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Why Is My Baby’s Face Red?

Why Is My Baby's Face Red?

Cow’s milk protein allergy and some other conditions could potentially cause a red facial rash.

In adults, rosy cheeks are often associated with good health and beauty. But if your baby has red or rosy cheeks, you may be concerned that something isn’t right. In most cases, red blotches on your baby’s face now and then are to be expected and nothing to be too worried about. With super sensitive skin, babies are naturally prone to rashes. Let’s take a deeper look at some possible reasons your little one’s face may be red.

Fifth disease

The name might be a little scary, but fifth disease is a common childhood virus. It’s also known as “slapped cheek” disease because its hallmark sign is a bright red cheek rash. The rash may have a lacy appearance and extend to the arms, legs, and bottom. Like many viral illnesses, it spreads via respiratory fluids. Some other indications of fifth disease include:1

  • Runny nose
  • Low fever
  • Headache
  • Itching
  • Sore throat
  • Itching
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea

The rash usually lasts 3-4 days but can reappear throughout the following months when your baby gets hot.

What to do about fifth disease

A doctor’s visit is recommended. In most cases, your baby won’t require any management and the rash will clear up on its own. And a silver lining is that once your baby has fifth disease once, they typically won’t get it again.

The illness is usually not serious, but see your doctor right away if your baby has a blood or immune disorder, as children with those conditions may require more intensive care.


Notice dry red patches on your baby’s face? It could be eczema, aka atopic dermatitis, a condition that can appear before your child is five years old.

In infants up to six months, eczema causes an itchy rash on the baby’s face or torso. In babies six to twelve months, the rash often appears on the elbows and knees, areas that can be scratched when they crawl.

An eczema flare could be triggered by a variety of things, such as:

  • Dry skin
  • Heat
  • Sweat
  • Certain types of foods
  • Irritants in clothing
  • Infection
  • Allergens such as pet dander, dust, or pollen

How to manage baby eczema

If you suspect your baby may have eczema, schedule an appointment with a dermatologist who can examine your baby and make a professional diagnosis.

Babies typically outgrow eczema by age four, but some children may have the condition through adulthood. And while there’s no cure, your doctor can share with you the best ways to manage your baby’s eczema, which may include:

  • Identifying and avoiding exposure to triggers
  • Daily bathing and moisturizing of your baby’s skin
  • Placing wet wraps on irritated areas
  • Over-the-counter and prescription topical medications for flare-ups

If you suspect your baby may have eczema, schedule an appointment with a dermatologist.


Cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA)

If you notice red blotches on your baby’s face after they eat, a cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA) is something to consider.

This allergy is caused when your little one’s immune system adversely responds to cow’s milk protein as a threat to their body. While it’s more common in formula-fed babies since most infant formulas are cow milk-based, breastfed babies can also react to the cow’s milk protein consumed by mom. Along with a rash, a baby may also have:

  • Lip and facial swelling and swelling around the eyes
  • Digestive issues such as diarrhea or vomiting
  • Colic
  • Runny nose
  • Eczema that does not improve

Managing cow’s milk protein allergy

Babies with CMPA who formula feed often have to switch to a hypoallergenic formula. Mom will probably be advised to cut dairy out of her diet if breastfeeding. Avoid making any changes to your or your baby’s diet without speaking to your doctor first.

Teething rash

From 6 to 24 months old, your little one’s tiny teeth will be coming in, which can set off a perfect storm of events that can result in a rash.

A teething baby will drool a lot, and that excess saliva can irritate their sensitive skin and make it red and rashy. The rash can affect the area around their mouth, lips, chin, face, or chest—any area that comes in contact with the drool.

While harmless, the rash can be uncomfortable, as is the teething itself. Your baby may be fussy, have trouble sleeping, and be understandably irritable.

Easing your baby’s teething rash

It’s not the teething itself that causes the rash; it’s the excess saliva irritating the tender skin. Managing the drool on the skin is key to helping clear up the rash and avoiding it in the first place.

  • Keep the skin clean and dry by gently wiping away drool with a soft, damp cloth and then patting the area dry. Wiping the drool as soon as you see it can help prevent saliva from sitting on the skin.
  • Change your baby’s clothes if they are wet with drool.

When to see a doctor about your baby’s red face

You can manage some rashes at home, but you’ll want to make an appointment with your doctor if your baby has:

  • A rash or redness that persists longer than a few days
  • A rash that looks like eczema and does not improve with home remedies
  • Signs of infection, such as a fever, excessive fussiness, swelling, or pus
  • Bleeding at the rash site
  • A rash accompanied by an injury

As with any medical condition, reach out to a healthcare provider if you have any concerns about a rash or red splotches on your baby’s face. Your pediatrician may refer you to a pediatric dermatologist.

The important thing to keep in mind is that skin redness and rashes are common in babies, and as your baby grows, their skin should become less sensitive.

Ask your pediatrician about Nutramigen® with probiotic LGG® Infant Formula for managing 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. It delivers targeted nutrition for babies with cow's milk protein allergy and is made with extensively hydrolyzed proteins that are less likely to trigger an allergic response. It has also been clinically shown to manage colic due to cow's milk protein allergy fast, in as quickly as 48 hours.* Learn more about Nutramigen LGG.

*Studied before the addition of DHA, ARA or LGG.

All information on Enfamil, including but not limited to information about health, medical conditions, and nutrition, is intended for your general knowledge and is not a substitute for a healthcare professional's medical identification, advice, or management for specific medical conditions. You should seek medical care and consult your doctor or pediatrician for any specific health or nutrition issues. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment, care, or help because of information you have read on Enfamil.