Prof Hlela is one of two paediatric dermatologists in the country, championing as a leading specialist in baby and child skin care. Her mission is to reduce skin conditions in babies and children and become the voice in paediatric dermatology in Africa.
Prof Hlela is passionate about educating patients, medical professionals and medical corporations about innovative and simple skin solutions, through her research and campaigns.
Part of her journey was her collaboration with South Africa’s baby skincare giant, Johnson & Johnson. Johnson and Johnson consulted Prof Hlela for her services as a skin science expert, for their new venture on preventing and reducing the risk of skin infections in babies. This partnership affirmed her exceptional reputation in this field and placed her as the country’s most sought after paediatric dermatologist.
Prof Hlela, a sought after speaker nationally has presented papers at various national and international conferences. She is widely published; authored a book and has contributed book chapters. She has sat (still sits) at various advisory boards, (including the Infant Skin Care Guidelines Development Board) and is the Africa Representative for the International2 Retrovirology Association (IRVA) Board. She actively participates in various community
outreach projects, including community education and regularly, contributes articles on baby skincare in various magazine and newspapers.
Her clinical research career is ongoing, including being part of national and international research collaborations, conducting various clinical research drug trials. Research, and the power it gives, remains Prof Hlela’s passion.
Q&A with Prof Hlela
What is the number one concern new parents have when they bring their baby in for the six-week check-up?
This is the time mothers will have just witnessed those physiological but transient skin conditions that we see at this stage of life because the skin at this stage is severely underdeveloped. An example is miliaria (heat rash) and milia (neonatal acne).
How do you know if your newborn’s skin is healthy?
When your newborn’s skin is intact, supple (nicely moisturised), not dry and has no rashes (there may still be a colourful birthmark in healthy skin). It must be said that healthy skin is a good safekeeping measure towards overall baby health. If it is not healthy, pathogens and other elements can come through, which have the potential to compromise the baby’s overall health.
Why is it so important to take care of your baby’s skin from birth?
At birth, baby skin is underdeveloped and cannot perform its protective barrier function adequately. Due to this fact, baby skin is highly susceptible to infections and damage during the early years of life. By taking care of your baby’s skin early on you are mitigating and preventing the risk of your child developing infections and other conditions such as atopic eczema and allergies which, the literature indicates, are linked to skin barrier defects. So, taking care of baby skin from birth is a protective measure that has the potential to influence the baby’s overall health.
What are the most prominent paediatric skin conditions you see in South Africa?
Many conditions, from excessively dry skin from the use of incorrect products to eczema and severe skin infections – some that may even be fatal.
What is a healthy skin practice parents can adopt for their children?
1. Be careful what you wash your baby’s skin with. To the best of your ability, use products that have been specially formulated for baby’s skin.
2. Moisturise skin regularly even when there are no visible issues with your baby’s skin.
3. Protect your baby from the sun.
4. When there is a visible skin problem, do not sit at home, thinking it is just going to going away on its own, it may not. Instead, run it past a healthcare professional and get assured it is nothing to worry about
To book a consultation with Prof Hlela, contact Ingress Healthcare on 064 940 5110.