Baby Skin vs. Adult Skin Structure, Function and Composition

Apr 1, 2009 | Contact Author | By: Georgios N. Stamatas and Katharine Martin, Johnson & Johnson
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Title: Baby Skin vs. Adult Skin Structure, Function and Composition
baby skinx skin maturationx keratinocytesx skin barrierx noninvasive methodsx
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Keywords: baby skin | skin maturation | keratinocytes | skin barrier | noninvasive methods

Abstract: Research shows that baby skin is different than adult skin in terms of structure, biochemical composition and function, as the authors review here. The adaptation of these skin qualities continues during the first year of life and should be considered when designing baby skin care products.

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Baby-smooth skin is considered the holy grail of cosmetic aspirations for adult consumers. At the same time, infant skin is frequently characterized as delicate and fragile. It is well-known, for example, that infant skin is prone to certain types of dermatitides such as diaper rash. Moreover, there has been a rise in the incidence of atopic dermatitis in infants during the last few decades,1 which is frequently attributed to incorrect use of skin care products that are harsh on baby skin.

This paradox of baby skin having properties desired by adults yet being much more sensitive exemplifies the fact that baby skin is different than adult skin. Nevertheless, little has been published about such differences.On the contrary, many works have been published in which researchers believe the skin structure and function is fully developed in babies at birth or a few weeks after birth.3-4

Thus, research has more recently explored and objectively documented possible differences between infant and adult skin in terms of structure, function, and biochemical composition. Due to the sensitive nature of the participants in such studies, it is necessary to use noninvasive methods that are tolerable to both adults and infants.

Although the effort is ongoing, it has already provided ample scientific evidence supporting the uniqueness of baby skin compared to adult skin. This unique status of baby skin dictates the necessity of carefully formulating skin care products that specifically cater to the needs of baby skin. For the purpose of this discussion, adult skin refers to individuals more than 20 years of age, and baby or infant skin refers to infants less than one year old, although many observations can be extended to the skin of toddlers ages 1–3.

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Figure 1. On a microscopic level

 Figure 1. On a microscopic level

Figure 2. Typical water absorption

 Figure 2. Typical water absorption

Figure 3. Typical water concentration profiles

 Figure 3. Typical water concentration profiles

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