Skin Care and Rashes

Growing Up Healthy

Skin Care and Rashes

Newborns frequently have dry, flaky skin, especially on the hands, feet and abdomen. This is nature's way of removing old skin. Resist the urge to apply baby oils, lotions and creams. These frequently create more problems than they solve.

Newborn Rash

Erythema toxicum, often called newborn rash, is a red, blotchy spotting on the face and trunk. It is common during the first two weeks of life. This type of rash is of no concern. In the center of the red blotches is a small, white lump that looks much like an insect bite. The cause is unknown and they disappear without treatment in a few weeks.

Newborn Acne

Newborn acne of the face affects about a third of newborns and seldom needs treatment. It appears around a month of age and lasts until 4 to 6 months.

Forceps Marks

Forceps marks on the face and skull may be seen when forceps were used to ease the baby through the birth canal. These may appear as bruises or lumpiness in the fat tissue, which appears a week later. These usually heal spontaneously without specific treatment unless the skin is broken.


Milia are tiny white bumps mostly on the nose and face of the newborn. These are skin pores that are trying to break through the final layer of skin. When they do, the milia will disappear.

Stork Bite Birthmarks

Stork bite birthmarks are salmon color vascular markings usually seen on the nape of the neck, the eyelids and above the nose. They occur in up to 40 percent of newborns. These tend to fade within a year or two and require no treatment. Other types of vascular markings call hemangiomas may occur and occasionally require treatment.

Mongolia Spots

Mongolian spots are bluish pigmented birthmarks most often seen in Native American, Asian, Hispanic and African-American newborns. They are often present over the lower back and buttock area. Size is variable and although they may fade somewhat after a few years, they are often present into adult life.

Drooling Rashes

Drooling rashes on the chin from milk and spit-up are common. Although no specific treatment is required, it helps to wash off the milk and spit-up with plain water. Drooling often develops around the third month of life when salivary glands become active. A soft cloth under the face when he is lying on his stomach helps to catch this material. A barrier cream such as Desitin® or Vaseline® will decrease irritation.

Pustular Rashes

Pustular rashes, such as large pimples or boils, and blisters frequently indicate infection and should be reported to your doctor.

Diaper Rashes

Diaper rashes are very common. Changing diapers regularly can minimize the frequency and severity of these rashes. Carefully wash urine and stool from the skin. It is okay to use diaper wipes, unless they irritate your baby's skin.

If a diaper rash develops, leave the diaper off and air-dry the rash. Blow-drying with a hair dryer speeds drying. Remember to keep the hair dryer 18 to 24 inches away from the baby's skin and to only use cool or gentle warm heat. This system can be used for five minutes or so a few times each day. Preparations such as A&D®, Desitin®, Diaper Guard®, Paladin®, Buttpaste®, and Caldescene® may help.

If the rash doesn't improve after several days, call your doctor's office.

Yeast Infection

Rashes that fail to heal after many days may develop a secondary yeast infection that is characterized by a large, bright red area that has a sharp outer edge and an assortment of smaller lesions nearby. This rash is usually on the baby's front side, and includes the skin folds. A special fungal rash medication such as Lotrim® is necessary to clear this type of rash. Contact your physician if you feel this type of rash is present.

Cradle Cap

This is a skin condition of the newborn scalp characterized by a thick, yellow, greasy scale that can also involve the forehead and the area behind the ears. Apply baby oil to the scalp daily and begin to remove the scales by brushing or scratching with your fingernail. You can then shampoo away the scales. Repeat until all the scales have been removed. A dandruff shampoo such as Head and Shoulders®, T-Gel® or Nizoral® may be needed to control cradle cap. If this fails to resolve the condition, check with the doctor's nurse.