Skin Care for Your Baby's Face

Learn about the most common skin conditions so you can save your baby's face.

baby PhotoAlto/ Veer
Newborn rashes are one of the most common reasons for visits to the doc -- and they're especially distressing when they show up on your baby's beautiful face. Learn what's chapping those cheeks, so you can cut down on face time with your MD.

    Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

    Rosy cheeks can be cute, but they also be a sign of eczema or atopic dermatitis, one of the most common skin conditions in babies. Babies with eczema have trouble keeping moisture locked in, so the skin becomes dry, itchy, and cracked -- a perfect setup for outside irritants to cause trouble. Baby faces are one of the first areas that eczema shows up. This usually starts in infancy, with 65 percent of patients developing symptoms in the first year of life and 90 percent developing symptoms before age five. Common triggers include, wool, heat, or the chemicals in soaps, fragrances, lotions, and detergents. Be on the lookout for signs of seasonal allergies, asthma, or flares with certain food groups.

    Doctors usually treat this with a strict regimen of moisturization, and may prescribe steroid creams for serious cases.

    How to Treat Eczema

    Baby Acne

    It looks like you can thank maternal hormones that cross the placenta for those little reddish facial pimples and pustules on your newborn's face. You're not alone in dealing with baby acne -- it happens to about 20 percent of babies. And heat, crying or harsh detergents can actually make things worse. But don't worry -- the acne will eventually disappear. "Neonatal acne generally resolves itself within three months," says Britt Craiglow, MD, clinical instructor of pediatric dermatology at Yale New Haven Hospital. In the interim, soothe the skin with mild, non-soap, pH-neutral cleansers, and use fragrance-free, non-comedogenic lotions to moisturize baby's skin. For stubborn situations, a health care provider may use a prescription to clear things up.

    Milia

    These tiny, white pearl-like cysts can occur on your baby's forehead, nose, cheeks, or chin. They are often noticed at birth, and happen in up to 40 percent of newborns. As tempting as it may be, try not to poke, prod or pop. These are not pimples, and messing with them will lead to unnecessary irritation. Although there is no known cause, and no way to avoid them, most milia are history in a just a couple of weeks, so just hang tight and all will be right.

    When to Worry: Acne & Milia

    Irritant Contact Dermatitis

    As the name suggests, this rash appears when your baby's skin gets inflamed by an irritant. Red patches and pink bumps, mainly around the mouth, make this easy to identify. Common culprits in the newborn age group include drool and messy meals. Don't confuse this with eczema -- ICD won't itch.

    "The cheeks, chin, and neck of newborns are susceptible, particularly once they are older and taking solid food," Dr. Craiglow says. She suggests applying a protective barrier such as Vaseline on the skin before mealtime to reduce redness.

    Impetigo

    Impetigo is a highly contagious infection that happens when staph or strep bacteria enter the skin through eczema patches, cuts or scrapes, or even when your baby scrapes her face with her little nails. Pus-filled blisters and honey-colored, crusted patches, particularly around the nose and mouth, are hallmark signs of this infection. Your doctor will treat impetigo with a topical or oral antibiotic. After 24 hours of treatment your child will no longer contagious.

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