It is such an indescribable feeling to hold your baby – to tend to him, care for him, cuddle him and just nurture him. In fact, as a new mom, I was massaging my son almost all the time. It felt so good to touch his soft and delicate skin. And then one day I went into panic mode when I saw a couple of red marks on his back! I was hyperventilating until the doctor assuaged my fears to tell me that it was nothing but an allergy to a particular synthetic t-shirt. And that is when I realized that baby skin rash can be due to a variety of reasons.
But it is better to be safe and therefore important know if the baby rash, if it’s contagious, or if it needs medical attention.
Baby Skin Rash Guide – Three Types of Rashes in Babies:
- Infectious, caused by virus, bacteria, fungus
- Allergic, caused by contact allergy or food/medication allergy
- Baby’s lifestyle, caused by hormone shifts after birth or baby’s lifestyle
While some of these could be because of a serious disease that needs careful medical attention, some can be treated at home as well. Follow this guide to figure out the problem:
Baby Skin Rash Guide – 11 Skin Types To Identify From:
1. Diaper Rash
This is the most common type of rash that afflicts babies. Flat, red patches of skin on the diaper area caused by urine or poop irritating the skin, or if the diaper is tied in an improper way. Some diaper rashes are also caused by food sensitivity/allergies. If the skin gets too raw and opens, the baby is then susceptible to more serious rashes. To treat this, air out the area so it can get completely dry (let the baby have diaper-free time on a towel) and then use diaper cream at every diaper change. You may seek your pediatrician’s help when buying topical ointments.
2. Heat Rash
Baby sweat glands aren’t as developed as bigger kids and adults and they can get clogged so on a hot/humid day you may see tiny, red bumps, called prickly heat, on your baby. Prickly heat usually happens on the face, folds of the neck, and back or chest. The naked time or loose, cool clothing is the way to go. Sit baby in front of a fan to cool down.
3. Insect Bites
Mosquitoes, fleas, bed bugs, etc. often bite a baby’s soft skin and cause redness. While this usually goes away on its own after a few days, applying Lacto Calamine or rose water can help.
4. Baby Acne
Babies get acne too – mine had a lot. It usually appears on the cheeks, nose, and forehead, but can also be on the chest and neck. They show up when the baby is around 3 or 4 weeks old and hang around for about a month. This usually happens to all babies after a month of birth because her skin and the oil glands on her skin have been exposed to hormones that crossed the placenta while she was in your womb. These are not a cause for concern as they do go away within a month or so. If they really do bother you, boil some neem leaves and add the residue to your baby’s bathwater.
5. Coxsackie Rash (Hand, Foot, and Mouth)
The virus for these very painful ulcers in the back of the mouth, as well as painful sores on the palms and soles of the feet usually affects the summers or humidity. Fever usually accompanies the rash, so the baby will be rather cranky. But since there is no treatment, just be patient with yourself and the baby by keeping him comfortable. You may bathe him with a bit of neem and apply aloe vera to soothe the irritation. This kind of rash is contagious via respiratory secretions and stool-oral transmission, so lots of hand-washing for you after diaper changes!
6. Lyme Rash
Lyme is a bacterial infection spread by the bite of an infected tick. If one finds its way onto your baby and sinks in for a meal, your baby can contract Lyme Disease. Only 8-10% of people who get a black-legged tick (or deer tick) bite end up getting Lyme Disease, probably because a tick has to be embedded for 24-36 hours before the bacteria is transferred. The Lyme rash typically looks like a big bullseye but can also just be a big, round expanding rash at the bite site and it usually shows up 1-2 weeks after a bite. This is more common in households where there are pets – especially dogs. Do a regular check on your baby’s skin, and a check after outdoor activity.
Even though most babies are protected with a measles vaccine, it is a scary thought. Symptoms begin roughly 10 days after exposure. An infected infant will have severe cold symptoms and a high fever for a week or so days, during which the baby develops white spots with a bright red background inside the mouth. The spots start inside the cheek and then spread to the lower lip. Then over 3 days, a red body rash becomes evident, starting at the ears and hairline and then spreading to the face, torso, arms, and legs. Do go for regular pediatrician check-ups to prevent secondary complications. Measles is very contagious and can be spread via direct touch and droplets (sneeze/cough/exhale), so keep other children away.
Rubella is a mild illness for babies. (It’s a bigger risk for pregnant women.) Symptoms are a runny nose, swollen glands, and a red, raised rash that starts on the face and spreads down from there. Some people get only one or none of these symptoms. Just keep the baby comfortable, asides from following doctor’s instructions. Rubella is extremely contagious if you aren’t immune. An infected person is contagious for up to two weeks before developing symptoms and almost a week after symptoms appear. Rubella is spread through direct contact, droplets, and airborne transmission.
Typically babies under 1-year-old whose mothers are immune do not contract chickenpox. Infected kids feel tired and get a fever, then they break out in a whole-body rash of fluid-filled, itchy blisters that pop up in clusters. An average person gets 350 blisters! Though the blisters are VERY itchy, the illness itself is pretty mild. The danger lies in secondary complications of chickenpox, as the open blisters are inviting to bacterial infections, such as impetigo and strep. Neem leaf baths or topical lotions (like Calamine) can help reduce the itching. Chickenpox is contagious, spread by respiratory droplets and the fluid inside the skin lesions. People are contagious 24 hours before the rash appears and continue to be contagious until the blisters scab.
Eczema is a broad term to describe dry, itchy, scaly skin patches. Eczema crops up in babies with sensitive skin—their skin becomes irritated, they scratch, and then the rash appears. Eczema also frequently occurs as a reaction to an irritant (such as soap or laundry detergent) or as a reaction to a food allergy.
The first step is to remove any possible trigger, such as the food or irritant that you think is causing the rash. After that, keeping the skin from getting too dry and itchy is key. Give frequent, but short, warm baths with a small amount of moisturizing soap and apply a thin, greasy cream (there are many marketed to treat eczema) the second your baby gets out of the tub, to lock in the moisture. You can also apply a 1% hydrocortisone cream(under prescription only, of course) to reduce flare-ups. Avoid antibacterial soap and bubble bath—both of which can aggravate eczema.
This is the same common fungus that causes athlete’s foot, but when you find it on your baby’s skin it’s called ringworm. No, there is no worm involved. It’s a dry, raised, round patch of skin that can be a little itchy. Once the pediatrician confirms that the rash is ringworm, it can be treated with a topical anti-fungal cream. Change the baby’s bed linen every day. Ringworm is contagious via direct contact with others who have it, even pets!
Babies can be very sensitive to perfumes and harsh detergents. Use a gentle unscented detergent when washing the infant’s clothes and bedding. Doing so will help prevent allergies or sensitivities.
by Aarti Kapur Singh
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