Newborn baby sleeping on fluffy blanket
1 / 20

Expect Bumps, Spots, and Rashes

There's nothing quite like the soft, delicate skin of a baby. And nothing like a cranky infant irritated by diaper rash, cradle cap, or another skin condition. While your baby is perfect, your baby's skin may not be. Many babies are prone to skin irritation in the first few months after birth. Here's how to spot and treat common baby skin problems.

Swipe to advance
Father changing diaper on baby girl
2 / 20

Newborns Are Prone to Rashes

The good news about your newborn's rashes: Most cause no harm and go away on their own. While caring for baby's skin may seem complex, all you really need to know are three simple things: Which conditions can you treat at home? Which need medical treatment? And how can you prevent baby from experiencing skin problems to begin with?

Swipe to advance
Close-up of infant with diaper rash
3 / 20

Avoiding Diaper Rash

If baby has red skin around the diaper area, you're dealing with diaper rash. Most diaper rashes occur because of skin irritation due to diapers that are too tight; wet diapers left on for too long; or a particular brand of detergent, diapers, or baby wipes. Avoid it by keeping the diaper area open to the air as long as possible, changing your baby's diaper as soon as it's wet, washing with a warm cloth, and applying zinc oxide cream.

Swipe to advance
Close-up of acne on infant's cheek
4 / 20

Pimples & Whiteheads

Baby "acne" is not really acne, like the kind teenagers get. In fact, recent research suggests that it may be related to yeast, not oil production. Pimples on baby's nose and cheeks usually clear up by themselves in a few weeks. So you don't need to treat baby acne or use lotion.

Swipe to advance
Close-up of cafe-au-lait spot on infant
5 / 20

Baby Birthmarks

Lots of babies have birthmarks -- more than one in ten as a matter of fact. Birthmarks, areas of skin discoloration, are not inherited. They may be there when your baby is born, or they might show up a few months later. Generally birthmarks are nothing to worry about and need no treatment. But if your baby's birthmark worries you, talk to your pediatrician.

Swipe to advance
eczema on infants face
6 / 20

Atopic Dermatitis or Eczema

Eczema is an itchy, red rash that may or may not occur in response to a trigger. It is common in children who have a family history of asthma, allergies, or atopic dermatitis. Eczema may occur on baby's face as a weepy rash. Over time it becomes thick, dry, and scaly. You may also see eczema on the elbow, chest, arms, or behind the knees. To treat it, identify and avoid any triggers. Use gentle soaps and detergents and apply moderate amounts of moisturizers. More severe eczema should be treated with prescription medicine.

Swipe to advance
Newborn dry skin
7 / 20

Baby's Dry Skin

You probably shouldn't worry if your newborn has peeling, dry skin -- it often happens if your baby is born a little late. The underlying skin is perfectly healthy, soft, and moist. If your infant's dry skin persists, talk to your baby's pediatrician.

Swipe to advance
Newborn baby with cradle cap (crusta lactea)
8 / 20

Excess Oil Causes Cradle Cap

Cradle cap can show up during baby's first or second month, and usually clears up within the first year. Also called seborrheic dermatitis, cradle cap is caused in part by excess oil and shows up as a scaly, waxy, red rash on the scalp, eyebrows, eyelids, the sides of the nose, or behind the ears. Your pediatrician will recommend the best treatment for cradle cap, which may include a special shampoo, baby oil, or certain creams and lotions.

Swipe to advance
Heat rash on baby's shoulder
9 / 20

Prickly Heat Causes Irritated Skin

Showing up as small pinkish-red bumps, prickly heat usually appears on the parts of your baby's body that are prone to sweating, like the neck, diaper area, armpits, and skin folds. A cool, dry environment and loose-fitting clothes are all you need to treat prickly heat rash -- which can even be brought on in winter when baby is over-bundled. Try dressing baby in layers that you can remove when things heat up.

Swipe to advance
Baby having diaper changed
10 / 20

Infant Skin Doesn't Need Powdering

Babies can inhale the very fine grains of talcum powder or the larger particles of cornstarch, which could cause lung problems. So it's best to avoid using them on your infant.

Swipe to advance
Milia on infant's face
11 / 20

Newborn Skin: White Bumps (Milia)

As many as one in two newborns get the little white bumps known as milia. Appearing usually on the nose and face, they're caused by skin flakes blocking oil glands. Milia are sometimes called "baby acne," but baby acne is related to yeast. In this case, baby skin care is easy: As baby's glands open up over the course of a few days or weeks, the bumps usually disappear, and need no treatment.

Swipe to advance
Close-up of thrush in baby's mouth
12 / 20

Baby Yeast Infections

Yeast infections often appear after your baby has had a round of antibiotics, and show up differently depending on where they are on your baby's skin. Thrush appears on the tongue and mouth, and looks like dried milk, while a yeast diaper rash is bright red, often with small red pimples at the rash edges. Talk to your pediatrician: Thrush is treated with an anti-yeast liquid medicine, while an anti-fungal cream is used for a yeast diaper rash.

Swipe to advance
Father and baby boy (0-3 months) lying on bed
13 / 20

Laundry Tips for Baby Skin Care

Avoiding skin rashes will keep your baby smiling and happy: Use a gentle detergent to wash everything that touches your infant's skin, from bedding and blankets, to towels and even your own clothes. You'll cut down on the likelihood of baby developing irritated or itchy skin.

Swipe to advance
The face of a 3-week-old baby with jaundice
14 / 20

Yellow Skin Can Mean Jaundice

Usually occurring two or three days after birth, jaundice is a yellow coloration that affects baby's skin and eyes. It's common in premature infants. Caused by too much bilirubin (a breakdown product of red blood cells), the condition usually disappears by the time baby is 1 or 2 weeks old. Treatment for jaundice may include more frequent feedings or, for more severe cases, light therapy (phototherapy). If your baby looks yellow, talk to your doctor.

Swipe to advance
Baby with floppy hat on sunny dune
15 / 20

Infant Sunburn

The sun may feel great, but it could be exposing your baby's skin to the risk of damaging sunburn. You can use baby sunscreen on infants at any age. Hats and umbrellas are also good for babies. But for the best protection from sunburn, keep your infant out of direct sunlight during the first six months of life. For mild infant sunburn apply a cool cloth to baby's skin for 10-15 minutes a few times daily. For more severe sunburn, call your child's pediatrician.

Swipe to advance
Mother applying sunscreen to her baby
16 / 20

Baby Sunscreen and More

Apply sunscreen to the areas of baby's skin that can't be covered by clothes. You can also use zinc oxide on baby's nose, ears, and lips. Cover the rest of your baby's skin in clothes and a wide-brimmed hat. Sunglasses protect children's eyes from harmful rays.

Swipe to advance
mother and baby shopping
17 / 20

Baby Skin Care Products

Shopping for baby skin care products? Less is more. Look for items without dyes, fragrance, phthalates and parabens -- all of which could cause skin irritation. When in doubt, talk to your pediatrician to see if a product is appropriate for newborn skin.

Swipe to advance
Two-month-old baby taking a bath
18 / 20

Avoiding Skin Problems at Bath Time

Remember, newborn skin is soft and sensitive. Keep baby's skin hydrated by bathing in warm water for only three to five minutes. Avoid letting your baby sit or play or soak for long in soapy water. Apply a baby lotion or moisturizer immediately after bath while skin is still wet, and then pat dry instead of rubbing.

Swipe to advance
Baby massage
19 / 20

Baby Massage

If rashes or other skin conditions are making your baby irritable, try baby massage. Gently stroking and massaging baby's skin can not only help boost relaxation, but it may also lead to better sleep and reduce or stop crying, according to a recent study.

Swipe to advance
Nurse examining baby
20 / 20

When to Call the Pediatrician

Most baby skin rashes and problems aren't serious, but a few may be signs of infection -- and need close attention. If baby's skin has small, red-purplish dots, if there are yellow fluid-filled bumps (pustules), or if baby has a fever or lethargy, see your pediatrician for medical treatment right away.

Swipe to advance

Up Next

Next Slideshow Title

Sources | Medically Reviewed on 08/25/2015 Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on August 25, 2015


  1. Tara Flake / iStockphoto
  2. Katrina Wittkamp / Digital Vision / Getty Images
  3. Copyright © ISM / Phototake -- All rights reserved
  4. Copyright 2007 Interactive Medical Media LLC
  5. Copyright 2007 Interactive Medical Media LLC
  6. Copyright © Bart's Medical Library / Phototake -- All rights reserved.Medscape / WebMD
  7. Rubberball Productions / Getty Images
  8. Ian Boddy / Photo Researchers, Inc
  9. © ISM / Phototake -- All rights reserved.
  10. Frederic Cirou / PhotoAlto / Getty Images
  11. "Color Atlas of Pediatric Dermatology"; Samuel Weinberg, Neil S. Prose, Leonard Kristal; Copyright 2888, 1998, 1990, 1975, by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
  12. Copyright © Watney Collection / Phototake -- All rights reserved.
  13. Terry Vine / Riser / Getty Images
  14. Dr. P. Marazzi / Photo Researchers, Inc.
  15. Alain Daussin / The Imae Bank / Getty Images
  16. Phanie / Photo Researchers, Inc.
  17. John Feingersh / Getty Images
  18. Phanie / Photo Researchers, Inc.
  19. Ruth Jenkinson / Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images
  20. Richard Shock / Stone / Getty Images


American Academy of Dermatology: "Skin Care for Infants."
American Academy of Pediatrics: "Fun in the Sun," "Parenting Corner Q&A: Sun Safety."
Children's Hospital, St. Louis: "Birthmarks and Your Baby," "Cradle Cap," "Baby Skin 101," "Jaundiced Newborn."
The Cochrane Library: "Massage Intervention For Promoting Mental And Physical Health In Infants Aged Under Six Months."

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on August 25, 2015

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.