Common baby skin conditions and how to manage them
Newborn babies can be prone to all kinds of bumps, rashes and spots. Don’t worry - most baby skin conditions are harmless and with our help, you can treat or avoid them quite easily.
To set your mind at ease, we’ve prepared a list of the most common skin conditions in babies, including information on what they look like and what causes them, as well as advice on how to treat them.
Common baby skin conditions:
Baby acne looks like adolescent acne - reddish bumps or pimples, usually on your baby’s face. These pimples can develop into little pustules or whiteheads.
The most likely cause of baby acne is hormones that are still circulating in your baby’s bloodstream (and may continue to do so for up to six months). This is nothing to worry about and, like adolescent acne, will clear up in time.
How to get rid of baby acne
Although a temporary condition, you can help protect your baby’s skin and avoid further flare-ups by taking the following steps:
- Keep the skin clean. Gently cleanse your baby’s skin using mild products like Huggies® Baby Wipes - made with with at least 65% skin-loving natural fibres from wood pulp and safe to use on newborn skin.
- Dry gently. Even the mildest cleansing can sensitise your baby’s skin. Use a soft towel and dry with a gentle, patting motion.
- Don’t squeeze or scrub the pimples. This is only likely to aggravate the condition.
- Avoid lotions and oils. These can also cause irritable reactions in newborn skin.
This looks like crusty yellow scales or dandruff-like flakes on your baby’s head.
This common baby skin condition is caused when sebaceous glands trap old skin cells on top of your baby’s head.
Cradle cap is a temporary condition, lasting for up to a year. It is harmless and will eventually recede quite naturally.
How to get rid of cradle cap
Despite its appearance, cradle cap is harmless to babies but you can take the following steps to make it better:
- Wash your baby's hair regularly. Never use soap or adult shampoo. Instead, use a mild baby shampoo and a soft brush to gently loosen flakes.
- Soften crusts by gently rubbing with a mild oil.Use a gentle, natural oil (eg: olive) and avoid nut oils - in case of allergies.
- Do not pick crusts. This is likely to cause infection and irritation.
Dry or peeling skin
Newborn (and especially premature) babies have extremely delicate skin. If not kept properly hydrated, their skin can peel away in dry white flakes.
How to treat baby dry skin conditions
These simple steps can help you address this common baby skin condition:
- Bathe your baby with plain water for the first month. Reducing time in the bath can also help prevent dehydration. If you need soap, use only the mildest, baby soap.
- Avoid lotions or medicated wipes. If you feel your baby would benefit from a moisturiser, make sure you choose one that is hypoallergenic and approved by the British Skin Foundation. And for gentle cleansing between bathtimes, Huggies® Pure Extra Care Wipes, made with 99% pure water are our thickest, most caring wipe.
What does nappy rash look like? In most cases, it appears as red patches on your baby’s bottom or the entire nappy area. This can develop into pimples or blisters and, in extreme cases, can make your baby feel sore and uncomfortable.
As the name suggests, nappy rash is caused by prolonged contact with wee or poo, combined with the effect of your baby’s nappy rubbing against their skin. Not cleaning or changing their nappy often enough can make nappy rash worse, as can medicated wipes, soap and bubble bath.
How to treat nappy rash
This is one of the most common of all baby skin conditions. You can treat or prevent it by taking the following steps:
- Change wet or dirty nappies immediately.
- Clean gently but thoroughly wiping from front to back. Use only gentle products like Huggies® Baby Wipes or water.
- Let fresh air get to their skin. Let your baby lie on a towel with their nappy off for as long and often as possible.
- Avoid soap, bubble bath, lotions and talc. These can cause irritation which will make your baby’s nappy rash worse.
- Use a nappy rash cream. Your health visitor or pharmacist will be able to recommend one.
Atopic eczema is common in babies and often develops before their first birthday. Dry patches appear red on lighter skin and darker brown, purple or grey on darker skin.
Flare-ups commonly occur inside the elbows, on the backs of knees and on the face and scalp.
There is no single cause for eczema; however it seems to have a direct link to allergies, often occurring in families with a history of asthma and hayfever. Eczema can be triggered by a variety of factors, including soaps, detergents, stress, the weather and sensitivities to certain foods.
How to treat eczema
Although most babies grow out of eczema, there is no simple cure for those who have it. Most cases can be managed effectively with the following steps:
- Avoid triggers.
- Your health visitor can advise on how to bathe a baby with eczema. Generally speaking, you should keep the water temperature below 37 degrees, avoid soap and bubble bath and keep bath times short (to avoid dehydrating their skin). Cuddle them dry as gently as you can using a soft, clean towel.
- Between baths, clean the skin as gently as possible. Huggies® Pure Extra Care Wipes, made with 99% pure water, are our our thickest, most caring wipe and suitable for the most sensitive skin from day one.
- Choose baby clothes in soft, fine weave natural fabrics.
- Control the temperature in your home and baby’s bedroom to prevent overheating.
- Prevent scratching. Anti-scratch mittens can keep babies from aggravating their eczema at night. Keeping their little nails short will also help.
- Use an emollient cream. Ask your health visitor or pharmacist to recommend an emollient to moisturise and protect your baby’s skin. In many cases this will help to prevent further flare-ups. If symptoms persist you should consult your GP.
Birthmarks are common and can appear as a red blotch or a darker patch on your baby’s skin.
Strawberry marks (or infantile haemangioma) are slightly raised, reddish patches. These are also quite common, appearing a few days after birth.
Most birthmarks are completely harmless and many fade over time.
How to treat birthmarks
Most birthmarks do not need treatment; however, if you’re worried about your baby’s birthmark and how it may affect their health, ask your GP for advice on further courses of action.
Heat and sweat irritation can cause babies’ skin to come up in red bumps, commonly known as heat rash.
How to treat heat rash
This is a temporary condition and will fade quickly; however, you can help soothe it.
- Give your baby a cool bath. This will often be enough to soothe a heat rash.
- Dry them gently. Pat dry using a soft, clean towel.
- Keep their skin cool. Choose light cotton clothes and use lightweight bedding.
Finally, don’t worry!
Newborn babies are such precious delicate things, it’s easy as a parent to worry about them. Remember though, most baby skin conditions are quite harmless and your child will grow out of them in time. We hope the advice on this page helps you to understand and care for your baby's delicate skin as gently as they deserve. To find out more about our skin-loving, British Skin Foundation approved wipes explore the Huggies® Baby Wipes product page.
Other useful resources for baby skincare conditions