You might expect your baby's skin to be flawless, but baby rashes and other skin conditions — such as cradle cap — are common.
Cradle cap appears as thick, yellow, crusty or greasy patches on a baby's scalp. Cradle cap is most common in newborns and usually clears up on its own within several months.
In the meantime, wash your baby's hair with mild baby shampoo and loosen the scales with a small, soft-bristled brush. For stubborn scales, rub petrolatum or a few drops of mineral oil onto your baby's scalp, wait a few minutes, and then brush and shampoo your baby's hair. If cradle cap persists, ask your baby's doctor about other treatment options.
A patchwork of bright red skin on your baby's bottom is probably diaper rash, typically caused by prolonged contact with urine or feces.
To treat diaper rash, air out your baby's bottom. Apply a diaper rash cream or ointment at each diaper change. If you use a thick barrier cream, remove only the soiled layer of cream during diaper changes to avoid rubbing and further irritating the skin. Consult your baby's doctor if the rash doesn't improve or begins to blister.
To prevent diaper rash, change your baby's diaper frequently, let your baby go without a diaper for short periods of time, and regularly apply a diaper rash cream or ointment barrier during diaper changes.
Baby acne appears as red or white bumps on a baby's forehead or cheeks. The condition often develops within the first month after birth, perhaps due to exposure to maternal hormones during pregnancy. Baby acne usually disappears on its own within a few months.
In the meantime, wash your baby's face once a day with water and a mild soap. Consult your baby's doctor if the acne doesn't improve within a few months or you'd like to consider more aggressive treatment.
Heat rash appears as fine, clear or red spots on your baby's skin. Heat rash is common in babies during hot, humid weather — often a result of overdressing.
Heat rash generally disappears on its own. In the meantime, move the baby to a cooler environment or give the baby a cool bath. To prevent heat rash in hot weather, dress your baby in cool, lightweight clothing. In cold weather, dress your baby in layers so that you can remove items if the temperature rises.
Baby eczema is characterized by patches of dry, scaly and itchy skin. Occasionally the patches ooze and crust over.
Many babies outgrow eczema. To treat baby eczema, help your baby avoid extreme temperatures and anything that seems to bother his or her skin. Bathe your baby every second or third day, rather than daily, and dry your baby's skin with gentle pats. Use generous amounts of unscented moisturizing ointment. Consult your baby's doctor if the rash is severe or doesn't improve.