18 Newborn Skin Conditions Every Parent Must Know

8 min read
18 Newborn Skin Conditions Every Parent Must Know

Does your newborn have rashes, lumps, spots and bumps? And you’re freaking out now, right?

It’s just natural for parents to be concerned if something goes wrong about their babies, most especially in their early months in life. Good news is, these common newborn skin conditions usually just go away on their own and are harmless.

However, there are also those that you shouldn’t ignore — those blister-type or reddish rashes that are usually accompanied by other symptoms such as fever or cough. These must be evaluated by the doctor as soon as possible.

Now, this brings us to the question, how will we know if our baby’s rashes are the usual and common rashes or those that needed to be seen by a doctor right away? Here are some newborn skin conditions that you need to know.

Common Baby Skin Conditions

These types of skin conditions happen to most babies but doesn’t usually pose threat to the baby’s life.

1. Erythema toxicum

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It appears as slightly raised red blotches and may have a small white or yellow dot at the centre. This is usually caused by minor irritations from the baby’s new surroundings but its cause is generally unknown. It occurs within the first 48-72 hours after birth but may resolve within a few days or weeks without treatment.

2. Milia

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It is characterised by little white spots or bumps on the nose and face, which is caused by blocked oil glands in the pores. It is estimated that around half of all newborns will develop this. However, when the baby’s oil glands enlarge and open up within their first month, the white spots will go away.

3. Pink Pimples or Baby Acne

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Also called neonatal acne, these pink pimples that appear on the baby’s cheeks and nose, are thought to be caused by maternal hormones which the baby is exposed to in-utero. This usually disappears around the six-week mark or more but is perfectly harmless.

4. Salmon patches

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Usually called angel’s kiss, salmon patches are simple nests of blood vessels that are probably caused by maternal hormones. These appear in between the eyes that just fade on their own after a few weeks or months. However, those that appear at the back of the neck, called stork bites, occasionally never go away.

5. Keratosis pilaris

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Some babies also develop keratosis pilaris or commonly called chicken skin that makes the baby’s part of the body that has this skin condition look like it’s covered in goosebumps. This is caused by genetics and is harmless.

6. Mongolian spots

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These flat, grayish blue spots are common in dark-skinned babies. While they look like bruises, it isn’t painful and harmless. These are caused by pigments that didn’t make it to the top layer as the baby’s skin was formed. These usually fade when the baby reaches school age.

7. Heat rash

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When a baby’s body overheats and sweats, prickly heat rashes usually show up. It appears as small red bumps on the baby’s area that tends to overheat, such as the neck, diaper area and armpits. When this happens, just keep the area dry, remove excess clothing or let the baby wear loose clothing, or let the baby cool down using wet cloth, and the rash will eventually clear on its own.

Baby Skin Conditions That Need Treatment

8. Eczema

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It is characterised by red, dry, cracked and itchy patches on the skin that usually appears on the baby’s chest, arms, legs, face, elbows, and behind the knees. It is caused by dry, sensitive skin or allergies. This can be a long-term skin condition and needs to be seen by a doctor for appropriate treatment. Generally, eczema can be alleviated by using a very gentle soap, skin moisturisers, a steroid cream such as hydrocortisone if eczema doesn’t go away, or gentle washing detergent in the baby’s laundry.

9. Nappy Rash

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It is a common skin condition among babies but it needs treatment once it affects the baby. Nappy rash occurs around the baby’s genitalia and bum, and usually happens when the baby’s skin gets irritated with urine and poop. Treatment includes applying barrier creams to prevent the rash, but if the rashes don’t disappear, a doctor may prescribe a medication to treat it.

10. Hives

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These are red, itchy, raised bumps on the skin that are caused by an allergic reaction, usually to cow’s milk. While it may clear up on its own, you may want to consult a doctor for appropriate treatment.

11. Cradle Cap

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Also called seborrhea, cradle cap is characterised by greasy, yellowish crusts that show up on the baby’s scalp and may include red rashes on the face, behind the ears, on the neck and in the armpits. This often appears when the baby is around 1-2 months old. Depending on the symptoms, the doctor will recommend an appropriate treatment for this skin condition.

Baby Skin Conditions Due To Infections

12. Ringworm

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A skin infection such as a ringworm can also affect babies and can cause red ring-like rashes that can appear anywhere in the baby’s body. It can be treated using over-the-counter creams and is generally easy to treat.

13. Fifth Disease

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This occurs due to a viral infection. Also called a slapped cheek syndrome, this is characterised by a bright red rash on both the baby’s cheeks along with a fever. While it can clear up on its own after a few days, it can infect others, even babies still in the womb of a pregnant mother. It is advised to not let the baby be in contact with others until the condition has cleared.

14. Hand, foot and mouth disease

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This is also caused by a viral infection that starts on the hands and feet. It is accompanied by a fever and the baby may feel generally unwell. It also includes blister-like rashes and is highly contagious. The rashes may clear up on its own within 7 to 10 days so prevent any contact of your baby with other kids to stop the spread of the infection.

15. Fungal infection

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Some babies may also be infected with candidiasis which is a fungal infection. They can appear on the tongue, called thrush and would look like dried milk but it can’t be scraped off. It can also show up in the diaper area that looks like red rashes with small bumps around the edges. It can also appear in the creases of the thighs since fungal infections want moist and dark areas.

Candidiasis can be treated with antifungal oral gel or liquid medicine (for oral thrush) or antifungal cream (for the diaper area), or both.

16. Erythema multiforme

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It is characterised by a red spot-like rash that is accompanied by a fever. Erythema multiforme usually starts as a rash on the hands or feet before it spreads across the body. Though not really a serious condition and is usually caused by a reaction to a medication or an infection such as herpes simplex virus, it is adviseable to see a doctor to assess this skin condition. This usually takes up to six weeks to clear up.

17. Impetigo

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Impetigo is an infection that causes rashes, sores and blisters on the skin of a baby. Although not serious, your baby needs to be prescribed with antibiotics from a doctor. It is often spread by older kids and disappears within 7 to 10 days.

18. Meningococcal Disease

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If your baby exhibits bruise-like purple bumps on the skin along with a typical cold or respiratory tract infection, including nausea, fever, tiredness and stiff neck, he/she needs to get immediate medical attention. These symptoms could be that of a meningococcal disease, which is generally uncommon.


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If you become concerned about any symptoms, please seek immediate medical attention. We have some hotlines and suggested websites for further information and advice.

SAHM takes no responsibility for any illness, injury or death caused by misuse of this information.  All information provided is correct at time of publication.

About Author

Jody Allen

Jody is the founder and essence of Stay at Home Mum. An insatiable appetite for reading from a very young age had Jody harbouring dreams of being a pu...Read Moreblished author since primary school. That deep-seeded need to write found its way to the public eye in 2011 with the launch of SAHM. Fast forward 4 years and a few thousand articles Jody has fulfilled her dream of being published in print. With the 2014 launch of Once a Month Cooking and 2015's Live Well on Less, thanks to Penguin Random House, Jody shows no signs of slowing down. The master of true native content, Jody lives and experiences first hand every word of advertorial she pens. Mum to two magnificent boys and wife to her beloved Brendan; Jody's voice is a sure fire winner when you need to talk to Mums. Read Less

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