Understanding Your Baby’s Skin

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Most parents are worried about the appearance of their baby’s skin. “What are those marks on his skin?” “Why does she have pimples?”

Here are some things you may discover about your baby’s skin:

Skin color: Skin colour in newborns can vary greatly from a brown and white or yellowish tone to the typical redness. Skin color can vary depending on the activity level of the baby. Of course, family characteristics and racial factors will also influence the color of your baby’s skin. At birth, the skin of the normal newborn is brownish or reddish-purple in color and turns bright red when the baby cries. (During the first few days of life, the skin gradually loses this redness.) In addition, the newborn’s hands and feet may be cool and blue. By the third day, he may also appear slightly yellow. This condition is called jaundice. It is common in newborns, and only occasionally requires special treatment.

Rash: Your infant’s tender and sensitive skin commonly reacts to his new environment. Scattered, pinhead-sized, or somewhat larger papules (pimples) surrounded by a mild red zone may appear in various areas of the body when your baby is about 2 days old. These will disappear over time. The cause is unknown, and the rash requires no treatment.

Acrocyanosis: A blue colour of the hands and feet is called acrocyanosis. It is caused by a decrease in the circulation of blood to the skin of the hands and feet. This condition frequently occurs during the early hours of life. However, a baby should never be blue around the face and lips. If you notice that your baby’s face and lips have a blue colour, or if she has dusky or blue skin, this may indicate a serious problem and requires immediate medical attention.

Mottling: A new baby’s skin can also look blotchy or mottled. This is especially noticeable if the baby is uncovered or cold. Mottling can also occur if your baby is ill. If your baby’s skin colour becomes pale or mottled, take her temperature. If it is higher or lower than the normal range, call your baby’s doctor.

Cradle cap: Cradle cap is a scaly patch of skin that develops on the scalp. Brushing your baby’s hair daily and washing it frequently every time you bathe him, or 2-3 times per week may help prevent cradle cap. If cradle cap occurs, call your baby’s doctor.

Milia: The whitish, pinhead-sized spots, mainly on and around the nose or the newborn’s chin are called milia. Although they appear as tiny pimples, it is important not to disturb or break them, or put acne medicine on them. Doing so could produce a rash or cause the skin to scar. Milia is a normal occurrence in newborns and usually disappears within a few weeks.

Stork bite marks: This is a fanciful term for the areas of pink or red often present in the newborn on the upper eyelids, forehead, and back of the neck. These marks are caused by blood vessels that are close to the surface of the skin. They usually fade by the end of the baby’s second year. These “birthmarks” occur in as many as half of all newborns, especially in those with fair complexions.

Infant Acne: Usually occurs around 2-4 weeks of age and resembles the acne common in adolescents. It is typically caused by maternal hormones passed during pregnancy. It is a self-limited condition and no treatment required and resolves by 3 months of age when the mother’s hormones have waned.

Eczema: Infant eczema is a topical skin rash, most frequently showing up any time after birth on the face, arms and legs but rarely in the diaper area. The rash can look like chapped, scaly skin or tiny red bumps that can blister or ooze, and are incredibly itchy. Eczema patches can be spread by scratching so it’s important to keep scratching to a minimum.

Chafing: Sometimes chafing can occur when there is friction between skin and clothing or where skin rubs together. Avoid tight clothing to prevent this problem.

Heat Rash: You may notice some small pink spots all over the body of your baby. A lot of humidity and heat can cause this. Keep your baby in loose clothing and avoid keeping them in areas that are too warm to help with this problem
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