5 Very Common Skin Ailments In Babies

5 Very Common Skin Ailments In BabiesIntertrigo

Intertrigo is a rash found mainly in a baby’s skin folds, especially in the neck. It usually appears in chubby babies under 6 months.

Intertrigo looks like a red, raw, weepy rash that looks worse inside the skin creases. Your baby may not notice it at all or it may cause some pain, depending on the amount of skin-to-skin friction in the affected area.

Intertrigo is caused by excessive moisture from drool and spit-up that collects in your baby’s skin folds and doesn’t dry out.

To treat intertrigo, wash out the inside of your baby’s skin folds with water and apply a zinc-oxide barrier cream or petroleum jelly to protect them. As babies get older and more mobile they begin to tilt and crane necks, which airs out the skin and causes the intertrigo goes away.

Prickly Heat

Prickly heat is also known as miliaria and may occur on the face, neck, back or bottom.

Prickly heat looks like tiny red bumps.

Prickly heat rash is caused by — you guessed it — heat. Since a baby’s skin isn’t able to regulate heat very well, anything that overheats your child (like hot and humid weather, dressing them in too much or too tight of clothing, or a long hot car ride while strapped in a car seat) can set off a prickly heat rash.

To treat prickly heat rash, get your baby out of the heat and dress them in loose, cool clothing. The rash should look much better in about 30 minutes.


Seborrhea is a rash that appears on the scalp and eyebrows (in which case it is commonly referred to as “cradle cap”), behind the ears, or on the neck, cheeks and chest. Seborrhea is most common in babies under 6 months.

On the scalp and eyebrows, seborrhea looks like dandruff, although it can also appear like thick, yellow, crusty scales. Behind the ears, seborrhea tends to look cracked and scaly. On the chest and neck, it may be pimply, and on the cheeks, red and bumpy. It can be unsightly but probably won’t bother your baby at all.

No one knows what causes seborrhea, but the traditional remedy is to rub a little olive or baby oil on your baby’s scalp to loosen the scales, then gently brush them off. Washing the scalp, behind the ears, and any other spots with a small amount of anti-dandruff shampoo can help as well.


Eczema can appear anywhere on a baby’s body starting around 3 or 4 months, though it’s not usually found in the diaper area. Up to 20 percent of babies will develop this extremely itchy rash.

In its mildest form, eczema erupts in dry, patchy areas on the skin. It can also look like a bad case of windburn and cause the skin to turn red, ooze pus and get crusty.

Anything can be a trigger for babies prone to eczema (especially those with a genetic predisposition or a family history of allergies). Hot weather can cause sweating, which irritates the skin; cold weather can dry it out. Soaps and clothing, especially itchy materials like wool, can also spark an outbreak. Sometimes it will seem like you just can’t win.

Treating eczema can involve washing the skin with a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser (ask your pediatrician for recommendations next time you are in here at the office) and then moisturizing the damp skin twice a day. For a more severe case, talk to the doctor about a steroid ointment, which will reduce the inflammation.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a skin reaction to something your baby came in contact with — from soaps and detergents to grass and other plants.

Contact dermatitis typically looks like red, itchy bumps at the contact site.

If the rash is all over your baby’s body, then soap or detergent is probably to blame. If the chest and arms are affected, the culprit could be a new shirt that hasn’t been washed yet. Rashy legs? For some super-sensitive infants, all it takes is the unfamiliar texture of a rug or grass.

If the rash looks dry, moisturize it! If it’s not bothering your baby, just remove the trigger (roll up the rug, wash the shirt, try a milder soap, a gentler laundry detergent). If the rash is itchy, talk to your doctor about a hydrocortisone cream or an antihistamine.

If you have questions about a problem with your child’s skin or notice a persistent rash that isn’t going away, please don’t hesitate to call MacKoul at 239-573-2001 to set an appointment.

About author MacKoul Pediatrics

MacKoul Pediatrics is an amazing local pediatrics office in Cape Coral, FL where caring, compassionate doctors and nurses work with you to keep your children as healthy as possible. MacKoul cares for children from birth to college age, from Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Naples, and beyond.

August 3, 2015