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Question 2: Are natural plant oils the best topical agents to use on baby skin?
  1. David Richard Thaxter1,
  2. Anna Kilonback2
  1. 1 Department of Paediatrics, Kingston Hospital, Kingston upon Thames, UK
  2. 2 Department of Paediatrics, Epsom General Hospital, Epsom, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr David Richard Thaxter, South London Deanery, 8 Hill Court, Deer Park Close, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, KT2 7TN, UK; david.thaxter{at}

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While completing a baby check on a healthy 2-day-old, a parent asks you about some areas of dry, cracked and flaky skin they have noticed on their infant. They have heard that natural plant oils are the best remedy and would like to know your opinion.

Structured clinical question

In healthy neonates with dry skin (population), does topical application of natural plant oils (intervention) or synthetic emollients (comparison) lead to the best dermatological results (outcome)?


We searched PubMed on 13 May 2017 using the following search criteria: (neonat* OR baby) AND skin AND (natural OR plant) oil* AND emollient*. Of 26 results, 14 were randomised controlled trials (RCTs). For the purposes of our review. we defined emollients as synthetic or commercial products used to moisturise skin. Selecting only studies that compared natural plant oils with emollients or other natural plant oils and focused on dermatological rather than clinical outcomes led to the inclusion of three trials. Notably, the Cochrane review Cleminson and McGuire 2016 analysed the incidence of invasive infection and mortality in …

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  • Contributors AK: conception or design of the work. AK: literature search. DRT, AK: analysis and interpretation. DRT, AK: drafting the article. DRT: critical revision of the article: DRT, AK: final approval of the version to be published.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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