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Baby Health: Rashes

New babies get all kinds of rashes and skin irritations which are harmless, but how can you tell what's what and when to call the doctor?


Posted: 15 June 2009
by ThinkBaby

Help your baby get enough Zzz's
Does your baby's skin need a little TLC?

It can be easy to panic and, although nine times out of 10 there’ll be nothing to worry about. Still, it’s a good idea to know the basics of baby health and if you are worried about recurrent skin issues, you can also look up out articles about baby eczema, cradle cap and looking after your baby's skin at bathtime.

But for day to day skin rashes and irritations, check out our lowdown on common symptoms, what they might mean, and how to treat them…

Newborn rash A blotchy red rash all over your baby’s body soon after she’s born is nothing to worry about – it is caused by things like clothes and bedding touching your baby’s skin that it isn’t used to.
What to do Nothing - the blotches will disappear of their own accord

Heat rash This is no cause for concern and mainly appears on your baby’s head and neck as tiny red spots that join to make red splodges.
What to do Nothing – it’s very common as newborns adjust to the temperature outside the womb.

Hormone rash Often called ‘milk rash’, this has nothing to do with milk and is thought to be caused by the hormones that pass between mum and baby during labour. These stimulate your baby’s oil glands, which causes little pimples.
What to do Nothing – it should clear up by around three months.

Nappy rash This is the red, blotchy and sometimes spotty skin that babies often get around the nappy area. It’s caused by the wetness, friction and chafing that come with wearing a nappy.
What to do Change your baby as soon as you can and rub on a barrier cream, even if your baby’s bottom looks fine. Once nappy rash appears, the best way to treat it is to leave the nappy off. That’s not always possible, so an application of barrier cream helps.

Meningitis There are two kinds of meningitis. Viral is less serious and most people recover after a few weeks, but bacterial needs urgent attention. It often also causes meningococcal septicaemia (blood poisoning), which shows itself with a distinctive rash, with red or purple spots, that don’t fade when you press a glass on them. Other symptoms are similar to colds and flu but your baby will get very sick very quickly, often in a matter of hours. Look out for fever, drowsiness, refusal to feed, vomiting, fretfulness and a stiff neck or arched back.
What to do If your baby’s rash doesn’t disappear when you press a glass to it, go to a doctor immediately, no matter how well your baby is. There are other things it could be, but meningitis can be fatal if you miss it.

When to call a doctor

With any baby health worry, contact your GP or call NHS Direct on 0845 4647 if your baby…

  • Has a temperature of 38°C or higher
  • Has forceful, repeated vomiting that continues for more than 24 hours
  • Is particularly lethargic or irritable
  • Has diarrhoea for more than 24 hours
  • Has a swollen abdomen
  • Shows signs of dehydration – dry mouth, dark yellow urine, dry nappy for six to eight hours
  • Has blood in her poo or in vomit
  • Has convulsions
  • Refuses feeds for more than six to eight hours
  • Shows signs of jaundice (yellow whites of eyes and a yellowish, tanned look to the skin)

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