Erythema Toxicum

A fairly common, benign, and self-limiting skin eruption that typically occurs within the first few days after birth, erythema toxicum is characterized by blotchy red spots on the skin with overlying white or yellow papules or pustules. These lesions may be few or numerous. The eruption typically resolves within a few days.

The cause of erythema toxicum is unknown. Hypersensitivity to detergents in bedsheets and clothing is sometimes suspected, but the connection remains unproven. Because the eruption is transient and self-limiting, no treatment is indicated.

Sucking Blisters

These blisters, seen on fingers, hands, wrists, and even the arms of newborns, are caused by vigorous sucking of the infant in the mothers womb (in utero). No treatment is needed, as they disappear rapidly without consequences.

Transient Neonatal Pustular Melanosis

This benign, self-limiting eruption usually appears at birth as tiny clear or pus-filled blisters. Due to their superficial nature, they rupture easily, often leaving a small ring of scale. These marks evolve into light brown patches that fade within a few months. No treatment is indicated.

Cradle Cap

Cradle cap, or seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp, is a waxy or greasy scaling that appears on a red base over the scalp in infants during the first few months of life. The condition sometimes spreads to the face, especially around the eyebrows and nose, and to the ears. With simple treatment, this usually disappears by 8 to 12 months. Treatment consists of frequent shampooing. If the scales are thick and resistant, warm mineral or olive oil can be gently rubbed in. The hair should be brushed or combed at least daily to help loosen the scales. Occasionally, medications are prescribed for stubborn areas.

For more information, please read Cradle Cap.

Diaper Rash

Diaper dermatitis (diaper rash) is the most common skin disorder seen in infants and toddlers. It can be caused by a variety of factors, the most common of which is prolonged contact with urine or feces in a soiled diaper, causing irritation to the skin. The irritated skin sometimes becomes infected with the yeast candida. Chafing or friction also can worsen the problem.

The rash responds well to frequent diaper changes and by allowing the child to go without diapers for periods of time daily. Baby powder or cornstarch can be used as drying agents to help reduce moisture and friction. Candida should be treated with any of the various anticandidal creams prescribed by a doctor. If evidence of candida appears in the mouth (thrush) or the anal area, an oral medication may be prescribed as well. Mild cortisone creams can be applied for severe irritations, but prolonged use should be avoided.

For more information, please read Diaper Rash.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 31 Aug 2000

Last Modified: 28 Sep 2015