From birthmarks to strange spots, learn about the different types of skin conditions your newborn might have.

Newborns have extremely sensitive skin, which is why they often develop various skin conditions. While some skin conditions may seem unusual, most are fairly common and do not need to be treated.

Some 30 to 40 per cent of babies are born with milia, which are white or yellow tiny whiteheads that appear on their faces and usually disappear in a few weeks.

Do clean and dry bubba’s skin folds, especially behind the ears and in the creases of the neck as these can retain moisture and cause skin problems. Here are skin issues to look out for:

1. Acrocyanosis

This is the bluish discoloration of the hands and feet that frequently occurs in the early hours of life. Dr Low Kah Tzay, a paediatrician at Anson International Paediatric and Child Development Clinic, says that acrocyanosis poses a serious risk if it’s an illness that causes poor blood circulation to your newborn’s extremities. If your baby’s face and lips are blue, get a doctor to check on him immediately.

Jaundice shows up as a yellow discoloration of the skin and sclera. Preterm babies (born before 37 weeks) and some breastfed babies are also susceptible to jaundice.

2. Mottling

During delivery, your baby’s skin gets mottled because of the broken blood vessels lying under the upper layer of the skin. Its blotchy appearance often resembles a spiderweb or marbled patterns, explains Dr Low. The lacy pattern of small reddish and pale areas is visible when there’s poor circulation or if baby is cold. Mottling also occurs if baby is ill. This unsightly skin condition resolves without treatment.

3. Yellow skin (Jaundice)

When your baby’s liver is not mature enough to get rid of the excess bilirubin — the yellow-coloured pigment of red blood cells — in his bloodstream, this common condition arises.

Jaundice shows up as a yellow discoloration of the skin and sclera, explains Dr Low Kah Tzay, a paediatrician at Anson International Paediatric and Child Development Clinic. Preterm babies (born before 37 weeks) and some breastfed babies are also susceptible to jaundice.

High levels of bilirubin can harm baby, causing a condition called kernicterus, says Dr Anita Menon, a consultant paediatrician at Dr Anita’s Kids Clinic. If left untreated, brain damage may occur, she notes. Light therapy (phototherapy) and frequent feedings can help baby eliminate bilirubin in his stool.

4. Erythema toxicum (newborn rash)

“Erythema toxicum is a common rash that occurs in newborns during the first one to two weeks of life,” says Dr Low. Appearing as red rash patches over the face and body, there may be pimples filled with clear fluid in the middle of the red patch, he notes. This condition usually resolves after a few weeks and no treatment is needed. If baby has a fever associated with the eruption, see a doctor.



5. Pink pimples (Neonatal acne)

Pink pimples are linked to maternal hormones that your little one inherited from you during pregnancy. They can last for weeks or even months, but no treatment is required.

6. Cradle cap

This happens when you see yellowish and thick, greasy flakes on baby’s scalp. He may have a red rash on the face, behind the ears, on the neck and armpits.

This harmless condition is caused by an excess of natural oil in the skin, which may be a result of extra hormones in baby’s body after birth.

Loosen and remove the flakes by gently applying natural almond oil on the scalp and comb through with a baby brush. Don’t pick at it as this may cause an infection.

By the way, cradle cap will not inhibit your precious baby’s hair growth. “When cradle cap has resolved, hair will re-grow,” Dr Low assures.

This harmless condition [cradle cap] is caused by an excess of natural oil in the skin, which may be a result of extra hormones in baby’s body after birth

7. Diaper rash

Whether you use cloth or disposable diapers, diaper rash is always a possibility. This happens when irritants like stool, urine and bacteria come into contact with sensitive skin.

The combination of wet skin and diaper chafing may lead to diaper rash — a sore, red rash on baby’s bottom and across his thighs. Sometimes, it can be caused by yeast or bacterial infections, or maybe bubba is allergic to the diaper material.

Change baby’s diapers frequently, but avoid using alcohol-based wipes. Use warm water and cotton balls to clean the inflamed area. Don’t over-clean his bum as it could dry out his tender skin. At each change, apply diaper rash cream and use a good barrier ointment containing zinc oxide to protect his skin. Air baby’s bottom by letting him go diaper-free a few minutes a day to speed up the healing process.

8. Eczema

Also known as atopic dermatitis, this is a condition where the skin lacks the right fats and oils to provide an effective barrier, allowing allergens — products that cause an allergic reaction — to penetrate the skin, irritating and drying it out.

Symptoms include skin that is dry, scaly and irritated, itchiness, and red and cracked skin. It’s seen in babies over 3 months old and appears on the scalp, face, trunk, elbows and knees, and diaper area.

Many babies inherit a tendency to develop eczema, so check your family history. It can also be triggered by diet. In some babies, exposure to milk, eggs and wheat will set off the allergic reaction. Other triggers include dust, pet fur and detergents containing perfumes and sulphates (this causes foam to form).

Mild eczema can be treated with over-the-counter emollient creams to combat dryness. If the skin is cracked, doctors may prescribe a steroid cream. They may also give antihistamines to ease itching and antibiotics if there’s an infection. Bacteria that thrives on weepy and broken skin is very common in eczema sufferers.

Wondering if swimming might exacerbate baby’s eczema? Dr Low says children with eczema can go swimming if their skin’s condition is under control. “Shower after a swim using a soap-free bath solution, but if children have severe inflammation or ‘weepy’ skin wounds, they should avoid swimming,” he advises.

How to care for baby’s soft skin

1. Use products made specifically for babies, such as mild soap-free bath products and unscented laundry detergent for baby’s clothes and bedding. Avoid products containing harsh chemicals and fragrances, which may be absorbed at higher rates in the thinner, less developed skin of infants, causing allergic reactions.

2. During baths, avoid excessively hot water or drying baby’s skin
too forcefully with a towel, advises Dr Low.

3. Avoid talcum powder, since there is a risk of accidental inhalation and subsequent lung problems.

4. When going out, apply sunscreen with SPF of at least 30, only if baby’s over 6 months of age. Carry a hat or umbrella.

Photos: iStock

Like us on Facebook and check SmartParents regularly for the latest reads!

You may also like…

11 fun ways o boost your baby’s motor development

12 fun baby-friendly places to visit in Singapore [Photo Gallery]

6 things you don’t appreciate about babies until they become toddlers