to 65% water and the elderly are closer to 55% water. You can think of baby skin like a sponge that has absorbed more water, making it feel softer and more flexible than a drier sponge.
More on its functions:
While the overall functions of the skin in acting as a physical barrier, radiation barrier, moisture barrier, temperature regulator, and stimulus sensor, the capacity for these functions are somewhat different.
Exposure and water loss:
Baby skin is slightly more prone to environmental irritants and water loss than adult skin, possibly due to having thinner stratum corneum and epidermis (the outermost layers of the skin).
Research has shown that regular use of moisturizers for the first 6 months of life reduces eczema incidence by 50%. Thus the regular application of moisturizers can help maintain skin water content and act as a barrier to irritants.
A burst of a myth:
Owing to their size, children have a higher skin surface area to total body volume ratio. They also have lesser sweat glands than adults. These contribute to fluctuations in ambient temperature.
While this anatomical difference can mean that they can easily get cold, more often than not it’s actually the other way around. With layers upon layers of clothes and blankets, it is not only too hot for them; they usually don’t have the ability to remove the layers themselves to cool down.