The skin of newborns, unlike adults, is thin and has less hair and sweat glands. The newborn skin is protected by vernix, a white greasy substance, which provides lubrication and has antibacterial effects. But the fact that newborns are exposed to numerous germs, mechanical trauma and weather changes, there is an increased risk of skin problems. So in this article, we will discuss some of the skin problems commonly seen in kids and what parents can do about it.
1. Diaper rash
Also known as diaper dermatitis, diaper rash is caused due to soiled diapers which irritate the baby’s skin making it red and itchy. It can also lead to a bacterial (commonly caused by Staphylococci and Streptococci) or fungal/yeast (commonly caused by Candida) infection, which occurs around the genitals and buttocks. This causes red spots or large patches of red skin in the diaper area.
Tips: Ensure you change the diaper frequently, clean the area and dry it everytime you change a diaper. Also, allow the skin to dry naturally by keeping the diaper off for some time. Consult a doctor if the skin rash doesn’t heal in a day or two because it could be due to an infection. Your doctor may prescribe an antibacterial or antifungal cream to fight the infection.
2. Heat rash
Another common skin problem that can affect kids is heat rash. It occurs especially when the baby’s body overheats. It manifests as little bumps on the skin, which may appear red in color. These are usually seen in the folds of the skin such as the neck, buttocks, and crotch or on the parts where the clothing fits snugly such as the chest, stomach, and back. Although these are commonly seen during the summer and humid weather, it can also occur during winter (due to friction caused by many layers of clothes) or due to synthetic clothing coming in direct contact with the skin.
Tips: One of the best ways to prevent and relieve heat rash is to remove excess clothing if any. Also, dress your baby in loose-fitting cotton clothes, to keep him/her cool in summers and humid weather.
3. Baby Acne
Just like adult acne, baby acne appears as a red, pimply rash on the face. This skin problem usually presents within the first 30 days of life and disappears over time. It can develop on the nose and cheeks and can occur as open pores, which can be inflammatory in nature. In some cases, it can lead to lesions, which usually fade away within 1-3 months.
Tips: As it goes off naturally, treatment is usually not recommended. But if you are in doubt, you can ask your doctor about lotions that can help.
It is a skin condition that causes dry, scaly skin with tiny red bumps which can blister, ooze or become infected if scratched. Generally, it appears on the forehead, cheeks, or scalp, however, it can spread to other parts of the body such as arms, legs, and chest. In most cases, it occurs in babies who have a family history of eczema or allergy.
Tips: Eczema mostly goes away or fades off on its own. To control the condition, you can avoid frequent baths, keep your baby’s skin moisturized and prevent drying of the skin. You can dress up the baby in cotton clothes. If the rash fails to subside and causes discomfort, consult a dermatologist.
4. Contact dermatitis
As the name suggests, contact dermatitis is a skin problem that causes inflammation and irritation of the skin when it comes in contact with an allergen. For example, if your baby is allergic to metals and the skin comes in contact with the metallic buttons on shirts, it can lead to contact dermatitis. It usually causes a skin rash only on the part of the skin comes in contact with an allergen.
Tips: It is wise to consult a doctor to know the exact cause of a skin rash. Your doctor might take a detailed history followed by a physical examination before treating the condition.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)
1. Kutlubay Z, Tanakol A, Engýn B, et al. Newborn Skin: Common Skin Problems. Maedica (Buchar). 2017 Jan;12(1):42-47.
2. Skin care for your baby. Paediatr Child Health. 2007 Mar;12(3):245-51.