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Baby Skin Conditions

Ann E. Butenas


Before the skinned knees and elbows,
some other skin conditions.

Having a newborn baby is an exciting experience. There is so much love and joy to share. They always seem to smell so good, and their skin is always so smooth and soft. But what do you do when you discover there are some rashes, bumps, spots, or other unusual conditions on your baby's skin? The first, and obvious, instinct would be to call your pediatrician, as he or she is the best source for determining what has affected your baby and how to treat it. However, Vincent Iannelli, M.D., F.A.A.P., board certified pediatrician in Dallas, Texas and President of , has provided some helpful information regarding various skin conditions that may affect your baby and what you can do to treat them. Aside from certain serious skin conditions, Dr. Iannelli noted that most of the skin conditions explained here are normal, and do not need treatment. Skin Rashes are Common

Typically seen in newborns are rashes on the skin. "Rashes are very common in newborns and include neonatal acne, drooling rashes, and flaky skin that will usually clear up on their own without treatment," said Dr. Iannelli. In addition to the common rash, there are many other types of skin conditions that could possibly affect your baby. According to Dr. Iannelli, the following are representative of certain skin conditions seen in newborns:

*Acrocyanosis: a bluish discoloration of a newborns hands and feet. This is normal when your baby is cold or crying, and if the rest of your baby's skin is pink.

*Epstein's pearls: small white cysts or bumps on the roof of your newborn's mouth that will go away without treatment.

*Erythema toxicum: a common rash that begins in the first few days after birth and is characterized by small blotchy red areas with a raised yellow or white center. There may be quite a few lesions, especially on the trunk, and they will continue to pop up during the first week to ten days of life and will then go away without treatment in the next 5-7 days.

*Forceps marks: marks from the forceps or bruises, which will heal on their own.

*Miliaria (heat rash or prickly heat): there are two forms of miliaria: miliaria crystallina, which consists of small clear fluid filled vesicles that rupture and leave behind some scale; and miliaria rubra, which have similar clear fluid filled vesicles, but they are surrounded by red areas. Miliaria is most common on the head, neck, upper chest and in skin folds and is due to blockage of the sweat ducts in the skin. It will resolve on its own, but can be prevented by reducing heat and humidity and not dressing your newborn in tight clothing.

*Milia: small white or yellow pinpoint sized spots on your newborn's nose and chin. They are caused by small sebaceous retention cysts and will clear up in a few weeks without treatment.

*Neonatal acne: this is a rash that looks like acne in older children and it is thought to be caused by hormonal stimulation. It usually begins between two to four weeks of age and resolves on its own over the next few months. Severe cases may need to be treated with 2.5% benzoyl peroxide or other keratolytic creams.

*Sebaceous gland hyperplasia: multiple tiny yellow or flesh colored papules on the nose and cheeks of newborns. It is thought to be from maternal hormonal stimulation of the sweat glands and will resolve on its own in the first month of life.

*Seborrheic dermatitis: causes greasy scales and patchy redness on the scalp (cradle cap), face, behind the ears and in skin folds. Most children clear up without treatment in three to four weeks, but more severe or persistent forms can be treated with and antiseborrheic shampoo or a topical steroid cream.

*Transient neonatal pustular melanosis: causes tiny 1-2mm pustules to occur on the face, neck, extremities, palms and soles. These pustules are present at birth, and can have some scale around them, but they are not red or inflamed. The pustules rupture in the first few days of life, and leave behind flat dark areas that resemble freckles. These areas will fade in three weeks to three months without treatment. Treatments

The pediatrician typically makes diagnosis of skin conditions in accordance with the timing and appearance of the rash. For instance, erythema toxicum is common rash that begins in the first few days after birth and is characterized by small blotchy red areas with a raised yellow or white center. In contrast, neonatal acne, as Dr. Iannelli explains, looks like acne found in older children and it is thought to be caused by hormonal stimulation. This usually does not present itself until two to four weeks of age.

Parents should be advised, however, that there are some skin conditions that can be very harmful to a baby. Dr. Iannelli noted, "Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a common virus that can cause cold sores and fever blisters, gingivostomatitis (mouth ulcers), genital ulcers and other skin infections. It can also cause serious infections in newborns such as encephalitis, which is an infection of the brain."

Further, Dr. Iannelli explained, "Neonatal herpes infections can cause an infection just on the skin, eyes and mouth (SEM disease), or it may spread to the central nervous system (CNS disease, including encephalitis), or become disseminated to other parts of the body (usually the liver and the lungs)."

"Herpes infections of the skin, eyes and mouth are the most easy to recognize, and usually begin in the first few weeks of life with a vesicular rash on an erythematous (red) base, typically on areas of skin trauma, such as the site of a scalp electrode. Central nervous system infections usually present in the second or third week of life with fever, irritability, focal or generalized seizures, and they sometimes also have skin lesions. Disseminated herpes infections are usually more serious, but fortunately less common than the other types of neonatal infections, and typically occur in the first week of life, with symptoms including fever, difficulty breathing, seizures, lethargy, and irritability," said Dr. Iannelli.

For more information on baby skin conditions or any other health-related item on your child, be sure to visit Dr. Iannelli at

About the Author: Ann E Butenas is a contributing writer for Baby Corner and a stay-at-home mom of three preschool-age boys. She has an undergraduate degree in Communications, a post-bachelor paralegal certificate, and a Master's in Business Management. She earned the latter during her first two pregnancies while running an at-home business at the same time. She has been professionally published as a writer since the age of 12. Ann currently owns and operates ANZ Publications, a publications business specializing in family-oriented projects. Visit the site at

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