If you notice a rash on your baby’s face or other parts of their body, it’s natural to feel concerned. But in most cases, it’s normal and nothing you need to be too worried about. Here are some common types of rashes that can affect babies, their potential causes, and what to do about them.
Common baby rashes
Teens aren’t the only ones who are prone to acne. The following types of acne affect babies:
- Neonatal acne: If your peanut has pimples—yes, ones that look similar to those you might remember from your middle school years—it’s most likely neonatal acne. This common type of baby acne in newborns appears as small red pimples, primarily on the cheeks, nose, neck, back, and chest.
- Infantile acne: Infantile acne develops after a baby is six weeks old and is less prevalent than neonatal acne. It looks like pimples, whiteheads, blackheads, and occasionally cysts and nodules.
Indicators of baby acne
Those hormones that were so important for mama during pregnancy are still circulating in the baby, stimulating their oil-producing glands. That, combined with sensitive newborn skin, underdeveloped pores, and possible outside irritants, can result in baby breakouts.
Managing baby acne
Most of the time, neonatal acne is harmless and should go away without treatment within a few months. However, if you think your baby has infantile acne, reach out to a pediatric dermatologist to rule out eczema, a skin infection, or other health problem. Unlike neonatal acne, infantile acne may require care that can include topical medicines and antibiotics for more severe cases.
At one time or another, most parents will be changing their baby’s diaper and notice their little one’s bottom, inner thighs, and genital area covered in a red, inflamed rash. It can be an upsetting sight, and chances are your baby isn’t loving it either. The skin is tender, and your baby will be understandably fussy and may cry when the area is touched or washed.
Diaper rash causes
Diaper rash can be caused by several things, including:
- Leaving a wet or dirty diaper on too long
- Tight-fitting diapers or clothes that chafe or rub the skin
- A yeast or bacterial infection (sometimes caused by mom’s antibiotics if breastfeeding)
- Irritants such as laundry detergent
- New foods
Soothing your baby’s diaper rash
The good news is that diaper rash can usually be easily remedied by applying cream on your baby’s bottom at changing time. And to help reduce the risk of diaper rash in the first place, try changing your baby more often or letting them air dry. A doctor’s visit is recommended if the diaper rash is severe, looks infected, or is accompanied by a fever.
Heat rash is also called prickly heat. It looks and feels kind of like it sounds—small, itchy, red bumps on the skin. The rash may appear anywhere but is often found on the skin folds, buttocks, and neck.
Heat rash causes
Babies have small sweat glands and are less able to regulate body temperature. When they overheat, those sweat glands can become blocked, which can cause heat rash. This can happen when a baby is overdressed, swaddled, or exposed to too much sun or heat. Your baby may become cranky and restless, as heat rash can be uncomfortable.
Baby heat rash remedies
Some at-home heat rash management options include:
- Keeping your baby’s skin dry and cool
- Applying a cool compress to the rash area
- Cleaning the skin folds to remove trapped sweat
- Leaving your baby undressed
While heat rash is usually not serious and typically clears up within a few days, watch for the following that could indicate an infection, such as:
- Pus-filled blisters or spreading of the rash
Teens aren’t the only ones who are prone to acne.
Notice crusty and flaky red patches of skin on your baby's face and scalp? It could be infantile eczema, a condition common in newborns. This itchy rash may also appear on the forehead, cheeks, and mouth area.
Causes of eczema in babies
Eczema can be hereditary or can be linked to allergies. Rash flare-ups can be triggered by everything from dry skin and sweat to certain types of foods and clothing. Writing down when your baby is having an eczema flare may help your doctor identify, or at least narrow down, potential triggers.
If you think your baby may have eczema, a dermatologist visit is recommended. They can examine your little one’s issues and make a diagnosis.
While there’s no cure for eczema, most children will outgrow the condition by age four. Others may continue to have the condition into adulthood.
It’s important to talk to your dermatologist about how to best manage and control your baby’s eczema. They may suggest the following:
- Regular, gentle bathing to remove irritants and patting the skin dry afterward
- Moisturizing your baby’s skin
- Avoiding triggers
- Medicated ointments for flare-ups
- Wet wraps on irritated skin
Contact your doctor if you notice indications of infection, such as pus-filled blisters or sores.
Cow’s milk protein allergy
Many people associate cow’s milk protein allergy and intolerance with tummy issues, but they can also cause rashes. Cow's milk protein allergy (CMPA) is a common food allergy in babies and can be indicated by:
- Abdominal pain
- Blood/mucus in stool
- Itchy red rash on the face, scalp, hands, or feet
- Eczema and hives
- Swelling of the face, lips, and around the eyes
- Runny nose
In rare cases, CMPA can cause sudden and severe allergic reactions such as wheezing, swelling in the mouth or throat, cough, and breathing difficulty. This is a medical emergency and requires immediate attention, typically involving an injection of epinephrine.
Causes of cow's milk protein allergy (CMPA)
Cow’s milk protein sensitivities such as CMPA are caused when a baby’s immune system has an adverse response to the protein in cow’s milk. It’s more prevalent in formula-fed babies since most infant formulas are cow milk-based. However, breastfed babies can also have an allergic reaction to the cow’s milk protein that’s passed from the mother's diet.
If you suspect CMPA, try to make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and management can help your baby feel better, keep up with their nutritional needs, and avoid worsening issues.
Cow’s milk protein allergy management
If your baby is diagnosed with CMPA, you may be referred to a pediatric allergy specialist or dietician who may advise you to:
- Switch to a special hypoallergenic infant formula if your baby is formula-feeding. Be sure to check with your doctor before switching formulas.
- Avoid all cow’s milk products in your own diet if you’re breastfeeding.
What to do about your baby’s rash
From cow’s milk protein allergy to diaper rash, there are quite a few conditions that could affect your baby’s skin. And while rashes can look scary, most are temporary and manageable. As with any health concern, if your little one is showing indications of a skin condition, such as a rash on the face, back, or other body part, reach out to your healthcare provider for professional diagnosis and medical guidance. Your pediatrician may refer you to a pediatric dermatologist.
Consider Nutramigen® with probiotic LGG® for your formula-fed baby with cow’s milk protein allergy
If your doctor links your little one’s skin issue to a possible cow’s milk protein allergy, ask them about Nutramigen LGG Infant Formula, a hypoallergenic formula clinically shown to manage colic due to cow's milk protein allergy fast, in as quickly as 48 hours.* Nutramigen LGG can also help reduce the incidence of future allergy challenges while still providing the nutrition your baby needs for healthy development. Learn more about Nutramigen LGG Infant Formula.