A rash on your baby’s skin can throw you into a panic. Fortunately, skin rashes are normal and there’s usually nothing to worry about.
Nonetheless, there are some things you can do keep your baby’s skin healthy, moisturized and protected from the effects of rashes.
First, let’s delve into the types of skin rashes that you may notice on your baby. Each description of the skin condition is followed by treatment suggestions.
Baby acne is characterized by red pimples on baby's forehead, nose, and cheeks. Some babies may also develop acne on their back.While baby acne is a common condition, the exact causes are unknown. There has been some association between baby acne and exposure to maternal hormones while the baby is in the womb and through breastfeeding. However, this doesn’t mean you should change your breastfeeding habits.
Usually, the pimples go away on their own accord but persistent acne may require treatment. Acne may worsen if your baby is fussy. Other triggers that may cause acne to become more pronounced include rough fabrics and saliva left on the face for too long.
Some babies may develop acne at birth but this skin condition usually sets in at week two or four after birth and may last for several days or weeks. In severe cases, baby acne can linger around for months.
Dry, Flaky Or Peeling Skin
Just like adults, babies also get dry skin. In the first few weeks following their birth, you may notice a lot of changes to your baby's skin. Flaking and peeling around the ankles, feet, hands, and face is especially common among newborns.
When a baby is born, she is covered in fluids including a thick coating known as vernix. The vernix goes away a few days after birth, causing your baby’s skin to shed within the first three weeks.
Factors such as whether your baby was delivered on time will affect the amount of skin peeling. Also, if your baby was covered in a lot of vernix at birth, she probably will not peel as much.
Premature babies are usually covered in more vernix and will typically peel less than babies delivered on time.
All in all, almost all babies peel and have dry, flaky skin and this is not something to worry about. There are some things you can do, however, to minimize peeling and to keep your baby’s skin moist.
Milia is a common occurrence in newborns but anyone can get this temporary skin condition. The most common milia symptom is small pimples on the baby’s cheeks, chin, and nose.
It is possible for these bumps to appear on the hands, legs, and upper trunk. When the white bumps appear on the roof of baby’s mouth or gum, the condition is known as Epstein pearls. Sometimes, milia may occur alongside acne.
Up to 50 percent of newborns get milia a few days after birth and although the tiny white bumps may look unsightly, they are completely harmless.
Milia usually resolve in about two to three weeks. In most cases, no treatment is necessary.
The tiny white bumps result from dead skin clogging the upper layer of your baby’s skin. The bumps gradually disappear as the dead skin sloughs off.
Although milia and acne can develop at the same time, this doesn’t mean your child will grow up to have acne. Factors such as genetics and environmental stimuli play a big role in predicting who will get acne.
Like most baby rashes, milia usually clear up on their own. You just need to give it a couple of weeks or at most a month or two.
Cradle cap appears as a dandruff-like, flaky, thick, yellowish or brown crust on the baby’s scalp. Also known as infantile seborrheic dermatitis, cradle cap may seem scary but it is very common among newborns.
While some children may have cradle cap for a little longer, in most children it clears out within 6 months to a year.
Although this condition typically affects the scalp, it can also appear around the eyebrows, eyelids, ears, and armpits.
The true causes of cradle cap are unknown. A common myth is that the crusty scalp is due to poor hygiene but this is just that—a myth.
Some studies have shown that cradle cap results from baby’s oil glands being overstimulated by maternal hormones released at the end of a pregnancy. Other experts say yeast that grows in the sebum could be responsible for causing irritation that results in cradle cap.
Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema is a type of skin rash that typically affects children aged 5 years and below but this skin condition can indeed affect anyone.
In babies, eczema appears on the scalp and cheeks but it may also affect the upper trunk, chest, legs, arms and hidden creases.This condition affects up to 20 percent of babies with as many as 65 percent developing eczema in the first 12 months of life.
Eczema may appear like a thick, dry and scaly rash but it may also manifest as small red weepy bumps that become aggravated by scratching.This skin condition is not contagious but the intense itching can be painful and uncomfortable especially for a child.
Like other skin rashes, the exact causes of eczema are unknown but some studies show that genetics plays a significant role.
Environmental allergens such as dander, pollen, fragrances, lotions, detergents, cigarette smoke and hay can trigger a flare-up. Other common irritants include dry skin, changing temperatures, heat and food allergens.
Certain food allergens may trigger or aggravate eczema. Dairy products, fish, peanuts, soy and gluten products are common allergenic foods. If you are breastfeeding you may try to eliminate these foods from your diet one at a time to see whether food is a culprit.
Your pediatric dermatologist may recommend a mild topical steroid or a stronger variety if the eczema is particularly stubborn.
Prickly heat, also known as heat rash, results from sweat being trapped under the skin. Due to their developing sweat glands, babies are more prone to developing prickly heat.
Prickly heat symptoms include red itchy bumps mostly around the chest, neck, and shoulders. Hidden areas such as the groin and where clothes frequently rub against the skin are also prone to heat rash.
Prickly heat may cause your baby to become fussy but the itchy rash will usually go away on its own.
If your baby develops small red bumps on their skin, check to see if they have too many clothes on and whether they are dressed suitably for the weather.
Once you cool your baby’s skin the heat rash will begin to subside.
Diaper rash appears as irritated red spots that may feel warm to the touch. Diaper rash may be mild and affect only a small area but sometimes it can spread to the thighs and upper trunk.
Diaper rash is pretty common in the first year of a child's life with some usual causes including:
A mixture of stool and urine can expose your child’s skin to excessive moisture and ammonia which can irritate the skin. Leaving your baby in a wet diaper for too long predisposes them to diaper rash.
Even if you change your child's diaper regularly, it is possible for them to develop diaper rash from sensitivity to chemicals in the diaper. Also, products such as baby powders or lotions used during diaper changes may irritate the skin.
New foods cause changes in the baby's stool and the excreted acids may not be favorable to baby’s sensitive skin.
Diapers create a moist and warm environment that is conducive to bacteria and yeast, which can cause a rash.
Medicines such antibiotics may kill healthy bacteria, increasing your baby’s risk of a yeast infection or diarrhea, which can cause diaper rash.
When To Consult a Doctor
Many of these common skin rashes will resolve on their own a few weeks or months after their onset. However, you should see a doctor if the rash comes with the following symptoms:
- Lack of appetite
- Coughing and sneezing
Skin rashes are easily manageable and only require simple home treatments. But, if you are worried about a skin rash on your baby, a doctor can recommend effective treatments that will help relieve the rash and any accompanying symptoms.