common skin problems in newborns
Baby basics

7 common skin problems in newborns

A newborn baby’s skin is sensitive and delicate and requires care to avoid irritation. The first few months after birth can see various rashes develop, as infants adapt to a whole new environment. We outline the most common skin problems in newborns.

Most rashes are harmless and disappear on their own. However, if your baby has a rash and is generally unwell, or if you have any niggling worries, it’s best to get them seen by a doctor to rule out meningitis, to establish the cause and check if treatment is needed.

7 common skin problems in newborns

1. Nappy rash

A common problem is nappy rash, which happens when the skin around the nappy area becomes irritated and sore. It may occur because nappies are too tight or not changed frequently enough. Fungal infections or rare skin conditions may also cause nappy rash.

The best ways to avoid nappy rash include changing the nappy as soon as it’s wet or dirty and exposing the nappy area to air for as long as possible. Using a barrier cream will usually clear the rash. If a fungal infection is the cause of the problem, an anti-fungal cream will be required.

2. Milia

Roughly half of all newborns develop little white bumps or spots, known as milia ( milk spots), on their face. These are blocked pores and usually disappear during the first four weeks of life.

3. Sweat rashes

Sweat rashes can also appear on the neck, nappy area, armpits and skin folds. These small red blisters on the skin are a sign that the infant’s sweat glands have become blocked.

The solution is to introduce a cool, dry environment in the home and to dress your baby in loose fitting layers that can easily be removed.

4. Cradle cap

Cradle cap often appears during baby’s first or second month and usually clears up within the first year. Scaly patches appear on the scalp and sometimes the face, ears, neck, eyebrows and eyelids are also affected. While cradle cap may look unsightly, it isn’t itchy and usually improves without treatment after a few weeks or months. Special shampoos, creams and lotions are available and may help prevent more patches developing.

5. Hives

Babies can also have hives – raised, red, and itchy rashes. They can be caused by an allergic reaction to food or drink, causing histamine to be released into the skin. Treatment with antihistamines can get rid of the problem.

6. Eczema

Eczema is a longterm condition that manifests itself through itchy red marks that can leave the skin dry and cracked. It may take the form of a weepy rash but can become thick, dry and scaly. Elbows, the chest, arms and behind the knees can all be affected.

The most common form is atopic eczema which mainly affects infants and children, starting off as a red rash on the face, scalp and body. It can continue into adulthood.

Eczema in babies under six months is said to be linked to allergies to milk and eggs. Advice should be sought on managing your baby’s eczema and any treatment needed.

7. Impetigo

Among the other skin conditions that can affect babies and children is impetigo. It’s a highly contagious bacterial infection of the surface layers of the skin which results in blisters and sores. It usually occurs on the face, neck and hands of young children and infants. Your GP will prescribe antibiotics to clear the infection.

Skin regime for your newborn

Midwife Grainne Grundy shares her tips for new-born skincare:

1. Only give your baby a bath once or twice a week – the skin has natural oils which can be removed from too much washing.

2. Don’t use baby oil if your baby has dry skin, as it can initially make them very slippery and then dry their skin out even more. Use an emollient based cream like emulsifying ointment. This can be used in the bath and on the skin as a moisturiser.

3. Make sure you clean in all the crevices that are found under the chin, elbow bends, behind knees and groin. Also make sure you dry these areas very well.

4. Don’t use talcum powder as it can block pores and cake on the skin.

5. Babies’ clothes and towels should be washed separately from your family’s laundry using a non-bio detergent.

6. As your baby gets older you can bathe them more frequently, but for the first six weeks at least only once or twice per week.

More like this:

Complete guide to nappy changing
Pros and cons of attachment parenting
Best baby changing rooms – out and about

Ask Allison

Q My sister-in-law and I both work three-day weeks and we help each
other out with child minding on our working days, which up until recently has worked out really well. Between us, our kids are aged between five and nine years – the problem is that it’s now become quite apparent that we have very different parenting styles. I prefer my two daughters (seven and nine) to have a structured day. For example, in my house, we have allocated times for television and iPads, etc. My sister-in-law, however, lets the kids run loose after school – homework is ignored and my kids end up wired after eating sugary treats all afternoon. I am considering looking at after-school childcare for the kids, but I’m worried that this is going to cause a family argument. Is there a diplomatic way that I can ask my sister-in-law to introduce some discipline into her child-minding days? It certainly doesn’t do her two kids any harm when I am minding them in my own house!

In a word, no, there is no diplomatic way to do this as it may very likely seem like your saying that your parenting style is better than
hers. As L’Óreal says, ‘now here comes the science bit.’ Dr. Kaylene
Henderson, a child psychiatrist, wrote a very interesting blog about ‘the
science behind the Mummy Wars’. She explains that before she had
children of her own she hadn’t been aware of how parents have a
very specific sense of the right parenting style. She also found that parents could be very definite in defending their chosen parenting style. Dr. Henderson, who describes herself as a curious, scientific, open-minded person, was surprised at how defensive parents could be and, at times, of their judgemental attitude towards each other. She explained the neurology of the Mummy Wars; okay, I’ll need you to bear with me for a second. Warning; I’m about to use some neuro-techie language.

Why do we judge each other?
As we have all had different experiences, this means that we all have very different memories stored in our brains. Most of our memories are ‘explicit’ memories – these are ones that we can recall easily such as important dates that mean something to us; important birthdays, special events or stories of and about our lives.
There is another type of memory called ‘implicit’ memory that plays a
key role in our parenting. This type of memory is the stuff that you do on autopilot. Psychologists call these heuristics or rules of thumb –
such as tying your shoelace, or driving your car (once you have learnt
to do both first!). Otherwise we’d really waste a huge amount of time
pondering over tasks that we have readily available to us. This seems to be where the science bit of our parenting style kicks in. This implicit memory goes all the way back to when you were an infant being parented by your parents. This is when you started the process of storing up how they did it into your memories.
Unless you make a conscious choice and effort to parent differently, what you saw and unconsciously learnt will be your automatic go-to parenting style.

We learn habits
This can really kick into gear when we feel our parenting style is
being mirrored or highlighted by disapproval from another parent. I know the cold sweat you feel when your child decides to make their outstanding bad behaviour performance at, of course, the most public and worst time. The implicit autopilot of how your parents dealt with these outbursts will flow unconsciously from you if you haven’t worked super hard to be aware and consciously change the old habits.
What’s happening for the on-looking parent is that they see you doing something they are used to doing, but you are doing it all wrong. Simply, because that is not how they know how to do it.

Find a way that works
You both have different parenting styles – who is to say which type is correct? You just need to know what works best for your family and that’s the bottom line. The irksome feelings won’t go away. You can talk to your sister-in-law, but I’m adding a caveat that it would be hard not to hurt her feelings. What we’re possibly looking at is that you prefer a more structured form of parenting, whereas your sister-in-law has a more permissive style. I’m not sure the two styles can mix, the mixture is a bit like oil and water.
If a collaborative shared form of parenting style can be agreed upon, then that is great, but our learnt hardwiring may prove difficult to change despite the intent to do so.
Perhaps, your own instinct of changing childcare might work best for you. In terms of making childcare work; the fit is ultimately the most
important aspect as you want a cohesive congruent feeling of the other caregiver to just ‘getting it’, like in any good partnership. Best of luck
with this and I wish you both well.


How to express and store breast milk

Expressing allows you to have supplies of your breast milk for feeding your baby even when you’re not around – useful if you are returning to work or become ill.



Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….