Baby skin rashes

April 16

  • baby

Baby skin rashes

By Karen McEwen

Everyone always imagines that their newborn baby’s skin will be wonderfully smooth and flawless. However, there are several different types of rashes that you could encounter on your baby’s skin, most of which are harmless. It is useful for parents to gain knowledge about different newborn skin conditions, so you can identify them and seek self help solutions or medical help if you are unsure. 

How your baby’s skin develops after birth 

Your baby’s skin can be quite sensitive to the external environment, however your baby will soon develop its own effective defence barrier and acquire a robust immune system. When your baby is born their skin is sterile and will be colonised by the bacteria that are closest to them. This is one of the reasons why skin-to-skin is so important, as your baby can gain their first colonisation of friendly bacteria from you. For the first few weeks of their life you should enable nature to develop your baby’s skin defences, which means bathing infrequently to prevent their skin being stripped of its naturally developing flora and oils. 


Types of skin rashes 



Often referred to as ‘milk spots’, milia have nothing to do with breastfeeding or milk. There is still uncertainty as to their cause, but dermatologists believe they may be due to newborns skin glands being underdeveloped and thus enabling a build-up of skin oils to occur temporarilyUp to 50% of babies develop these harmless white or yellow spots, which usually appear on their face, chin and neck. They aren’t itchy, don’t need any treatment and usually disappear quite quickly. 

Nappy rash 

Up to 50% of newborn babies will have nappy rash at some point during their nappy wearing time. It is dermatitis caused by exposure to urine and poo on delicate newborn skin and then the further abrasion of their nappy against this. Keeping your baby’s skin in tip top condition will help to protect against the occurrence and development of nappy rash. A daily skincare protection routine of regular nappy changes and the use of a barrier cream will help reduce the incidence of nappy rashes. 


This is a red/purple rash which can occur anywhere on your baby’s body. If you roll a clear glass over it, the colour remainsIf you notice a rash like this, or have any suspicions that it resembles this description, seek urgent medical attention. Meningitis can lead to very serious complications. 

Erythema toxicum 

These are usually patches of red spots that are flat with a raised white or cream coloured head in the centre. They occur from birth to 14 days in up to 70% of babies, are harmless and go away by themselves without needing any treatment. The cause isn’t known but it is though to be your baby adapting to life outside of the womb. 


This can appear anywhere on the body but is common around the knee and elbow joints and behind the ears. Eczema can present as small flaky patches to big flareups that are open and sore. It can be very itchy, and your child may scratch their eczema which can cause infections. Eczema is best treated with a soothing, unperfumed moisturiser to help relieve the itchy feeling and if there is no improvement you can ask for advice from your health visitor or GP. 

Baby acne 

This looks like small whiteheads with redness surrounding them. A possible trigger could be mum’s hormones still in baby’s system from being in the womb, but again the experts are not certain of the cause. It is not caused by dirt or lack of cleaning. It can affect up to 20% of babies, usually disappears after 2 months but can occasionally last up to 2 years. 



Skin rashes on your baby are generally harmless, however it is better to have a good understanding of them, so you can recognise when you are able to self-treat these and when medical attention is required.  

Click here for more information on keeping your newborn baby's skin healthy