7 Common Baby Skin Rashes and How to Treat Them at Home

    7 Common Baby Skin Rashes and How to Treat Them at Home

    Many parents, especially first-time mommies, panic at the sight of rashes on their baby’s skin. That is why it is important to understand that some skin conditions among babies are normal and not harmful. In this article, we will talk about the most common baby skin rashes and their appropriate home treatment.

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    Baby Acne

    According to reports, about 20% to 30% of newborns and infants develop acne, making it one of the most common baby skin rashes. Medically known as “neonatal acne,” these rashes look like red or white pimples on your baby’s forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin. But don’t be surprised if you see them in other places, too.

    Onset: Most babies develop acne at 2 to 4 weeks of age, and it may persist for up to 4 to 6 months.

    Cause: Doctors explain that newborns get acne after birth from their exposure to maternal hormones in the womb, before birth.

    Remedy: Baby acne will clear up on its own, so there is no need for treatment. What you can do is wash your baby’s face once a day with mild soap or cleanser and water. Do not apply ointment or oil as they often make the acne worse. If you are worried that the acne is not going away or if you want to “aggressively” treat it, consult your doctor.

    Cradle Cap

    If you see thick, yellow patches on your baby’s skin, and notice that they are also crusty and greasy, it’s most probably “seborrheic dermatitis.” Mothers know this rash as a cradle cap because they often appear on the scalp. However, babies can also have them on their face and diaper area.

    Onset: One of the most common baby skin rashes, cradle cap can develop anytime from 2 weeks to 12 months of age.

    Cause: The exact cause of cradle cap is still not clear, but experts believe it happens due to the normal buildup of dead skin cells and oil.

    Remedy: Like baby acne, cradle cap usually clears on its own. To hasten healing, you can help your baby by carefully washing the area. Use mild shampoo on their scalp and try to “loosen” the scales using a soft-bristled brush. If you find stubborn scales, rub baby oil on your baby’s skin for a few minutes before brushing and shampooing their hair.

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    Did you know that milia occur in 40% to 50% of babies? One of the most common baby skin rashes, milia looks like pearly-white or yellow tiny bumps on your baby’s skin. They usually appear on their forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin, but some have them on the limbs.

    Onset: Many babies are born with milia. They usually disappear within the first week or month, but some have them up to the second and third months.

    Cause: Blocked pores or oil glands usually cause milia.

    Remedy: The pores and oil glands will open up on their own, so treatment is not necessary. As with usual home treatment for baby skin rashes, gently wash your baby’s face with mild soap and water.

    Prickly Heat Rash

    Mothers know prickly heat rash as “bungang araw,” and it’s also one of the most common baby skin rashes. Medically referred to as “Miliaria rubra,” these heat rashes appear as fine, tiny bumps that could be clear, pink, or red. Newborns usually have them on covered parts or those areas that are prone to sweat and heat, such as chest, armpits, neck, and diaper area.

    Onset: Prickly heat rash or “bungang araw” is said to be the most temporary baby skin rashes. They commonly appear on babies during hot, humid weather.

    Cause: These common baby skin rashes develop because of blocked sweat glands. Experts explain that the openings of your baby’s sweat glands are so tiny that any kind of irritation can block them. In prickly heat rash, the irritation comes from heat – either from hot weather or being overdressed. Sometimes friction from clothes and ointment applications can also cause irritation.

    Remedy: Bungang araw does not require additional treatment other than transferring your baby to a cooler environment and making sure that their clothes are not too thick. It will also help if you give them a cool bath. Please do not apply liniment baby powder to the rashes, but you can apply lotion for dry skin.

    Erythema Toxicum

    Experts say that erythema toxicum is also one of the most common baby skin rashes; it is perfectly normal and is actually expected in some newborn babies. Reports estimate that it occurs in 40% to 70% of newborns. Erythema toxicum looks like insect bites, but remember that they are not. They are also not a symptom of infection.

    The rashes appear as flat, red splotches without defined borders. Moms also see a tiny white or yellow, pimple-like dot at the center of the rash. You can find them anywhere on the body, except on the soles and palms.

    Onset: Erythema toxicum typically appears in the first week of life and goes away within a week.

    Causes: Doctors explain that an imbalance in the fetal and maternal hormones usually causes erythema toxicum.

    Remedy: These rashes do not require treatment as they will disappear on their own.

    common baby skin rashes

    Diaper Rash

    Diaper rash is common baby skin rashes that appear as bright-red patchwork on your baby’s genitals and bottom. Babies often cry because of these rashes as they are sore and irritating.

    Onset and Cause: Babies can develop them anytime when their skin experiences prolonged exposure to a wet or dirty diaper.

    Remedy: The home treatment for these common baby skin rashes usually involves diaper rash ointment or cream. There are many over-the-counter brands available in the store, but you can also consult your doctor for the best option.

    To heal your baby’s rashes, dry their bottom and the genital area thoroughly after each diaper change and then use the cream or ointment. To avoid developing the rashes, change your baby’s nappies frequently. Also, allow them to go without a diaper even just for short periods.

    Don’t use powder or cornstarch as your baby may inhale them and harm their lungs.


    Another of the common baby skin rashes is eczema. The rashes appear as dry, rough patches that are often crusty and itchy. You can see the rashes anywhere on the body but are more common in between fingers and areas which we can flex (elbows, armpits, etc).

    Onset: Most cases of eczema happen within a few months after the baby is born. Some babies outgrow it once they reach school age, but for others, it could persist until adulthood.

    Cause: Baby eczema usually occurs due to atopy or the genetic tendency to experience allergic conditions. If parents have allergies, they can pass them to the baby.

    Remedy: To help your baby feel better when they have eczema, bathe them every 2 or 3 days instead of daily. Use a generous amount of gentle moisturizer on their skin and avoid any kind of irritation. You can also use topical steroids as per doctor recommendation.

    Key Takeaways

    A lot of us know that a baby’s skin is sensitive, that is why it is sometimes alarming when we see rashes on them. Keeping these common baby skin rashes in mind will help parents identify what’s normal and what’s not.

    If the home treatment for baby skin rashes does not work and you feel that the rashes are not going away as they should, bring your newborn to the doctor.

    Learn more about Baby Care here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS

    Pediatrics · Philippine Pediatric Society

    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Mar 29, 2021