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Newborn Rashes and Skin Conditions - Topic Overview

What are the most common skin conditions in newborns?

It's very common for newborns to have rashes or other skin problems. Some of them have long names that are hard to say and sound scary. But most will go away on their own in a few days or weeks.

Here are some of the things you may notice about your baby's skin.

  • It looks like pimples.
    • Babies often get pimples on their cheeks, noses, and foreheads. This baby acne may show up during the first few weeks of life and usually clears up on its own within a few months. Baby acne has nothing to do with whether your child will have acne problems as a teenager.
    • Tiny white spots very often appear on a newborn's face during the first week. The spots are called milia (say "MIL-ee-uh"). Sometimes white spots appear on the gums and the roof of the mouth (palate), where they are called Epstein pearls. The white spots go away by themselves in a few weeks and aren't harmful.
  • The baby's skin looks blotchy.
    • During the first day or two of life, many babies get harmless red blotches with tiny bumps that sometimes contain pus. This is called erythema toxicum (say "air-uh-THEE-mah TOK-sik-um"). It may appear on only part of the body or on most of the body. The blotchy areas may come and go, but they will usually go away on their own within a week.
    • A rash called pustular melanosis (say "PUS-chuh-ler mel-uh-NOH-sis") is common among black infants. The rash is harmless and doesn't need treatment. It causes pus-filled pimples that may break open and form dark spots surrounded by loose skin. Babies are born with it, and it usually goes away after the first few days of life. Sometimes dark spots may last for a few weeks or months.
    • When cold, your newborn may get a blotchy, lacy rash (mottling) on the limbs and torso. Remove your baby from the cold source, and the rash will usually go away. Mottling usually doesn't occur past 6 months of age.
  • The baby has a rash.
    • Babies can get heat rash camera.gif, sometimes called prickly heat, when they are dressed too warmly or when the weather is very hot. This is a red or pink rash usually found on the body areas covered by clothing. It often itches and makes your baby uncomfortable. Doctors call this rash miliaria (say "mil-ee-AIR-ee-uh"). To help the rash go away, remove your baby from the warm setting. Dress your child in light, loose clothing and give him or her a cool bath. For more information, see the topic Heat Rash.
    • Diaper rash is red and sore skin on a baby's bottom or genitals that is caused by wearing a wet diaper for a long time. Urine and stool can irritate the skin. Diaper rash can happen when babies sleep for many hours without waking. Sometimes an infection from bacteria or yeast can cause a diaper rash. If your baby has diaper rash, take extra care to keep him or her as dry as possible. For more information, see the topic Diaper Rash.
    • Many babies have a rash off and on around the mouth or on the chin. It's caused by drooling and spitting up. Clean your baby's face often, especially after he or she eats or spits up. For more information, see the topic Spitting Up.
  • The baby sometimes has tiny red dots on the skin.
    • You may notice tiny red dots on your newborn's skin. These red dots are called petechiae (say "puh-TEE-kee-eye"). These are specks of blood that have leaked into the skin. They are caused by the trauma of being squeezed through the birth canal. They will disappear within the first week or two.
  • The baby's scalp is scaly.
    • Many babies get what is called cradle cap camera.gif. This scaly or crusty skin on the top of the baby's head is a normal buildup of sticky skin oils, scales, and dead skin cells. Unlike some other rashes, cradle cap can be treated at home with shampoo or mineral oil. Cradle cap usually goes away by age 1 year. For more information, see the topic Cradle Cap.
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