Baby Blemishes

What is infant acne?
Neonatal acne is the acne that typically appears in the first few weeks of life. It is very common and it's caused in the same way that teenage acne is caused: by hormones. It's caused by male hormones called androgens, which are actually quite high in both male and female babies at around the time of delivery, and then tend to diminish over time. As those hormone levels decline, as they should, the acne tends to disappear. If the acne seems to be lasting longer or is particularly severe, meaning that somebody's seeing lots of red bumps or scars, then you'd want to talk to your provider.

What is erythema toxicum?
Erythema toxicum is a common skin rash and not a cause for any concern. It typically shows up in the first few days of life as little red blotches on the skin, and in the middle of the red blotch there can be a little bump. No one knows why this rash happens but it's absolutely harmless, it tends to go away in several days, and no treatment is needed.

What is prickly heat?
Heat rash often is called prickly heat but its technical name is miliaria. Nobody really understands exactly why babies have heat rashes, except that the sweat glands in the skin seem to become blocked up. You then get a little leak of the sweat outside of the duct, and that creates irritation or inflammation that results in a tiny red spot or bump about a millimeter or so in size.

Those spots tend to appear in areas where there are skin folds such as in the folds of the neck. They are more likely to happen if a baby becomes overheated. So heat rashes can occur in the summer months in warm climates, or if a baby is a bit too heavily dressed for the surrounding temperature. Sometimes heat rashes can be made worse if parents are applying thick moisturizers or other products.

Once a heat rash is established, if you have a fan or you have the option of air conditioning that may help both the condition disappear and prevent it from returning. It also helps to not overly dress infants. Remember that most infants are going to feel comfortable dressed in a way that you or I would feel comfortable.

What is diaper rash?
Diaper rash is very common, though much less so now that most people use disposable diapers. The things that cause diaper rash are moisture, typically from urine, coupled with rubbing of the diaper on the skin. When your skin is moist over long periods of time, its ability to withstand the forces of friction from the diaper is reduced. You add to that the effects of enzymes that are present in stool that act as irritating factors on the skin, and diaper rash may occur.

To prevent diaper rash, so make sure that you change the diaper when necessary, and if you need to, gently cleanse the area either with a hypoallergenic wipe or tap water on a soft wash cloth, and then pat the area dry and apply a new diaper.

If a diaper rash becomes established, usually it's going to be caused by irritation, so parents should apply some sort of a barrier preparation that's designed to keep moisture away from the skin. Everyone has their favorite preparation. Many people favor products that contain zinc oxide because they create a more or less impenetrable barrier for moisture. Other products such as A+D ointment and Desitin are also designed to create a barrier on the skin against moisture and help the skin heal.

Some pediatricians will prescribe a barrier preparation, but most are available over-the-counter.

Can babies get yeast infections on their skin?
If what parents thought was just an irritation diaper rash isn't going away after several days of treatment, it might be worth talking to your provider, because a yeast infection may have developed. The tip-off to a yeast infection is that usually it's fairly bright red in color, and it involves the areas of the skin creases as well as the thighs and the lower tummy, whereas a typical irritation rash usually doesn't involve the creases. In yeast infections, you might also see some bright red bumps that look like pimples a little bit beyond the main area of involvement.