Help! What Is This Rash on My Newborn? Should I Go to a Doctor?

    Help! What Is This Rash on My Newborn? Should I Go to a Doctor?

    Before anything, worried parents should know that a newborn skin rash is usually nothing to be concerned about. Moms and dads, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Most skin rashes that occur with newborns are perfectly normal. And they will resolve on their own in a couple of weeks. Very rarely, they may be a sign of an illness. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly that newborn skin rash is and learn when you should visit a doctor.

    Newborn Skin Rash Basics

    A newborn skin rash can occur for a large variety of reasons. For starters, many newborns develop a form of acne — a fact that many new parents aren’t told. Most rashes are benign and won’t trouble your baby much.

    If you notice a newborn skin rash, it’s a good idea to take the following steps:

    1. Take note of the location of the rash.
    2. Also take note of what the newborn skin rash looks like. Is there a strange color like red or yellow? Is the skin raised? Are there pimples or pustules? Or is the skin flaking or peeling?
    3. Observe your baby for any effects. Is your child fussy? Do they have a fever?

    Keeping track of these signs and symptoms can help your doctor find a solution should you visit one.

    What Is This Newborn Skin Rash?

    A newborn skin rash is a common occurrence in babies.

    Neonatal Acne

    Neonatal acne, or baby acne, is exactly what the name suggests: small pimples that occur on the face of babies. Some babies develop neonatal acne when they are 2 to 4 weeks old. The pimples will clear on their own after a few weeks1.

    Milia

    Milia are small white bumps on the skin. Like neonatal acne, milia will go away on its own2.

    Erythema Toxicum

    Erythema toxicum is a blotchy red rash that appears on the baby’s chest, arms, legs or face. It usually occurs in the first few days after birth. No treatment is necessary, and it won’t bother your baby3.

    Jaundice

    Infant jaundice is common among newborns because of a buildup of bilirubin in the body4, causing a yellow coloration to the skin. Note that the time of jaundice is important.

    Jaundice happening within the 2nd to 3rd day of life is known as Physiologic Jaundice. Exposure to gentle, early morning sunlight can help the jaundice to go away. However, if it persists for more than 5 days, parents must seek immediate consultation. For more severe cases, phototherapy (light therapy) can help.

    Now, if jaundice happens within the first 24 hours, it is known as Pathologic Jaundice, and immediate consultation with the doctor is necessary.

    Birthmarks

    Sometimes, the newborn skin rash is just a birthmark you didn’t notice before. The birthmark may be of different colors or shapes.

    Port wine stains start out pinkish and gradually darken over time. These birthmarks are permanent.

    Congenital melanocytosis, or Mongolian spots, are common in Asian, African and Middle Eastern babies. They appear as what looks like a bluish gray bruise, usually on the buttocks or lower back5. These birthmarks are present at birth and may disappear by the age of 5.

    Cradle Cap

    Cradle cap is a greasy, scaly rash that appears on the scalp of infants. And in some ways, it is similar to dandruff. Washing and gently brushing the scalp with baby oil can help to loosen the scales6.

    When To Go to a Doctor

    A newborn skin rash is usually nothing to worry about. However, if you notice any of the following signs, consult a doctor7:

    • Tiny blisters that contain a clear fluid
    • Blood-colored spots not present at birth
    • Pimples with pus
    • Infected skin (spreading redness, sores, or pus)
    • Rash that is painful to touch
    • Jaundice within the first 24 hours or more than 5 days

    Any fever in a baby less than 12 weeks old warrants a visit to a doctor. Also, if your newborn is behaving in an abnormal way, do not hesitate to seek medical help.

    Key Takeaway

    A newborn skin rash is usually a normal part of the first weeks of your child’s life. Most rashes will go away within a few weeks. Knowing what exactly is happening — and when to visit a doctor — can help you ensure that your child remains healthy.

    Learn more about Baby’s First Year here.

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

    Sources

    1 Baby Acne, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/baby-acne/symptoms-causes/syc-20369880, Accessed November 25, 2021

    2 The Best Ways to Treat and Prevent Milia, https://www.verywellhealth.com/how-to-treat-milia-15668, Accessed November 25, 2021

    3 Erythema Toxicum, https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/erythema-toxicum.html#:~:text=Erythema%20toxicum%20%E2%80%94%20also%20called%20erythema,all%20newborns%20will%20have%20ETN., Accessed November 25, 2021

    4 Jaundice in Newborns, https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/jaundice.html, Accessed November 25, 2021

    5 Skin care for your baby, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2528704/, Accessed November 25, 2021

    6 Cradle Cap: Treatment, Causes and Prevention, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/218942#_noHeaderPrefixedContent, Accessed November 25, 2021

    7 Newborn Rashes and Birthmarks, https://www.seattlechildrens.org/conditions/a-z/newborn-rashes-and-birthmarks/, Accessed November 25, 2021

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    Written by Vincent Sales Updated Sep 12
    Medically reviewed by Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS