Babies have delicate skin that will most likely develop a rash at some stage. The more common kinds of baby rashes include nappy rash, baby acne, heat rash, and baby eczema. In this article, we explore the different rashes, and how best to treat them.
Nappy rash is very common and can happen no matter how careful you are. Some babies with the best care still frequently develop nappy rash, while others hardly get it at all, so a lot depends on how sensitive the child’s skin is.
- Best way to keep the baby’s bottom as rash-free as possible is to change nappies often so that urine and poo is not in contact with skin for too long.
- Keep a close watch on the baby’s hygiene. Wash the baby’s skin gently with water or a wet cloth. If using baby wipes, choose ones without alcohol to avoid irritation, especially when there is a rash present.
- After cleaning, put on soothing emollient cream or other nappy rash cream to keep wetness away from the skin.
- Don’t use tight-fitting plastic pants over nappies. They keep in moisture and may make things worse. And do not use powder such as talcum powder which may irritate the skin and is dangerous to your baby when inhaled.
- Make sure to leave the nappy off for a while during playtime to allow air to dry the skin, and if a baby has a nappy rash, it may be helpful to use disposable nappies which draw the urine away from the baby’s skin, keeping it dry.
- Consult your doctor if the rash hasn’t cleared up within a week, or it becomes severe.
This type of baby rash happens to babies between the ages of anywhere from two weeks old to four or five month of age. Baby acne is commonly intermittent which means you will see it come and go. The cause of baby acne has been linked to the maternal hormones which are passed on to the baby from the mother through the placenta. As a result, these hormones lead to secretion of oil in the baby’s skin causing baby acne.
- Simply leave your baby’s skin alone, and don’t introduce any skincare products. It will disappear on its own.
- Avoid pinching, squeezing, or rubbing the lumps.
- Speak to your GP or maternal and child health nurse to confirm that it is baby acne, and not another type of rash.
Heat rash is very common in newborn babies in the first weeks of life, because their sweat glands aren’t fully developed. It is a type of skin rash which can affect babies who have been overheated, either because they are overdressed or because it is simply too hot outside. As they become hot, their sweat ducts become blocked and small spots or blisters can develop.
It is also referred as ‘prickly heat’, and is the most common kind of heat rash, which can be very itchy. It appears as very small, pinkish-red spots or very small clear blisters. They can appear clustered under a child’s clothing and on the creases of their skin, such as their neck, armpits, and nappy area.
Heat rashes commonly disappear in a few days. However, the blisters can get infected with bacteria, potentially leading to a fever in your baby. There are various things you can do to relieve your child’s itching and discomfort, while avoiding infection:
- If there’s a sudden development of rash in your baby’s delicate skin, check their body temperature and change their clothing so they’ll be more comfortable.
- Move into a well ventilated or air-conditioned room, or a place away from direct sunlight if you live in a hot climate.
- Take off your baby’s clothes or dress them in cotton. Avoid thick clothing made of polyester and nylon, which traps heat; opt for cotton fibres instead. Give then as much nappy-free time as you can.
- Dry your baby’s skin after each nappy change or lukewarm bath, avoiding soap.
- Using a cool damp cloth and applying it to the affected area can help bring some relief.
- If your baby seems bothered by the itchiness, speak to your GP or pharmacist about creams that might help. They may recommend a calamine lotion or corticosteroid cream, particularly if your baby seems irritable and cries when you touch his skin.
- If you can minimise the scratching, you can reduce the risk of infection.
- Avoid ointments and other lotions since they can make the rash worse by trapping moisture in the skin.
Also known as atopic dermatitis, this type of baby rash often appears in the first year of life. Eczema is common on the the baby’s forehead, cheeks, and scalp, but it can spread to the arms, legs, chest, or other parts of the body. Eczema is not an allergic reaction to a substance. However it can be triggered by allergens in your baby’s diet or in your diet if you’re breastfeeding.
- Use mild, fragrance-free soaps and shampoos. After you get your baby out of the tub, pat their skin dry (don’t rub), then put a liberal amount of moisturiser or emollient (an ointment, cream, or lotion that “seals in” the body’s own moisture).
- Place your baby in a well ventilated room and clothe your baby in smooth cotton fabrics.
- Sudden shift in temperature can make eczema worse, so try not to let your baby get too hot and then cool quickly, or vice versa.
- Scratching and rubbing can further irritate or inflame their skin, making the condition much worse. So help your baby avoid scratching by keeping their nails short and put them to bed with cotton mittens.
- During a flare-up, you can try applying cool compresses to the area several times a day, followed by a moisturiser.
- There is no cure for eczema, but it can be managed by treating and preventing flare-ups. Read our article on baby eczema treatment and speak to your GP about the best treatment for your baby.