Before your baby enters the world, all you can think about is holding your precious little bundle of joy. You dream about kissing their delicate skin and baby’s hands and feet. You may even argue with your partner on who’s genes the baby would take. Then once the baby comes into the world, you promise yourself that your baby will never be put in harm’s way.
So, if you see scratches on the baby’s face, and that too, from their own baby nails, it is scary! You must be feeling guilty and bad about how you couldn’t even protect your own child, but worry not. We will explain to you why babies scratch their faces and what can be done to prevent this from happening again?
These minor scratches do not remain on your baby’s face and would vanish in a day or two. If the scratch marks are a little deeper and may draw blood, this will take around a week or two to heal appropriately. Stay Calm! Minor scratches heal relatively quickly and wouldn’t leave scars behind.
You can quickly treat scratches on the baby’s face by washing the skin gently. Tap the sensitive skin with a towel. Now apply moisturizer or antiseptic cream to keep the baby’s skin moisturized. According to health experts, scratch marks heal best when kept a little moist. So keep the moisture locked in for a speedy recovery.
Let us get back to the question we asked first, which is ‘why a baby scratches his/her face?’. You need to have some handy info on how to prevent it from happening next time and save your baby from more severe scratches.
Why Do Babies Scratch Their Face?
It may seem odd to see this behavior in babies, but there could be many reasons your baby may be doing this. We are discussing some of the key factors below.
- Startle Reflex
When babies are born, they have very little control over their bodies. Most of the baby’s actions are sudden movements. These sudden movements are a common newborn reflex known as Moro Reflex.
Newborn babies are sensitive to everything, be it light, loud noises, or even life in general. Even a dull thud of footsteps or a dim light could startle the baby as well, which causes them to scratch their own face accidentally.
This must sound awful to the new parents as they may feel helpless in this situation. Take it easy! In around three to six months, you will see that the startle reflex has considerably lessened, and the constant scratching on the baby’s skin is no more. The first sign of this reflex going away is when you notice your baby’s movements becoming less bouncy.
In order to help out your baby, give them space each day to flail their arms and legs so babies stop scratching their faces all the time.
- Skin Irritation And Dry Skin
Babies scratch their faces mostly due to dry skin. Your baby has very delicate and permeable skin, which means moisture does not stay locked in, making the baby’s skin dry. This causes their skin barrier to break out too. Dry and itchy skin is the reason babies scratch their faces with sharp nails.
As we discussed before, baby skin is fragile and sheer. This allows growth of dirt and bacteria on the baby’s healthy skin. Due to this baby might have acne or pimples, which causes the baby to scratch his face until it bleeds.
- Sharp Nails
Baby’s nails grow very rapidly, so you really need to keep up with their nail timeline. Sometimes they need to be cut twice in order to prevent your baby from scratching your face as the baby’s hands are mostly curled up near their own face, which can lead to baby skin being scratched. Sometimes deeper scratches adorn your cute little baby’s face.
- Skin Infections
Some babies scratch their faces because of certain skin conditions or allergies present within the hormones. Diseases like eczema, scabies, or baby rash can lead to itchiness. You can treat scratches on the baby’s face by starting out with a dry skin treatment or keeping the baby’s diet in check.
- Mood Swings
Babies cannot speak; thus, they cannot express their feelings to the world. So instead, they show it through their actions by randomly flailing their arms and legs to gain their parents’ attention and tell them how sad or cranky they are. This random flailing is their coping mechanism for being upset, leading to a few minor scratches on the baby’s face.
These are some of the most random and common reasons why your baby scratches their face. Now that we have understood the psyche of the babies and the reason they scratch their faces let us look at how we can prevent all of this from happening.
How Can I Stop Baby From Scratching Face?
Dealing with baby scratches is not easy, but we have to do what needs to be done. Relax! There’s nothing hurtful we’re going to do to the baby. Below are a few clever ways you can try to handle this issue.
- Apply A Baby-Friendly Moisturizer
The first and foremost step to avoid scratches on the baby’s face is to keep the baby’s skin moisturized and nourished. Try using it twice a day to keep the skin from drying out. Avoid using harsh products. Instead, use mild soap or lotion containing gentle formulas so dry skin isn’t a problem anymore for the baby.
If their skin doesn’t get better, try getting help from a medical professional. They will guide you according to your baby’s health.
- Trim Nails
Trim your baby’s nails if they are too sharp. This can cause accidental scratches on the baby’s face when they might be crying or playing. Baby’s nails grow fast, so it’s best to keep a look out for those tiny fingers, and you may need to cut them twice a week. The best time to cut a baby’s nails is when he is sleeping soundly or breastfeeding, as, during these times, they are most calm and collected.
There are multiple objects to use for filing your baby’s nails, like an emery board and baby nail clipper. In our opinion, the best nail filing object is the baby scissors, designed specifically for babies.
- Cover Hands of The Baby
During the first few months, your baby has uncontrolled movements, which can cause minor scratches on the baby’s face. To prevent this, cover your baby’s hands with scratch mittens. These are designed especially for babies to stop scratching their faces. If you are low on budget or cannot find these, try covering your baby’s hands with socks.
It is a great hack as no extra money is spent, and your baby gets saved from their own movements. Beware! Do not forget to detach any strings or threads attached to mittens or socks so the baby doesn’t accidentally choke on them.
Another option is to keep your baby’s hands down by wrapping them up in a swaddle. This helps keep the baby’s hands to their sides. This hack is only applicable for the first few months until your baby starts rolling around. This gets dangerous afterward.
- Make Your Baby Comfortable
Keep a check on the baby and its surroundings. Make sure there is nothing that might be bothering the baby, like a hot or cold environment. These also include if the baby is upset or hungry. Babies are often demanding attention from their caregivers. When they don’t receive it, they become angry and cranky, thus scratching their face.
How Long Does It Take For A Scratch On Baby’s Face To Heal?
We can imagine what you must feel when looking at a scratch or scar on your baby’s porcelain skin. One minute you are admiring your baby’s perfect little hands and face, and the next minute, there’s a huge scar on their face! Worse, it might even be bleeding.
Stay composed because scars on the face and hands sometimes look way worse than they actually are. This is due to the good flow of blood to the face and head. Minor wounds take up to around a week or maybe less.
These do not require a bandage most of the time as the skin is not really open to any infections. A deeper scratch may take up to two weeks at most. They may even require a bandage as several layers of skin are scratched, increasing the chances of skin infections.
What Can I Put On My Baby’s Face Scratch?
Now that your baby has scratches on his/her face, it is time to deal with the situation at hand. So, below are a few suggestions to help your baby’s scratches heal faster and avoid any further scarring or inflammation.
Vaseline is an all-rounder product. This can be used by people of all ages, for various problems. Is your skin dry? Use Vaseline. Do you have chapped lips? Use Vaseline. It is a blessing in disguise. The best thing about the product is that it is easily accessible to everyone as well and most households have one for themselves all the time.
Vaseline is used for treating minor cuts as well. According to medics, scratches heal best when kept a little moist. Dry cuts slow down the healing process, scratches may turn into scabs and scars may be left on your baby’s skin.
Vaseline makes sure no bacteria enter the skin along with keeping in check that moisture stays intact. This helps the scratch to heal much faster than before.
- Ointments Designed For Baby Scratches
Unlike Vaseline, which is used for multiple reasons, these ointments are formulated specifically for use on scratches or scars on baby skin only.
As a rule of the thumb, always use a clean towel or a soft cotton swab to apply any product to the scratches on the baby’s face in order to avoid any risk of inflammation. While picking a product for use, double-check that the product is designed to prevent scabbing.
Since baby ointments for scratch marks are specially designed for gentle skin types, the medicinal formulae are also quite light on soft skin. You can choose from a handful of options and they all vary in pricing according to brand, type, and size.
- Antibacterial ointment
If you ever feel in doubt, this is another option that you can use for the delicate and sensitive skin of your baby. The main purpose of using antibacterial ointment is to avoid skin infection and bacteria growth on the scratch marks.
Some parents would confuse or mistake it for Vaseline or baby scratch marks ointment but they are different because of the ability to prevent bacterial growth. Make sure to read the ointment label very carefully because you need to be sure when and how often you need to use it.
- Use Some breast milk
Breast milk has miracles of nature that we never were aware of before. However, recently there has been a lot of research on the efficacy and benefits of breast milk and it turns out that the benefits go beyond just drinking it.
Breast milk presumably has healing attributes and may have important antibodies, so it comes with a natural topical advantage. It is also effective in eliminating infectious bacteria.
However, you are only advised to use breast milk for minor cuts or scratches. If you are a breastfeeding mother, this is something that’s a handy quick fix for you. But it is not a single solution for all types of cuts and bruises, so don’t label it as a generic homely go-to treatment.
Will Scratches On Baby’s Face Scar?
It is natural for a parent, especially mothers, to feel conscious and concerned about the overall well-being of their baby.
Naturally, if you see scars on your baby’s face, you can’t help but wonder whether they are going to turn into scars in the future? Generally this will not happen and your baby’s face scratches will heal quite well and won’t leave a scar mark at all.
But you can never be too certain and for this reason, it is best to be cautious when dealing with baby scratching his/her face.
When Should I Call The Doctor About Baby’s Face Scratch?
We understand why you may have been calling the doctor at late hours, after seeing a scratch on your newborns face. It is horrifying! It is worrisome and it sends all sorts of alarm signals in our newly parental brain. So, what should you do? When should you call the doctor?
Usually, you will not need to see the doctor and all you should do is to keep the skin appropriately moisturized. However, there are some signs that you have to watch out for. In case the scratches on your baby’s face persist for long and keep getting worse, it may be an indicator of something wrong. Below are some of the signs that indicate that it’s time to see the doctor now.
- When you’re not seeing any improvements with the OTC medications that you have been using.
- If the scratched surface on your baby’s face develops any rash or bleeds or develops blisters, it is a sign of a possible infection and you have to see a specialist.
- Red spots form on the skin.
- The baby keeps scratching his/her skin repeatedly.
- Your baby develops a fever.
- If your little one is overly irritable and evidently unlike his/her normal self.
- If your baby has been exposed to anyone having lice, herpes simplex, scabies, chickenpox, or any other infectious skin ailment.
So, Where Does That Leave Us?
Undoubtedly, nothing is more stressful than seeing your child in distress and pain. Although a few small scratches may not be a big deal, to a parent’s eyes they are most worrisome because their little one is in distress and pain.
However, as we have discussed in detail, there are simplistic reasons for these scratches, and most of the time they are nothing worrisome. There are several natural ways and over-the-counter options for treating these scratch marks.
What is most important is that you take the necessary steps to avoid such a thing from happening. Always remember that prevention pays off more and saves you all the trouble, worry, and hassle of seeking treatment afterward.
So, now that you know the whole story behind face scratches in babies, you have to stay composed when that happens. Make sure that you weigh the situation carefully and then treat the scratch or wound with due care and concern.
Do not forget to keep observing the wound and in case of any worrisome indicators of inflammation or bacterial growth, do not hesitate to call your healthcare provider for a quick consult.