- more than 2 million sweat pores that eliminate wastes
- 2,000 glands per square inch which secrete oil, vital to our skins resilience
- elasticity and resistance to infection
- fifteen feet of blood vessels per square inch, making it a thermostatic miracle
- some 5 million sensory cells, that give feeling, depth and substance to the world around us;
- and it stores water, sugar, calcium and aids the production of Vitamin D.
As an extension of the nervous system, our skin reveals our deepest emotions when it tingles with excitement, blushes with embarrassment, turns livid with anger, white with fear and so on. Equally effective are the symptoms or signs that the skin exhibits as indications of well-being, illness or infection: from the hot brow, cold sweats, rashes and eruptions, the pallor's and shivers that reveal illness, to the glowing complexion of good health.
As our body's largest visible source of sensory perception, the skin provides a principal means of communication. A unique protective cover that provides moment to moment intelligence on the hospitality of our body's immediate external and internal environment. This exposed sphere of our central nervous system perceives heat cold and tactile impressions and illuminates emotional and physiological changes that take place within the body. As a barrier against invasion by micro organisms your baby's skin acts as the first line of defense against surface injury and contains a reservoir of defensive elements capable of combating infection and healing deep disruptions.
What to Use and What to Avoid
The baby's skin is finer, with far more sensory receptors than that of an adult, and the openings of the sweat and sebaceous glands and hair follicles render a baby's skin porous and capable of absorption. Consequently only the purest products with the most subtle aromas are appropriate. Soft cotton clothing is the most agreeable texture against a fine skin, in preference to synthetic fabrics like nylon which prevents the "skin from 'breathing' or wool, which can be abrasive. As a general guide to substances used on your baby's skin, organic is best. Products derived from living structures like plants and vegetables that are easily assimilated within the body, rather than those that are mineral based, should be used.
Most commercial baby oils are mineral oils, and as derivatives of crude petroleum they contain no organic food value. Because they are not readily absorbed into the body, oils like this tend to lie on top of the skin and block its pores; this can prevent the skin from breathing, and inhibit the secretions of the glands that keep the skin waterproof and resilient. Consequently mineral oils tend to dry the baby's skin. In contrast a pure vegetable or fruit oil is readily absorbed and may contain properties that are beneficial.
Talcum powder is also of a mineral base and does not absorb readily into the body. In the 1980s the government of Puerto Rico banned talc in the manufacture of rice because of a suspected link with stomach cancer. Research conducted at the same time also suggested that this product caused tumours when dusted on broken or abraded skin.
Dr Jerome Z. Litt, Your Skin and How to Live in It
Not widely available in the UK (although it is in the United States), a medicated cornstarch or maize based powder is a good organic alternative to highly perfumed talcum powders or calendula powder, which may also contain a talcum powder base.