What's that RASH?

Baby’s skin – per­fect one day, spotty the next. See what’s caus­ing your bub’s blem­ishes with our guide to all things red and ir­ri­tated

Mother & Baby (Australia) - - Expert Advice -

Anew­born’s skin is of­ten far from be­ing as ‘smooth as a baby’s bot­tom’. Rather, it can be spotty, flaky, red, bumpy and itchy, as your bub ad­justs to life out­side the womb.

Of­ten these skin ail­ments will clear up on their own and are noth­ing to worry about, even though they are un­sightly – and likely to ap­pear just as the rel­a­tives come to visit the new baby! How­ever, it’s help­ful to know what these prob­lems are, and be aware of when you might need to see a GP and how to choose prod­ucts that pro­mote, rather than hin­der, heal­ing.

Dr Hope Dinh, from Hope Der­ma­tol­ogy in Mel­bourne, says new­borns are par­tic­u­larly sus­cep­ti­ble to rashes and other skin is­sues in those early weeks as they adapt to their new world.

“Most new­borns are prone to rashes, but for­tu­nately most of these do re­solve spon­ta­neously,” she says. “Ba­bies have been in­su­lated in the warm, pro­tec­tive and hy­drat­ing en­vi­ron­ment of mum’s womb for so long. They do get a bit of a shock when they are in­tro­duced to the world.”

You don’t need to do any­thing too spe­cial to care for your baby’s skin. But it’s best to use prod­ucts that are as mild as pos­si­ble, avoid­ing colour, fra­grance, lano­lin and soap.

“The best thing par­ents can do for their baby’s skin is to keep the skin­care reg­i­men simple and reg­u­lar,” says Hope. “A good-qual­ity bath oil that is non­fra­granced should be used at bath time, and a close eye should be kept on the bath tem­per­a­ture to en­sure it is not too warm.

Most new­borns are prone to rashes, but for­tu­nately most of these do re­solve spon­ta­neously.

“Reg­u­lar ap­pli­ca­tion of a good fra­grance­free mois­turiser is rec­om­mended af­ter bath time and though­out the day as needed.”

So what are these ir­ri­tat­ing ail­ments, how can you help and when do you need to be con­cerned about them?

CAP it off

It’s un­sightly, usu­ally harm­less and bound to ap­pear in those weeks when your rel­a­tives and friends are keen to meet your lit­tle one. Cra­dle cap, or in­fan­tile se­b­or­rhoeic der­mati­tis, is that greasy, scaly, crusty rash that oc­curs on the scalp of new­borns. It’s very com­mon, and usu­ally ap­pears within the first six weeks af­ter birth, even­tu­ally dis­ap­pear­ing on its own, although it can oc­ca­sion­ally per­sist for six to nine months.

“The ex­act cause of cra­dle cap is not known but is pos­si­bly due to overactive oil glands in the skin of new­born ba­bies, due to the mother's hor­mones still in the baby's cir­cu­la­tion,” says Hope.

“The overactive oil glands do not al­low skin to nat­u­rally slough off, and in­stead we see dead skin cells ‘stuck’ to the scalp as an ad­her­ent crust. There may be an as­so­ci­a­tion with yeast over­growth in

the skin, too.”


You can ei­ther leave the crusts to even­tu­ally fall off or you could soften them with a lo­tion overnight that may loosen them a lit­tle, be­fore using a soft brush to re­move. How­ever, try not to pick at them, as this could cause in­fec­tion. If it looks like the scalp is be­com­ing in­fected, which is rare, get in touch with your GP. MILKY spots Teens aren’t the only ones to be af­flicted by pim­ples – new ba­bies suf­fer, too. Milia, also known as milk spots, is caused by ex­cess se­bum pro­duc­tion in the skin, and they ap­pear as a pim­ple-like rash that dots the chin, cheeks and nose.

Milia oc­curs when sweat ducts be­come blocked – the con­di­tion is also known as heat rash or prickly heat. Not all ba­bies are af­fected, but it is very com­mon. The rash can be itchy, and is best treated or pre­vented by en­sur­ing baby does not get too hot.


Most ba­bies’ spotty skin will go away by it­self. Try to avoid touch­ing and never squeeze the pim­ples.

Milk spots are nor­mal and should clear up by them­selves but if you are con­cerned about changes to your baby’s skin, you should con­sult your doc­tor.

BOT­TOM line

All ba­bies need nap­pies, and nearly ev­ery baby will end up with a red, sore and an­gry-look­ing rash around their bot­tom at some time. Keep­ing nappy rash un­der con­trol can be chal­leng­ing as it is caused by the skin be­ing in con­tact with urine and fae­ces, trapped un­der a nappy.


“Treat­ing nappy rash is best done by chang­ing the nappy fre­quently, ap­ply­ing a good bar­rier cream and im­ple­ment­ing reg­u­lar nappy-free time,” says Hope. Nappy rash can be­come more se­ri­ous if it gets in­fected. Fun­gal in­fec­tion is com­mon and will ap­pear as a very an­gry rash with dis­tinct mar­gins. If the nappy rash gets worse, de­spite care and treat­ment, or it does not seem to be get­ting bet­ter, then it is ad­vis­able to see your GP.


Some ba­bies are born with red dis­coloura­tion on their skin, which is usu­ally mild and likely to fade over time.

A stork bite, or salmon patch, is a type of birth­mark that is seen in about onethird of new­borns. “These are small, flat patches of pink or red skin with ill-de­fined bor­ders. Usu­ally found on the back of the neck, fore­head or be­tween the eyes, they can be­come red­der when the baby is cry­ing. Most stork bites will dis­ap­pear within the first year of life,” says Hope.


Wait it out – most will fade by the time your bub turns two. If you are wor­ried about a birth­mark, see your GP. If a stork bite lasts longer than three years, it may be re­moved to im­prove the skin’s ap­pear­ance.

ITCHY scratchies

An es­ti­mated one in five chil­dren will de­velop eczema be­fore the age of two, ac­cord­ing to the Aus­tralasian So­ci­ety of Clin­i­cal Im­munol­ogy and Al­lergy. The good news is that in­fan­tile eczema, which ap­pears in the first six months of life, of­ten im­proves be­tween the ages of two and five.

The skin bar­rier of those who suf­fer from eczema is im­paired, and has less water-re­tain­ing prop­er­ties, so mois­ture is lost from the skin, caus­ing it to dry out.

“There are a few rea­sons why eczema oc­curs, in­clud­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors and ge­netic ten­den­cies,” says Hope.

If your baby has eczema, she will have no­tice­ably dry and itchy patches of red skin, usu­ally in the folds of the arms and legs, or around the mouth and nappy re­gion, as well as other ar­eas of skin.

“Dress your baby in light, breath­able cloth­ing, use a shower wash or bath oil in­stead of soap, and keep show­ers and baths luke­warm to avoid dry­ing out the skin,” says Hope.


Make sure you al­ways keep your baby’s skin well mois­turised, place mittens over her hands to pre­vent scratch­ing and bathe her daily, gently pat­ting her skin dry.

If you sus­pect your baby has eczema, see your doc­tor for strate­gies to man­age this skin con­di­tion. Eczema can eas­ily be­come in­fected, es­pe­cially if your bub scratches to re­lieve the itch, so visit your GP if you are at all con­cerned.

An es­ti­mated one in five chil­dren will de­velop eczema be­fore the age of two.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.