As your baby grows, you may begin to notice them having rashes every now and then. Most of the time this isn’t a cause for concern. But it’s important to identify each type of rash in order to know the treatment required respectively. Today we’ll be looking at different types of baby rashes – what causes them, how to treat them, and how to prevent these rashes from appearing.
A reminder for mommies: you can use this as a guide, but don’t take it as a diagnosis. If you are concerned about your child’s rash, it’s still best to consult a pediatrician.
Types of Baby Rashes with Itching
First, we explore the types of baby rashes that come with itching:
Prickly heat looks like small, red spots on your child’s skin. This is caused by heat and sweating. You may notice your child scratching at these rashes as this type of rash is itchy. Prickly heat usually resolves itself without treatment and is one of the types of baby rashes that you don’t really have to worry about1.
In order to avoid having heat rashes, keep your child from places that are excessively hot and humid, and make sure they are wearing comfortable cotton clothing. Keep your baby hydrated as well. In cases where the rash is very itchy, you can use topical calamine lotion to help reduce the itching2.
Hives are raised, itchy red rashes that usually appear as an allergic reaction to food3. It may also be an allergic reaction to insect bites, medicine2 and other environmental factors like dust mites, pollen, and pets just to name a few.
This type of rash usually clears up after a day or two, but if you suspect it is caused by a food allergy, it’s best to consult your pediatrician. Hives are easily treated with antihistamines1.
If your baby has scaly, red, dry and itchy patches, especially behind the knees, elbows and neck, this could be eczema1. Do note, however, that this could appear in areas other than the ones mentioned.
The most common type of eczema in children is atopic eczema, which starts in childhood but can stay all the way to adulthood3. It can be treated with creams and lotions, but as with the other types of baby rashes, it’s best to consult your pediatrician for treatment options.
Types of Baby Rashes with Fever
Now we move on to the types of baby rashes that come with an additional symptom: fever.
Slapped Cheek Syndrome
If your child has a fever and bright red cheeks, this could be a sign of slapped cheek syndrome3. This can sometimes come with a cold1 and the rash can spread to the chest area with a raised, lace-like appearance, and it may be itchy at times2.
The fever can be treated with children’s paracetamol or ibuprofen, while the itching can be treated with antihistamine4. It is caused by a parvovirus B19 infection and is contagious during its incubation stage, but once the rashes appear it is no longer contagious2.
Chickenpox starts out as small red spots that turn into blisters all over your child’s body1. This is caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV) and usually resolves by itself in healthy children. And while the infection happens commonly in childhood, it can happen any time2.
This is one of the more contagious types of baby rashes, so you should keep your child away from other children until all of the blisters have scabbed over. You only need to manage the itching, which can be treated with the following5,6:
sodium bicarbonate baths
If your baby is less than 28 weeks old and contracts chickenpox, consult your pediatrician immediately2.
Pink-red rashes that look like sunburn but feel like sandpaper might be a sign of scarlet fever1. This is an infectious disease caused by group A streptococcus (GAS). The rashes are usually preceded by fever, sore throat, headache, vomiting, and malaise 12-48 hours before the rashes appear. You may also notice a heavy white coating on your child’s tongue, which goes away and leaves the tongue looking like a strawberry2.
If you suspect your child has scarlet fever, take them to the pediatrician immediately for treatment. Because it is highly contagious, you will need to treat it with antimicrobials immediately. Paracetamol can also be used to manage the other symptoms that come with the rash2.
Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD)
Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a common viral illness characterized by blistery rashes on your child’s palms and feet, as well as ulcers in their mouth3. In some instances, your child may have a fever and cold along with the rashes1.
This is one of the types of baby rashes that resolves itself after a week without treatment if your child has a healthy immune system. However, if your child has a fever, you can treat it easily with children’s paracetamol1.
Types of Baby Rashes without Itching or Fever
There are several types of baby rashes that appear on your baby’s skin that are completely natural and should clear up without being treated7:
Baby acne—red patches on the face that usually appear within a month after birth. This resolves itself over time.
Milia—tiny white spots on the face that develop when your child is born. This should clear itself up in four weeks3.
Erythema toxicum—appears in newborns as a splotchy red rash, sometimes with firm yellow or white bumps. These can stay anywhere from a few hours to several days.
Cradle cap—yellowish, greasy patches on your child’s scalp which usually resolves itself in a few weeks to a few months1.
Most of the types of baby rashes aren’t that serious, but it’s best to consult with your pediatrician to get the best treatment plan for your child.
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Dr. Raymond Choy Wai Mun
MBChB (UK), Aviation Medicine (Singapore)
- ”Rashes in babies and children.” NHS. Accessed 29 November 2020. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/rashes-babies-and-children/
- Trivedi, Ashifa. “Rashes in children.” The Pharmaceutical Journal. 13 June 2017. Accessed 29 November 2020. https://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/cpd-and-learning/learning-article/rashes-in-children/20202943.article?firstPass=false
- “Skin rashes in babies.” nidirect. Accessed 29 November 2020. https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/conditions/skin-rashes-babies
- “Slapped cheek syndrome”. NHSinform. Accessed from https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/slapped-cheek-syndrome
- “Chickenpox: Controlling the Itch”. Michigan Medicine. Accessed from https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/ue4861
- ”Chickenpox”. Mayo Clinic. Accessed from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chickenpox/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351287
- ”Skin care for babies.” Paediatr Child Health. 2007 Mar; 12(3): 245–247. Accessed from NCBI - National Institute of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2528704/