Newborn Rashes

Newborns commonly have rashes and other skin problems. Most of them are not harmful (benign). They usually go away on their own in a short time. Some of the following are common newborn skin conditions.

  • Milia are tiny, 1 to 2 mm pearly white spots that often appear on a newborn's face, especially the cheeks, nose, chin, and forehead. They can also occur on the gums during the first week of life. When they appear inside the mouth, they are called Epstein's pearls. These clear up in 3 to 4 weeks of life without treatment and are not harmful. Sometimes, they may persist up to the third month of life.

  • Heat rash (miliaria, or prickly heat) happens when your newborn is dressed too warmly or when the weather is hot. It is a red or pink rash usually found on covered parts of the body. It may itch and make your newborn uncomfortable. Heat rash is most common on the head and neck, upper chest, and in skin folds. It is caused by blocked sweat ducts in the skin. It can be prevented by reducing heat and humidity and not dressing your newborn in tight, warm clothing. Lightweight cotton clothing, cooler baths, and air conditioning may be helpful.

  • Neonatal acne (acne neonatorum) is a rash that looks like acne in older children. It may be caused by hormones from the mother before birth. It usually begins at 2 to 4 weeks of age. It gets better on its own over the next few months with just soap and water daily. Severe cases are sometimes treated. Neonatal acne has nothing to do with whether your child will have acne problems as a teenager.

  • Toxic erythema of the newborn (erythema toxicum neonatorum) is a rash of the first 1 or 2 days of life. It consists of harmless red blotches with tiny bumps that sometimes contain pus. It may appear on only part of the body or on most of the body. It is usually not bothersome to the newborn. The blotchy areas may come and go for 1 or 2 days, but then they go away without treatment.

  • Pustular melanosis is a common rash in darker skinned infants. It causes pus-filled pimples. These can break open and form dark spots surrounded by loose skin. It is most common on the chin, forehead, neck, lower back, and shins. It is present from birth and goes away without treatment after 24 to 48 hours.

  • Diaper rash is a redness and soreness on the skin of a newborn's bottom or genitals. It is caused by wearing a wet diaper for a long time. Urine and stool can irritate the skin. Diaper rash can happen when your newborn sleeps for hours without waking. If your newborn has diaper rash, take extra care to keep him or her as dry as possible with frequent diaper changes. Barrier creams, such as zinc paste, also help to keep the affected skin healthy. Sometimes, an infection from bacteria or yeast can cause a diaper rash. Seek medical care if the rash does not clear within 2 or 3 days of keeping your newborn dry.

  • Facial rashes often appear around your newborn's mouth or on the chin as skin-colored or pink bumps. They are caused by drooling and spitting up. Clean your newborn's face often. This is especially important after your newborn eats or spits up.