6 Common Newborn Rashes: What They Are & Home Remedies To Try

Newborn Rashes

Medical Content Reviewed & Edited by Rashmi Jain, MD

It can be concerning for a new parent when their baby develops new marks on their skin. However, babies come with very sensitive skin that gets easily irritated. Most often, any redness, flaking, or bumps you see on your child’s skin can be easily managed or will even go away on its own given time. Below, we describe some of the more common skin rashes in babies that can help you determine what is happening on your baby’s skin, what you can do about it at home, and when you might need to consult your physician. 

Baby Acne

Newborn Rashes 1

About 20% of newborns experience baby acne and is certainly one of the most common newborn rashes. It appears as small red or white bumps on your baby’s face, usually on their cheeks, nose, and forehead. Baby acne will often develop within the first 2-4 weeks after birth and clear up on its own in a few months, without scarring. There are different reasons baby acne can occur. Sometimes it’s due to a baby’s oil glands producing too much oil early in life or at times it can be due to oil production being stimulated by maternal or infant hormones.

Baby acne is different from infantile acne that will appear a little later in infancy, around 3-6 months of age. Infantile acne will have blackheads, cysts, or nodules. This version of acne can last through the first few years of life and can sometimes leave scars if left untreated. Thankfully, it is much less common newborn rashes than baby acne.

Home Remedies For Baby Acne

Over the counter acne treatments, face washes, or lotions are much too harsh for your baby’s sensitive skin. There are a few treatments you can try at home:

Keep your baby’s face clean

Keep your baby’s face clean by washing it with warm water. If you want to use soap, make sure it is mild and fragrance-free.

Avoid lotions or scented soaps

Avoid lotions or scented soaps that could aggravate your baby’s skin.

Wash and dry their skin gently

Avoid scrubbing your baby’s skin. Instead, move a soft warm wet washcloth in gentle circular motions, and pat their skin dry.

Take a deep breath…

The best thing you can do is leave your baby’s acne alone. Baby acne typically will not irritate your baby and will quickly resolve on its own.

See your Pediatrician if baby acne persists for months instead of weeks and the above-mentioned Home Remedies for Baby Acne do not work. Your doctor may prescribe a medicated cream or ointment to help clear it up.

Milia in newborn

Newborn Rashes 2

Often confused for baby acne, milia occurs in 40% of newborn babies. They are often born with it, while baby acne usually takes a few weeks to develop. Milia is made up of small white bumps or cysts that typically appear on your baby’s nose or cheeks. It’s caused by dead skin cells that are caught in tiny pockets of skin.

There is nothing you can do to prevent your baby from having milia and it normally disappears within a few weeks. It generally will not irritate your baby or require treatment. Consult your doctor if your baby’s skin does not clear up by a few months of age.

Cradle Cap in Newborns

Newborn Rashes 3

Cradle cap shows up as crusty or oily, white or yellow scaly patches on your baby’s scalp that aren’t easy to remove. It develops between 2 weeks and 12 months of age. It shouldn’t be painful or itchy and often clears up on its own within a few weeks.

Home Remedies for Cradle Cap

Cradle cap is easy to treat at home. Here are some simple things to try:

Regularly wash

Regularly wash your baby’s hair with a mild baby shampoo.

Gently remove the scales

Gently remove the scales with a soft brush or washcloth.

Apply a small amount of oil

Apply a small amount of oil (baby oil, olive oil or mineral oil work great) or petroleum jelly (Vaseline) to the affected areas of your baby’s scalp. Let the oil soak for about ½ an hour before shampooing your baby’s hair. Then use a soft brush to remove the scales that have been softened by the oil & shampoo treatment. 

Consult your doctor if you do not see any improvement after trying these Home Remedies for Cradle Cap for several weeks. Your Pediatrician may prescribe a mild steroid cream or antifungal shampoo. Similar scales can also appear on your baby’s ears, eyelids, nose, and diaper area. Your doctor may recommend steroid or antifungal creams for these scales as well, particularly if they appear in skin folds or the diaper area where they could get infected. Also talk to your doctor if the rash looks red, starts to drain fluid, or feels warm. 

Newborn Heat rash

Newborn Rashes 4

Newborn Heat Rash occurs when sweat clogs babie’s pores so the skin gets red and tiny pimple-like bumps form. Babies aren’t very mobile and have immature sweat glands and lots of fat rolls, so these rashes will occur in their neck creases, armpits, elbow creases, and groin. These rashes should resolve in a few days once sweat glands begin flowing again.

Home Remedies For Newborn Heat Rash

There are a few ways to prevent heat rashes in babies:

Cool them down

Move them to areas with air conditioning or a fan.

Remove extra layers

Remove extra layers of clothing to leave the skin open to air if possible.

Put them in cotton clothing

Put them in cotton clothing that allows the skin to breathe better. Tight synthetic fabrics may not allow sweat to dissipate.

Avoid thick lotions

Avoid thick lotions, creams or ointments that might block sweat glands.

Use cool, damp washcloths

Use cool, damp washcloths to clean excess sweat & moisture and cool their skin down.

Wash areas

Wash areas that are always damp/soiled, like the neck or diaper regions.

Consult your doctor if the rash has not cleared up within a week or if your child develops a fever with the rash. Your doctor may prescribe a steroid cream or an antihistamine to resolve the issue. Home Remedies for Newborn Rash are usually highly effective and with patience, should show good results.

Baby Drool rash

Newborn Rashes 5

Your baby’s salivary glands begin to produce saliva around 2-3 months of age, about the same time they begin to coo, smile & respond to you. (That’s why they manage to drench that burp rag as they’re looking so cute.) They usually aren’t teething yet at this time, however. Drooling is exacerbated by your baby’s limited ability to swallow as fast as they’re producing the saliva, the absence of front teeth to hold the saliva in their mouth, and the fact that they keep their mouth open as they’re developing those social skills. The constant presence of saliva on your baby’s chin, neck, and chest can lead to red, irritated, chapped skin known as a baby drool rash. Pacifiers can also trap the moisture of the saliva or smeared food next to the skin causing exacerbation of drool rashes.

Drooling often stops around 15 to 18 months of age as their teeth are present to hold saliva in their mouths and they begin to close their mouths more regularly. In the meantime, there are several ways to try and prevent a baby drool rash. Focus on keeping your baby’s skin clean and dry:

Home Remedies for Baby Drool Rash

Have a soft burp rag

Have a soft burp rag or washcloth on hand at all times.

Gently but regularly wipe

Gently but regularly wipe the drool, milk or food from your baby’s face and the creases of their neck, especially right after they’ve had a bottle or meal.

Use a bib

Use a bib so your baby’s saliva doesn’t make their shirt wet. Change bibs frequently so the moisture doesn’t soak into their shirt and create a rash on their chest.

Apply barrier ointments

Apply barrier ointments like Petroleum Jelly (Vaseline) or Aquaphor to protect your baby’s skin from getting irritated by drool.

Avoid soaps & detergents

Avoid soaps & detergents with fragrances/dyes that can further irritate your baby’s skin. Though it’s helpful to apply ointment as a barrier, you might avoid using thick lotion that might further moisten your baby’s skin and contribute to chafing.

If your baby is teething

If your baby is teething, offer a cold teething ring or washcloth with which your baby might comfort their gums.  

Consistent application of these home remedies for baby drool rash will usually yield good results. Consult your pediatrician if:

  • The rash is looking red, tender, cracked, or is oozing.
  • You’ve been trying to treat it for a few days, but it just won’t go away.

Newborn eczema

Common Newborn Rashes

Newborn Eczema appears as skin that is red, rough, dry, and sometimes flaky. It will flare during the dry cold of winter and the sweaty heat of summer. In infants, it often appears on their cheeks and face due to drooling, left behind smears of food and milk, and constant wiping

Causes of Newborn Eczema

Certain triggers can cause flares in eczema:

Certain foods

Certain foods, especially peanuts, milk, soy, eggs, wheat, and fish can trigger eczema. If an infant is breastfeeding, the mother may need to change her diet to accommodate.

Seasonal allergies.

In fact, allergies, asthma, and newborn eczema can all be triggered by exposure to allergens.

Bubble baths and bath bombs

Bubble baths and bath bombs can cause the skin to react to the chemicals in their dyes and fragrances.

Chlorine in pools or hot water

Chlorine in pools or hot water in hot tubs can also affect sensitive skin. It’s best to bathe immediately after swimming to reduce these effects on newborn eczema.

Synthetic or harsh fabrics

Synthetic or harsh fabrics directly against the skin can cause irritation if your baby has eczema. Soothing, soft cotton is always best next to a baby’s sensitive skin.

Home Remedies for Newborn Eczema

There are several home remedies you can try to help keep your baby’s eczema at bay:

Bathe your child every day

Bathe your child every day for no more than 10 minutes to help their skin absorb the moisture it needs.

Use a hypoallergenic moisturizing soap

Use a hypoallergenic moisturizing soap like Dove, Cetaphil or Aveeno to bathe your child.

Pat your baby’s skin dry

Pat your baby’s skin dry after a bath instead of rubbing it forcefully dry.

Trap moisture in place immediately

Trap moisture in place immediately with a hypoallergenic and fragrance free lotion (examples are Eucerin, Aveeno, Aquaphor) within 2-3 minutes of getting them out of the bath.

Apply 1% Hydrocortisone

Apply 1% Hydrocortisone, an over-the-counter cream to areas of newborn eczema flares twice a day for 7 to 10 days underneath a layer of lotion to reduce itching and redness.

If these treatments are not effective after one to two weeks, consult your pediatrician about a prescription for a stronger steroid cream, an oral antihistamine, moist wraps, or other management options. A physician may sometimes recommend diluted bleach baths one to two times a week to reduce bacteria on your baby’s skin that cause infection in dry and irritated areas. Also, consult your physician if newborn eczema is so uncomfortable that it’s affecting their sleep or daily activities, or they develop any of these symptoms:

  • A fever of >100.4° Fahrenheit
  • The rash on their skin starts to look puffy, red, warm, or painful to the touch
  • The rash starts spreading in streaks
  • You notice pus draining from bumps

Common newborn rashes: Conclusion

Your baby’s skin can react to their environment differently than yours in many ways and for a number of reasons, but most times this is not a major cause for concern. Through careful attention and treatment, these common infant rashes will usually clear up in days to a few weeks. For questions, concerns, or even just reassurance, don’t hesitate to make an appointment to see one of our BabiesMD Pediatricians.

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