Journal Article

Newborn skin cleansing practices and their rationales: A systematic review of the literature


Aims: To systematically review literature investigating parents’ and carers’ newborn skin cleansing practices in order to describe these practices and their underlying rationales. Design: A systematic literature review Data sources: CINAHL, Medline, BND and PubMed databases were searched in February 2020. Primary research articles written in English and relevant to the topic were included regardless of country of publication. Review Methods: Primary research papers published between 2009 and 2020 were reviewed using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool. Relevant results from retrieved studies were extracted and tabulated. Qualitative data were analysed using the first two steps of Thomas and Harden’s (2008) method of thematic analysis.A basic meta-integration process similar to that proposed by Frantzen and Fetters (2015) was performed and the limited quantitative findings were reported within the relevant qualitative theme. Results: Seven studies were included and the following themes generated: bathing after birth, frequency of cleansing, substances used for bathing/cleansing, vernix removal and beliefs and culture. A wide range of newborn skin cleansing practices exist across the countries and cultures studied, and the rationales for these practices are deeply rooted in common belief systems and culture of the study area. Conclusion: Cultural influences appear to drive parental practice, and many parents are unwilling to break away from these. In addition to further research into safe and effective newborn skin cleansing methods, there is a call for new, large scale, research which addresses gaps in current knowledge about the skin cleansing practices of different groups of parents with newborn babies. This research would also seek to determine how these practices might be influenced if they are shown not to be optimal, and guide planning effective dissemination of evidence-based information.

Attached files


Fleming, Sarah
Hunter, Louise

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Nursing


Year of publication: 2021
Date of RADAR deposit: 2021-05-12

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License


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