Babies have extremely tender skin and hence deserve to be treated with extra care. Talcum powder has been used for many decades to keep babies comfortable. After a nappy change, caregivers dust the baby with powder to keep the baby dry and comfortable and to prevent nappy rash. There is a special range of powders that have hypoallergenic ingredients and mild fragrances specially formulated for babies.
There have been a number of medical research papers on the link between talcum powder and some forms of cancer. This has given rise to a number of concerns about the safety of using talcum powder on the tender skin of babies.
With increasing awareness of the ill effects of the ingredients in talcum, powder parents are concerned about the suitability of talcum powder versus substitute for babies.
Difference Between Talcum Powder and Baby Powder
Talcum powder is made from a mineral rock called talc, which is pounded, powdered, and milled to a superfine texture. Fragrances and chemicals like magnesium silicates are added before this powder is sold as talcum powder. The disadvantage of talcum powder is that the powder contains particles of the base mineral, which is harmful when inhaled. There has been a pronounced link between the use of talc used for feminine hygiene and ovarian cancer. There have many cases wherein babies have accidentally inhaled talcum powder and have had respiratory problems.
Baby powder is made out of corn starch, to which mild antiseptics are added. Corn starch is equally effective in keeping babies dry and comfortable besides being safe. Baby powders contain mild natural fragrances and additives like chamomile, basil, and calendula which are natural antiseptics. The fragrance adds freshness.
Why Do Doctors Advise Against Using Talcum Powder for Babies
The main objection to using talc on babies is that particles of talc may travel through open sores into the baby’s bloodstream. When used in the genital area, there is a possibility that the particles may travel through the bloodstream. There is a link, still being researched, between talc particles and ovarian cancer.
Talcum powder should be kept away from babies. Babies often may upset the talc container and inhale the talc. Respiratory problems have been reported due to the inhalation of talc powder.
The fragrances and additives used in talcum powder may trigger allergic reactions in babies who may be sensitive to such external factors.
Pediatricians advise the use of ointments and chemical-free baby powders to prevent dampness and infections after bath and nappy changes. Homeopathy advocates the use of natural antiseptics like calendula and chamomile added to arrowroot or cornflour to prevent skin infections in babies.