The skin of a newborn baby is very sensitive and prone to a host of rashes and skin conditions. Considering the fact that everything that comes into contact with a newborn baby’s skin is completely new and has never before been experienced by the newborn, it is little wonder that skin rashes are so common. While these rashes and skin conditions may be cause for worry for a new parent, they are most often harmless and short-lived, and many of them cause the baby very little pain or discomfort. Here is a look at the most common skin conditions in newborns:
Milia are tiny while spots that are most often found on a newborns face, and sometimes the gums. They may look like teeny whiteheads, and are often most noticeable on the newborn’s nose. Milia are harmless and usually disappear by the time that the baby is a few weeks old. The presence of milia on the newborn skin is thought to be caused by underdeveloped sebaceous glands. There is no treatment required for milia.
Baby acne, or newborn acne, occurs in about 20% of newborn infants, with boys being more likely to develop newborn acne than baby girls. Baby acne usually appears at around 4 weeks of age and is thought to be caused by maternal hormones that the baby absorbed in the womb at the end of gestation. Baby acne is most commonly seen on an infant’s cheeks, chin and forehead, and while it may not be pretty, it is no cause for concern.
Baby acne should be treated by very gently washing the affected area once or twice a day with warm water. Parents should be patient. Baby acne disappears on its own by the time an infant is 4 months old. The use of creams, lotions and soaps is discouraged when treating newborn acne, since these things may make the condition worse, as can scrubbing the skin and touching the affected area excessively.
As scary as the name looks, erythematic toxicum is a very common, totally benign newborn skin condition. Erythema toxicum usually presents within a few days after a baby’s birth and is generally gone within a couple of weeks. This skin condition causes red splotches that can be seen on the body, face, arms and legs of the newborn. The splotches are transient, meaning they appear quickly and disappear quickly, with more red splotches often replacing those that have disappeared.
Sometimes these red splotches have white or yellow bumps in the center, or bumps that may appear to be fluid-filled. These bumps and splotches do not cause the newborn any pain, and because the condition disappears on its own, no treatment is needed.
Petechiae are tiny red dots that can appear on the skin of newborns and in the whites of their eyes. Petechiae are caused by the pressure of being pushed through the birth canal, and they are tiny bits of blood that have gathered at the surface of the skin as a result of that pressure. Petechiae do not hurt, and they will disappear when the baby is a week or two old.
Cradle cap is crusty, scaly, flaky skin that builds up on a newborn’s head as a result of the sloughing off of oily, dead skin cells. Cradle cap is very common and can be treated easily by loosening the crusty area with olive oil or mineral oil and a baby comb, and by shampooing. Shampooing of the hair too frequently may dry the scalp area more, making the condition worse, so do not overdo the shampooing, and use a mild shampoo specifically made for babies.
As you can see, there are many skin conditions that can plague a newborn and his or her parents, but very few of them require any special treatment. Some are unsightly, but none not cause for worry, and all respond well to a treatment called time, which means that they will go away as the newborn grows older. Some say that time is a four-letter word, but in the case of newborn skin conditions, time is usually the best treatment.
“Newborn Rashes and Skin Conditions,” PeaceHealth.org.