Newborns Often Develop Strange Rashes

Newborn babies are strange enough as it is to most new parents. To add to the strangeness, they sometimes are born with or develop strange rashes.

The most serious newborn rash is fortunately one of the rarest – herpes simplex, which consists of several water blisters or pimples clustered together.

Developing within the first four weeks after birth, herpes simplex resembles fever blisters that adults get on their lips.

Call your healthcare provider if you suspect your newborn has this rash.

Erythema toxicum is a harmless rash that occurs in at least half of all newborns by 2 to 3 days of age.

This rash consists of red blotches with small central white or yellow spots resembling pimples that last about two weeks.

When clustered, they can easily be mistaken by parents for herpes simplex.

Milia are tiny white bumps resembling little whiteheads. They are most common on the nose and cheeks but can occur anywhere.

About 40% of babies develop milia by 4 or 5 days of age. The bumps usually go away in one or two months.

Miliaria rubra (heat rash) consists of little red bumps, possibly with a little clear fluid in their centers.

They are caused by sweat gland obstruction in areas of the body that have been overheated.

The bumps can last from hours to days. Treat them by undressing and cooling off the affected areas.

Neonatal pustular melanosis occurs in 5% of African-American newborns and less than 1% of Caucasians.

The rash – sometimes present at birth – consists of small pustules with no surrounding redness that will pop, leaving behind a darkly pigmented spot with a surrounding scale.

The spots gradually fade after three to four weeks.

Acne neonatorum occurs in up to 30% of newborns. It looks just like teen acne and is triggered by hormones (usually the mother’s).

It often starts at 3-5 weeks of age and clears up by 4 months of age.

Seborrhea is a common condition in newborns, consisting of a red rash with greasy yellow scales.

The rash is most commonly found on the scalp (“cradle cap”), face, ears, neck and diaper area.

Usually starting in the first month of life, it is often gone by 6 months of age. Its exact cause is unknown.

Most newborn rashes are benign and go away on their own.

If in doubt about a rash, call your baby’s healthcare provider.