If there is one inevitable thing about a baby’s skin, it’s bound to be rash-prone during the first year. Babies have the most sensitive skin which makes them susceptible to all kinds of skin irritations and infections. Chemicals, fragrances, dyes in clothing, detergents and baby products can cause newborns to experience skin irritation, dryness, chafing, and rashes. Knowing what those bumps or spots on your baby’s skin are will help you to know how to proceed. Let’s take a look at some of the most common skin problems that babies face, what they are, and what action to take.
Don’t panic over prickly heat (heat rash)
Prickly heat is basically an eruption of little bumps or tiny blisters on the skin that can show up when your baby overheats. The bumps may be very visible and red especially in light-skinned babies. Children of all ages can get heat rash, but it’s most common in babies.
If your baby has prickly heat, you’ll most likely see it as little red bumps in the folds of the skin and on parts of the body where clothing fits snugly, including the chest, tummy, neck, crotch and buttocks. If you baby wears hats, the rash may spread across his scalp or forehead.
In our hot, humid weather, it’s easy for a baby to develop prickly heat, especially on sweaty days. When a baby sweats too much, the pores will clog and prickly heat develops. Babies and young children are particularly prone to heat rash because they have smaller pores than adults.
To control prickly heat, you can start by cooling your baby off. Loosen or remove baby’s clothing and move the little one into an airy room or a shady spot. You can also try placing baby on a cotton towel to help absorb excessive sweat. Apply cool, wet washcloths to the areas affected by the rash. A lukewarm bath with a little baking soda (2 teaspoons per gallon) might also help.
As much as possible, allow baby to air- dry rather than rubbing with a towel. It is not a good idea to use ointments or creams on the prickly heat as these products can make the rash worse by trapping moisture.
On hot nights, use an air conditioner or a fan in your baby’s room. If using a fan, you may direct the fan near your baby but not directly on him or her. You want your baby to be comfortable, not chilled. You can also try placing it far enough away so that a gentle, cooling breeze is felt. Keep your baby’s fingernails trimmed so that there will be minimal damage to the skin from scratching.
Baby got acne?
Baby acne, also called infantile acne, looks like a rough, red rash. It’s most common on the infant’s cheeks and nose, although it can appear anywhere on the face and back. New parents may feel worried upon discovering this red, acne-like rash on their newborn baby’s face. But baby acne is a common and harmless condition. It tends to appear within the first month or so after birth, although it can occur earlier or later. Fortunately, baby acne is fleeting, and nearly always goes away quickly and without treatment.
Like adult acne, baby acne may feature comedones, papules and possibly some small pustules. Baby acne may come and go, and tends to look worse when the baby is under stress, crying or fussing. The condition is sometimes aggravated by milk, formula, or spit-up coming in contact with the skin. Other irritants include rough fabrics or fabrics laundered in strong detergent. If your baby has acne, don’t use soap, lotion or creams on the face as this can worsen the condition.
Dealing with eczema
Eczema is quite a common skin condition and it can appear anywhere on a baby’s body starting around 3 or 4 months. What’s interesting about this condition is, it is not usually found in the diaper area. In babies it tends to show up on the cheeks and scalp, but it may spread to the arms, legs, chest, or other parts of the body. For children who are more than a year old, it’s most likely to show up on the insides of the elbows, the backs of the knees, the wrists and the ankles. However, it can also appear elsewhere. Up to 20 per cent of babies will develop this very itchy rash.
In its mildest form, eczema erupts in dry, patchy areas on the skin. It can also look like a bad case of windburn and cause the skin to turn red, ooze pus, and crust over. The rash might look like thickened, scaly skin.
Anything can be a trigger for babies prone to eczema (those with a genetic predisposition or a family history of allergies). Hot weather can cause sweating, which irritates the skin; cold weather can dry it out. Harsh soaps and clothing, especially wool, can also spark an outbreak.
Eczema typically comes and goes. It isn’t contagious, but because it’s intensely itchy, it can be very uncomfortable, and scratching can make it worse. If untreated, the rash can be unsightly, so it may present a social challenge for a young child.
Your doctor can diagnose eczema by examining your child’s skin. He may send you to a dermatologist for confirmation and treatment.
To help control eczema, wash the skin with a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser–ask your pediatrician or dermatologist for a recommendation, and then slather moisturiser onto damp skin twice a day. For more severe cases, talk to your doctor about steroid ointments, which will reduce the inflammation.
Contact dermatitis can be cornered!
Contact dermatitis refers to the skin’s reaction to something it came in contact with, from soaps and detergents to grass and other plants. It appears as red, itchy bumps at the contact site. If the rash is all over your baby’s body, then soap or detergent is probably to blame. If the chest and arms are affected, the culprit could be a new, unwashed clothing item.
Determine the irritant. Irritants can be natural or foreign. Natural irritants may be your baby’s sweat or tears. Foreign irritants could be bathing soaps, detergent or even lotions. Before you can treat your baby’s condition, you need to determine what is causing the contact dermatitis. If it is a foreign irritant, avoid further exposure to the culprit. If it is natural, talk to your doctor for medical options. Dress your baby in loose-fitting clothes that allow the skin to breathe. Heavy clothes can cause your baby to sweat, making the affected area worse. If the clothes are tight, they will rub against baby’s already sensitive skin, not only worsening the condition, but causing discomfort to your baby too.
It is important to keep the affected area well-moisturised to minimise itches. A topical skin treatment specially made to address contact dermatitis will help bring your baby’s condition under control.
What’s with this milia?
Milia are tiny white bumps that most commonly appear across a baby’s nose, chin or cheeks. It occurs as a result of dead skin becoming trapped in tiny pockets near the surface of your baby’s skin. Although milia can develop at any age, these tiny white bumps are prevalent among newborns. In fact, up to half of all babies develop milia. You can’t prevent milia, but the good news is that milia usually disappear in a few weeks.
Milia is a harmless and common condition – about 40 per cent of newborn babies get them. Some babies have just a few, and others have many of these tiny white bumps on their faces. It can be a bit disheartening to see your cute baby’s face covered in these little bumps, but they aren’t painful or contagious. And they’ll go away without any treatment in two or three weeks.
Doctors recommend that you not put any creams or ointments on the milia. Do not attempt to squeeze these pimple-like bumps to make them go away faster – that could cause scarring. Vigorous washing and scrubbing isn’t a good idea either: It won’t help and it could irritate your baby’s sensitive skin.
Intertrigo has to go!
Intertrigo is a skin condition often found in chubby babies, particularly those who find it difficult to hold up their heads. This causes the skin folds of the neck to rub against each other. Intertrigo appears as a red, raw, weepy rash that looks worse inside the skin creases. Your baby may not notice it at all or it may cause some pain, depending on the amount of skin-to-skin friction in the affected area. In some severe cases, the friction gives rise to severe rashes. The condition can generally be recognised by rashes on all areas with skin folds such as the nappy area and the underarm. Intertrigo is caused by excessive moisture from drool and spit-up that collect in your baby’s creases, which don’t get any air.
In babies, skin areas affected by the disease should be gently cleaned and patted dry. Wash out the inside of your baby’s skin folds with water and apply a zinc oxide barrier cream or petroleum jelly to protect them, While cleaning, parents or caregivers should not rub the area as it may cause further irritation. Anti-moisture creams can be effective in addressing the problem. Medicines are not recommended to be used without first consulting your doctor or health care provider. As babies get older, the condition will get better and eventually disappear completely.