Sterile water moisturizer of the skin of extremely low birth weight infants

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of neonatal-perinatal medicine




Bilirubin; IVH; extremely low birth weight infants; fluid requirement; skin water wash


OBJECTIVE: To assess the feasibility of sterile water application to the skin of the extremely low birth weight (ELBW) newborns in the first week of life and examine its effects on their skin integrity and outcomes. DESIGN: Pilot randomized controlled trial. SETTING: Open-bay, 18 bed Level III NICU in the Eastern United States. PARTICIPANTS: Twenty-eight ELBW neonates. Two newborns expired, sixteen newborns remained in the intervention group and twelve newborns in the control group. METHODS: ELBW neonates were either assigned to receive frequent sterile water wash to skin or not during care for the first week of life. Using the Neonatal Skin Condition Scale (NSCS), assessments were performed twice a day during the first week. Fluid intake, serum electrolytes, culture proven sepsis and other morbidities, and length of stay (LOS) were compared while controlling for confounding variables using multiple regression analysis. RESULTS: There was no difference in the demographic or clinical characteristics between both groups. Sterile water wash application to skin was not associated with differences in skin health indices or fluid intake. However, it was associated with higher median sodium level and with early regression of bilirubin level when compared to controls. CONCLUSION: Frequent skin washes with sterile water are feasible and safe. However, they may not be associated with improved skin integrity or fluid intake.


Obstetrics and Gynecology