Five Common Newborn Skin Conditions

Your precious newborn has finally arrived, you've counted his fingers and toes, and he couldn't be more perfect. While your baby was in utero, his skin was protected from absorbing too much moisture with a thick, white, waxy, cheese-like substance called vernix caseosa. This is rubbed off and washed away once he is born. Without this protective coating, some newborn infants may develop any number of harmless rashes and skin conditions as their skin adjusts to life on the outside. Here are the basics you need to know.

Newborn Acne

Sometimes called pink pimples, this skin condition is when the infant develops a crop of tiny pimples. Doctors believe that is caused from the sudden absence of hormones from his mother. They can last for several months as the baby's hormones balance out, but no treatment is needed.


Milia are tiny white bumps, usually around the nose, mouth, and on the cheeks. Just like whiteheads and blackheads, they are caused by sebum blocking the sebaceous glands. Within a few weeks, the baby's oil glands will open, releasing the clogged pores, and the condition will quickly disappear on its own.

Dry Skin

Virtually every baby will develop flaky, peeling skin. It's almost as if they shed the coat they were born with, and the fresh, healthy pink skin underneath is revealed. Peeling skin is especially common in babies who stayed in longer than necessary and went past their due date. It's also common for babies born in arid climates or during the winter to get extra-dry skin.

A newborn's skin can be very sensitive, so you don't want to use any heavily scented lotions. Ask your pediatrician what would be best for your baby. Some recommend simple olive or coconut oil. Additionally, don't bathe baby too often; both the water and soap can further dry out his skin.

Cradle Cap

Known medically as seborrhea, this usually shows up in the first few weeks of life if it is going to. The scalp develops a greasy crust, and it can also cause a red rash on the scalp, neck, and ears. Consult with your pediatrician on the best way to deal with cradle cap on your baby.

Prickly Heat

This is a fine rash that tends to cover the entire body. It is completely harmless, and is usually caused by the baby overheating. The cure is to make certain you aren't dressing the baby too warmly or keeping him wrapped in blankets. New parents especially tend to worry their child will get cold if they don't keep them bundled, but a loose gown, socks, and a light blanket is usually all that's required.