The neonatal skin must be given careful consideration for several reasons:
- It is a protective organ, especially when covered with vernix.
- Any break in integrity creates an opportunity for infection; therefore, minimize skin trauma.
- Absorption of agents through the skin, especially in premature infants, may have harmful effects (e.g., hexachlorophene, Betadine™, boric acid, etc.)
- The skin may be used therapeutically (e.g., application of safflower oil for essential fatty acid deficiency).
Neonatal skin may present a bewildering variety of lesions; some innocent, temporary and the result of a physiologic response; others the result of an episodic disease; and still others indicative of a serious, often fatal, underlying disorder.
Dermatologic manifestations of infection are presented in Chapter 2, Perinatal Infection.
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