What are the most common skin conditions in newborns?
It's very common for newborns to have rashes or other skin problems. Some
of them have long names that are hard to say and sound scary. But most will go
away on their own in a few days or weeks.
Here are some of the
things you may notice about your baby's skin.
It looks like pimples.
Babies often get pimples on their cheeks,
noses, and foreheads. This baby acne may show up during the first few weeks of
life and usually clears up on its own within a few months. Baby acne has
nothing to do with whether your child will have
acne problems as a teenager.
spots very often appear on a newborn's face during the first week. The
spots are called milia (say "MIL-ee-uh"). Sometimes white spots appear on the
gums and the roof of the mouth (palate), where they are called Epstein pearls. The white spots go away
by themselves in a few weeks and aren't harmful.
The baby's skin looks blotchy.
During the first day or two of life, many
babies get harmless red blotches with tiny bumps that sometimes contain pus.
This is called erythema toxicum (say "air-uh-THEE-mah TOK-sik-um"). It may
appear on only part of the body or on most of the body. The blotchy areas may
come and go, but they will usually go away on their own within a week.
A rash called pustular melanosis (say "PUS-chuh-ler
mel-uh-NOH-sis") is common among black infants. The rash is harmless and
doesn't need treatment. It causes pus-filled pimples that may break open and
form dark spots surrounded by loose skin. Babies are born with it, and it
usually goes away after the first few days of life. Sometimes dark spots may
last for a few weeks or months.
When cold, your newborn may get a blotchy,
lacy rash (mottling) on the limbs and torso. Remove your baby from the
cold source, and the rash will usually go away. Mottling usually doesn't occur
past 6 months of age.
The baby has a rash.
Babies can get
heat rash, sometimes called prickly heat, when they are dressed too warmly or
when the weather is very hot. This is a red or pink rash usually found on the
body areas covered by clothing. It often itches and makes your baby
uncomfortable. Doctors call this rash miliaria (say "mil-ee-AIR-ee-uh"). To
help the rash go away, remove your baby from the warm setting. Dress your child
in light, loose clothing and give him or her a cool bath. For more information,
see the topic
Diaper rash is
red and sore skin on a baby's bottom or genitals that is caused by wearing a
wet diaper for a long time. Urine and stool can irritate the skin. Diaper rash
can happen when babies sleep for many hours without waking. Sometimes
an infection from bacteria or yeast can cause a diaper rash. If your baby has
diaper rash, take extra care to keep him or her as dry as possible. For more information, see the
Many babies have a rash off and on around the mouth or on
the chin. It's caused by drooling and spitting up. Clean your baby's face
often, especially after he or she eats or spits up. For more information, see
The baby sometimes has tiny red dots on the skin.
You may notice tiny red dots on your
newborn's skin. These red dots are called petechiae (say
"puh-TEE-kee-eye"). These are specks of blood that have leaked into the skin.
They are caused by the trauma of being squeezed through the birth canal. They
will disappear within the first week or two.
The baby's scalp is scaly.
Many babies get what is called
cradle cap. This scaly or crusty skin on the top of the baby's head is a normal
buildup of sticky skin oils, scales, and dead skin cells. Unlike some other
rashes, cradle cap can be treated at home with shampoo or mineral oil. Cradle
cap usually goes away by age 1 year. For more information, see the topic
What are the common birthmarks?
Birthmarks come in different sizes, shapes, and
colors. Some are flat and some form a raised area on the skin. Most are
harmless and need no treatment. They often fade or disappear as a child grows
Salmon patches, also
called stork bites or angel kisses, are flat, pink patches that occur mainly on
the back of the neck, the upper eyelids, the upper lip, or between the
eyebrows. Most go away by age 2 years, although patches on the back of the neck
usually last into adulthood.
Moles are brown bumps that can occur anywhere on the
Café-au-lait spots are flat, brown
birthmarks that are usually oval in shape. They may get bigger and darker, and
your baby may get more of them throughout childhood.
Mongolian spots are smooth, flat, blue or blue-gray
birthmarks, usually on the lower back and buttocks. They often look like
bruises. They are very common among darker-skinned newborns. They usually fade by school age, but they may
never disappear entirely.
Port-wine stains are pink-red at birth and then become a darker red-purple color.
These birthmarks are formed by blood vessels that did not develop
properly. They can be large. Light port-wine stains may fade, but about half
get bigger as the child grows. Sometimes they get thicker and darker.
Hemangiomas (say "hee-man-jee-OH-muhs")
are raised, blue, red, or purple birthmarks formed by a clump of blood vessels
that can be any size or shape. Most of them grow for about a year, then turn
white and start shrinking.
Many newborn babies have a
yellow tint to their skin and the whites of their eyes. This is called
jaundice. In newborns, jaundice usually goes away on
its own within a week and does not need treatment. But in rare cases, jaundice gets worse and can cause brain damage. That is
why it is important to call your doctor if you notice signs that jaundice is
getting worse. If you think that your baby's skin or eyes are getting more
yellow, or if your baby is more tired or is not acting normally, call your
doctor. For more information, see the topic
Jaundice in Newborns.
When should you call a doctor?
Always call a doctor
if you have any concerns, if your baby is not acting normally, or if the skin
shows signs of being infected. The signs can include:
Increased pain, swelling, or warmth in the
Red streaks extending from the
Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, or
100.4°F (38°C) or
An extra fussy baby.
When to call a doctor
Call your doctor
The rash isn't better after 2 or 3
days. Your baby may have a yeast diaper rash.
The birthmark bleeds or grows
Your baby has a rash with blisters.
Your baby's yellow tint gets brighter
or deeper, or it hasn't decreased by your baby's 5th day of
Your baby seems very sleepy, is not eating well, or does not
Your baby does not pass 1 or 2 stools or wet 2
diapers in 24 hours, or your baby shows signs of dehydration, such as
strong-smelling urine with a dark yellow color.
Your baby has a
rectal temperature that is less than
97.8°F (36.6°C) or is
100.4°F (38°C) or higher. Call
if you cannot take your baby's temperature but he or she seems
Your baby has any new symptoms or does not get better as
If you have concerns about what lotions or other
products to use on your baby's skin, talk with your baby's doctor at the next
visit. Not all newborn skin conditions need to be treated with lotions and
creams. You don't usually need to use lotions and other products on healthy
Other Places To Get Help
American Academy of Pediatrics
141 Northwest Point Boulevard
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007-1098
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers a
variety of educational materials about parenting,
general growth and development, immunizations, safety, disease prevention, and more. AAP guidelines for various conditions and links to other
organizations are also available.
KidsHealth for Parents, Children, and
Nemours Home Office
10140 Centurion Parkway
Jacksonville, FL 32256
This website is sponsored by the Nemours Foundation. It
has a wide range of information about children's health—from allergies and
diseases to normal growth and development (birth to adolescence). This website
offers separate areas for kids, teens, and parents, each providing
age-appropriate information that the child or parent can understand. You can
sign up to get weekly emails about your area of interest.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.