London: The modern-day bath oils and lotions are not good for a child`s skin-as they are apparently a reason for the increase in the number of newborns having eczema.
Eczema earlier affected four per cent of newborns, but now the figure is around 25 per cent.
New research by a leading expert has indicated that using these modern products on babies` skin during the first few weeks of life might be to blame for much of this increase.
Richard Cork of the Sheffield University said there appears to be a six-week ``window`` after a baby is born.
During this period, babies with a genetic predisposition to eczema, caused by a hereditary gene defect, can have their immune system made more sensitive, and this makes them more likely to develop eczema.
"These babies are born with a defective skin barrier, which means that their skin can be sensitised - made prone to an allergic reaction - much more easily if the "wrong" treatments are used," the Daily Mail quoted Cork as saying.
"The outer layer of the skin, called the stratum corneum, provides a barrier which normally prevents the penetration of irritants and allergens.
``But in babies who are predisposed to atopic eczema, this does not work as effectively, allowing loss of water from the corneocytes (cells in the skin), which shrink and allow cracks to open between them, so irritants and allergens can penetrate, leading to lesions from eczema.
"The use of soap on the skin leads to a further deterioration of the barrier, because it breaks down the cells which are still forming in babies` skin," he said.
Even so-called baby products can contain detergents too harsh for these at-risk children, said Cork.
Worse still, he said the very creams prescribed by doctors to treat the eczema might actually be making things worse.
Indeed, he believes one particular treatment - aqueous cream - is ``extremely damaging`` to the skin.
Another substance commonly applied to babies` skin is olive oil - but Cork said this is also unsuitable as it has a very poor balance of oleic and linoleic oil, which is damaging to skin before it develops properly.
Margaret Cox of the National Eczema Society, said: "There needs to be more awareness of the best way to care for babies` skin in the first six months after they`re born, and more education for parents in picking up the early signs of eczema."