When you picture what your newborn’s skin will be like, you probably think of soft, smooth, and more or less perfect baby skin (not to mention that irresistible new baby smell—be sure to get all of the smells, lady)! So don’t be surprised—or alarmed—when this isn’t the case. In fact, it’s quite common for baby to experience a few different skin issues in their first few months of life. Here are a few common skin conditions your little one might experience, and how to treat them.
This is one of the most common rashes that almost every mama will deal with at some point. Cases can be mild, appearing as a red rash with minor bumps or spots in baby’s diaper region—but left untreated diaper rash can progress to look bright red and blotchy with broken skin or blisters.
How to treat it: Since diaper rash is caused by warmth and moisture in wet and dirty diapers, the best way to treat (and prevent) it is by changing baby frequently, letting baby’s naked bottom get some air, and using a diaper cream with zinc oxide for protection. If the rash doesn’t improve or the skin begins to break, call baby’s provider.
If you thought acne flareups only happen to teenagers—you’re mistaken! Small red or white bumps on baby’s cheeks, nose, and forehead can appear in the first two to four weeks after delivery due to the transfer of mama’s hormones to baby. These tiny pimple-looking bumps are temporary and common (more than 30% of new babies develop this skin condition).
How to treat it: Baby acne disappears on its own within a few months. Keep baby’s face clean, dry it gently, and avoid lotions or oils. No matter how tempting it may be, DO NOT pinch or scrub the skin. As always, chat with baby’s provider if you have any concerns.
This is a reaction that occurs when something irritates baby’s skin—common irritants are soaps, detergent, perfumes, and even grass. It looks like an outbreak of red, itchy bumps—and can even result in swollen bleeding skin.
How to treat it: Remove whatever is bothering baby’s skin (clothes that have been washed with an irritating detergent, etc.), then wash with mild soap and water. Apply warm compresses or a moisturizing cream to the area. If you suspect the rash is itchy or bothering your little one, ask your provider about hydrocortisone or an antihistamine for relief.
If you notice greasy, yellowish, or scaly patches all over baby’s scalp, it’s likely cradle cap, and is caused by pregnancy hormones leftover in baby’s body that cause their oil glands to over-secrete.
How to treat it: Cradle cap typically clears up on its own in the weeks/months postpartum. Shampoo baby’s hair as usual and loosen the flakes with a soft brush. You can help soften the patches by applying a mild vegetable or coconut oil to the scalp, leaving on (up to overnight), and then brushing and shampooing.
Appearing as dry, patchy areas on the skin—severe cases of eczema can turn red, weepy, or crusty. Eczema in newborns can be patchy and occur on any part of the body, but older, more mobile babies can experience eczema flare-ups on joints like elbows and knees. About one in five babies develop this kind of skin condition.
How to treat it: Mild cases can often be treated by rubbing an emollient cream (like Aqauphor, Eucerin, or petroleum jelly) onto the area several times a day. But if you don’t notice an improvement talk to baby’s provider about a steroid ointment to help reduce the inflammation.
Prickly Heat Rash
When baby overheats due to hot weather or being over-dressed, blocked pores can trap sweat under the skin. This can cause tiny red bumps to appear on baby’s face, neck, back or bottom.
How to treat it: Dress baby in loose cool clothing and avoid the heat. This kind of rash improves quickly after baby’s body returns to normal temperature—you might even notice a difference within 30 minutes.
No matter what your baby may experience, you should always check in with baby’s provider if you have questions or concerns.