Seeing a rash on your baby’s soft, unblemished skin may be frightening, but rashes on babies are actually quite common. In fact, most are harmless, according to WebMD. Still, while most rashes are caused by mild skin irritants, there are some rashes that may signify a more serious problem. In those cases, it is important to call a doctor to get a professional opinion on what may be causing your baby’s rash.
Causes of a Rash on a Baby
Skin irritants are a major cause of many rashes. The irritation from a diaper, especially if a soiled diaper is left on a baby for a long period of time, can cause a rash. Food allergies can cause rashes in babies as well. Mild food allergies may show up as a particularly bad diaper rash. More severe food allergies may present as large welts or hives. Oils in the skin also cause rashes. For example, baby acne is caused by oil buildup in a newborn’s skin, as is cradle cap and milia. The oil is a result of the mother’s hormones fluctuating wildly during pregnancy. Eczema is a specific rash that occurs in response to an allergy. Many children are genetically predisposed to eczema, according to AskDrSears.com. Some rashes occur when a baby overheats, or when they fall ill with a virus.
Location and Types
Rashes can appear anywhere on your baby’s body, but they are most commonly seen in the diaper area, according to AskDrSears.com. Cradle cap is another common rash seen in infants. This rash affects the scalp. Hives usually affect the chest, trunk and back. Eczema most often appears behind the knees in babies, and in the inner elbows. Milia appears on the face.
Rashes can appear quite dramatic or they may be hardly noticeable. Milia and baby acne present as small bumps on the baby’s face. Milia has smaller, whiter bumps, while baby acne can be larger, red bumps and may even have whiteheads. Cradle cap appears as white, crusty, oily patches on a baby’s scalp. Hives are angry red, raised patches. Diaper rashes can be mildly red, or they may be bright red and even bleeding. Eczema presents as dry, cracked or flaking skin.
Most rashes are not serious and will fade with time, but it is always best to call a doctor if you are worried about your baby. Any rash that lingers for over four weeks is best examined by a doctor. There is one rash that necessitates immediate medical care. This rash is called petechiae. Sometimes it is called purpura, but these two terms only illustrate the difference in appearance of the same rash. This rash is composed of very small, red or purple dots. When you press on the dots, they do not turn white. Petechiae is caused by ruptured blood vessels under the skin. Sometimes they occur in the neck and head area when your child has a bad cough. In this case, this rash is not serious, according to AskDrSears.com. If they appear in other areas of your baby’s body, however, it is important to get immediate medical care.
Rashes often reoccur. For that reason, it’s best to monitor your child carefully to determine what is triggering the rash. In many instances, you can eliminate the problem by getting rid of the trigger. If your baby gets a bad diaper rash every time she eats strawberries, for example, you might want to hold off on giving her berries for a few months. If she gets a rash after taking a bath with a particular brand of soap, try switching to sometime more mild. Rough clothing and harsh detergents can even cause rashes on a baby’s delicate skin.