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Newborns > Newborn Rashes

Newborn Rashes


Newborn acne is a common skin condition in babies that develops in the first few weeks of life and continues for a few months. Although it can look discomforting, it is not serious and does not scar. It does not bother babies. It can occur on the face, scalp, neck, shoulders, and chest. Do not be afraid if it spreads, this is common.

Newborn acne is likely related to hormone's that Baby gets from Mom. Baby's pores get clogged with oils. It often seems that dry skin is more prone to acne, so one treatment is using a mild, non-fragranced white moisturizer.

When cleaning Baby's face, you can use water alone or water with a gentle cleanser. Avoid harsh soaps. Cleansers tend to be less irritating than soap.

Wash all family member's clothing in a hypoallergenic detergent and avoid scented dryer sheets, since Baby spends quite a bit of time lying on a parent's shoulder and fragrances can irritate Baby's skin.

Resist the urge to pop any of the pimples, since that can worsen the rash and lead to secondary infection. 

Cradle Cap

A baby's scalp often gets flaky and crusty, commonly called cradle cap. The scales are a buildup of old skin cells and oils. Gentle massage of the scalp during hair washing can help relax scales. Some parents like to apply olive oil, but this doesn't always help. They do sell cradle cap shampoos, which can be used. Older infants can use dandruff shampoo.

Cutis Marmorata

Cutis marmorata is a lacy pink mottling of the skin that symmetrically involves the trunk and extremities. It is caused by a blood vessel response to cold and generally resolves when the skin is warmed. A tendency to cutis marmorata may persist for several weeks or months, or sometimes into early childhood. No treatment is needed.

Erythema Toxicum Neonatorum

Erythema Toxicum Neonatorum is a horrible - sounding but quite innocent rash. It occurs in many newborns and is a lot like hives. It is a red welt, with a central raised white area. Spots can move around, just like hives. This rash often shows up soon after birth and lasts about a month. It occurs in about half of all newborns. There is no treatment needed. For an image, see WebMD.


Hemangiomas are blue, red, or purple birthmarks caused by a collection of blood vessels. They may or may not be present at birth and they can grow over the first year or 18 months of life, then they start to shrink. They require treatment by a dermatologist if they are near the eyes and will obstruct normal vision development or if they are near an airway. Many are on the head or trunk and do not need treatment. Most will completely go away by school age.

Peeling Skin

Most newborns develop peeling skin, starting at the wrists and ankles and extending throughout the body. It does not predict a predisposition to dry skin problems. No lotions or creams are needed. It resolves within a few days and no treatment is needed.

Purple hands and feet

Purple hands and feet are called acrocyanosis. Acrocyanosis is common in newborns and is related to poor circulation. It usually resolves within a few days. As long as the blue skin is limited to the hands and feet, it is not a cause for concern.

Pustular Melanosis

A rash that looks like pus filled pimples that open and leave temporary dark spots is common in darker pigmented infants. It is harmless and doesn't need treatment. Babies are born with it and it goes away in the first few days to weeks of life.

Stork Bites and Angel Kisses

Many babies are born with red patches on the nape of the neck (or back of the scalp) - commonly known as stork bites, and on the eyelids or elsewhere on the face - commonly called angel kisses. These birthmarks are not bruises and are not due to trauma. They are collections of blood vessels. They usually fade over years (but may show up with anger, fear, or nerves). In some people they never go away, but they are not a cause for concern at all.

Mongolian Spots (blue grey macules)

Mongolian spots are sometimes mistaken for bruises by parents, but they are birthmarks not related to trauma. They are commonly over the lower back and buttocks, but can occur anywhere on the skin. They are caused by a pigment that didn't make it to the top layer of skin when skin was being formed. They usually fade away over the first few years of life. They are not a cause for concern and do not need any treatment.

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