Articles and Topics
Skin concerns
  • Little white bumps, called milia, break out on the faces of most newborns because their oil glands are still maturing. Other than washing with water, just leave the bumps alone and they'll disappear soon.

  • Acne is also common; it's actually caused by mom's hormones still circulating in baby. By the end of the sixth week it should be history as well.

  • Cradle cap is the name for crusty, oily, scaly patches on your baby's head or face. About half of all infants get it. It's a combination of those overactive oil glands and the fact that many parents are afraid to clean baby's head. (It's true that the 'soft spot' on baby's skull requires gentle care, but it's strong enough to wash with a damp cloth.) To prevent cradle cap, wash baby's head with mild shampoo every few days, or rub on a little baby oil, brush the scales away, then rinse with water.

  • Diaper rash can begin in infancy but often really kicks in once baby begins to crawl and then walk. It's caused by a dirty diaper combined with irritation—in other words, baby crawling around. The only real way to prevent diaper rash is to change dirty diapers quickly. Barrier creams or petroleum jelly can help as well, as can washing with just water (skip soap; it can cause dryness and irritation). Some parents also swear by letting baby crawl around diaper-free for a bit each day. If diaper rash progresses to a yeast infection (a flaring red rash with raised bumps), see your pediatrician for medication.

  • Eczema is a kind of skin allergy that makes baby itchy, uncomfortable, and fussy. Anything from a scratchy fabric to new detergent to baby's own saliva can cause these raised bumps. Sometimes even tasting a new food can make baby break out. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 10 to 20 percent of all babies have an eczema bout by their first birthday; if your baby is suffering, see the pediatrician for a topical cream. Also, if your baby is prone to eczema, the prescription (unlike that for diaper rash) is fewer baths combined with a fragrance-free moisturizer.
Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education