Baby spots and rashes in pictures

Milk spots, baby eczema, heat rash, or something more serious? Our pictures and expert advice will help you recognise the most common baby rashes and spots and explain how to treat them too…

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  • Nappy Rash

    What does nappy rash look like?

    Sore, angry, red skin, which can sometimes look quite pimply too.

    Where?

    On or around your baby’s bottom and genitals.

    Who gets it?

    Babies who suffer from eczema or dry skin are more prone to nappy rash but it also occurs if your baby’s nappies have been left on for too long when wet.

    What can you do?

    Health visitor Annette Maloney says the best way to prevent nappy rash is to change your baby’s nappy as soon as it’s wet or dirty. “Clean your little one’s bottom thoroughly at each change starting at the front and working towards her bottom, using mild wipes or plain water, then gently pat dry, particularly in the creases,” says Annette. And if it’s really bad, let your little one have some time without a nappy on. “Put your baby on a towel covered mat on the floor with no nappy so that the air can circulate and help the nappy rash clear up,” says Annette.

    A Mum's story...

    MFMer Rebecca found a solution to her baby's nappy rash, “Annabel gets bad nappy rash (especially when teething). I feel like I’ve tried everything! The one thing I swear by is Metanium. It works. It stays where you apply it and really has been a top product for us.”

    Photo: DR P. MARAZZI/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
  • Milk Spots

    What do milk spots look like?

    Tiny, pearly white spots that feel hard to the touch.

    Where?

    Usually around the eyes, cheeks, bridge of the nose and across the forehead, although they can also appear on your baby’s back and chest.

    Who gets it?

    As many as half of all babies will get milk spots, or milia, which are actually nothing to do with milk or feeding in any way. “They’re a result of your child’s glands not developing properly, causing oil to get trapped and form spots,” explains midwife, Karina Dyer.

    What can you do?

    As milk spots only last for a few weeks and cause no harm, the best thing to do is leave them alone, advises GP, Dr Suni Perera. ‘Picking or prising out the spot could cause scarring as this will break the skin surface, which acts as a natural protective barrier,’ says Dr Perera.

    A Mum's story...

    MFMer mojo75 says, “my baby girl had milk spots around her eyes, nose and mouth from week two to four. I cleaned them with warm water until they cleared up.”

  • Erythema toxicum / Newborn rash

    What does erythema toxicum look like?

    A red pimply rash

    Where?

    All over the body

    Who gets it?

    “The newborn rash, known as erythema toxicum, is an extremely common red pimply rash that occurs all over the body 24 hours after birth,” explains Dr Tim Clayton, consultant paediatric dermatologist at dermexpert.co.uk. “Nobody knows what causes it, but it’s completely harmless and goes away on its own after a week. It’s easy for a doctor to diagnose as the child will not have any other symptoms,” says Dr Clayton.

    What can you do?

    As it is harmless and causes no distress to your baby, do your best to ignore it. If you do use lotions or products make sure they are as mild as possible, fragrance-free and designed for babies.

    A Mum's story...

    Moonminmummy, writing on the MFM forum says, “both my sons Owen and Theo had it and the hospital said to just wash the baby in water and only use non bio washing powder and no fabric conditioner.”

  • Cradle Cap

    What does cradle cap look like? 

    Flaky, scaly skin that can look quite unsightly and crusty.

    Where?

    On your baby’s scalp.

    Who gets it?

    Cradle cap is the result of over-production of oil on the head although experts still don’t know exactly why it happens.

    What can you do?

    Cradle cap usually lasts around two weeks but the important thing is never to pick or scratch off the scales as this will make the skin sore. “Always leave them to drop off naturally,” says midwife, Karina Dyer. “You can help it by massaging vegetable oil into the scalp at night, then gently wash it out with a mild shampoo in the morning. If it persists, see your GP though,” says Karina.

    A Mum's story 

    MFMer MrsDavy2be says, “my little one had quite bad cradle cap about two months ago and I`ve been using Dentinox cradle cap shampoo. I usually just wash it every other day, putting the shampoo on, leaving for about a minute and then rinsing off with warm water. Also, before she goes in the bath, I put some E45 cream on her hair a few hours earlier and brush with a baby brush to loosen the scales before washing. This was advised by my health visitor.”

    Photo: IAN BODDY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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  • Baby Acne

    What does baby acne look like?

    Like acne, funnily enough. In other words, red spots that are raised, angry looking and filled with fluid or pus.

    Where?

    Usually on your baby’s cheeks.

    Who gets it?

    Tends to break out in babies up to a month after they are born and often gets worse before it clears up. (Within a few weeks or months.)

    What can you do?

    Avoid over washing your little one and only use mild products, if any at all. “If it’s a severe case, the best thing is to see a dermatologist who’ll treat the problem with special creams,” advises Dr Tim Clayton.

    A Mum's story

    MFMer SarahandJustin says, “my baby Thomas is one month old already and now has baby acne. His face is so sore and spotty. The doctor has prescribed hydrocortisone to help it heal.”

    Photo: DR P. MARAZZI/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
  • Eczema

    What does eczema look like?

    Red, inflamed, dry patches of skin.

    Where?

    On the cheeks, in the creases of arms, knees, ankles, backs of ears and neck.

    Who gets it?

    Babies can be born with eczema although typically it starts between two and three months. It can be a symptom of a food allergy too, so keep a watch out for flare-ups when you introduce formula and cow’s milk, which can be triggers.

    What can you do?

    “Dryness makes symptoms worse, so avoid soap and use an emollient on your baby’s skin, to prevent it from cracking,” says Nina Goad from the British Association of Dermatologists. Your GP may also prescribe a gentle steroid cream to help control flare-ups. And if your baby does scratch, make sure you trim those nails or pop on a pair of scratch mittens.

    A Mum's story...

    Micromonkey writing on our forums says, says, “my little girl got eczema at four months and after trying several different creams the best one we have found is Doublebase which you can get from the doctors but also buy in Tesco. She also had a bath oil, which helped. It all seems to have gone now just after 18 months!”

    And MFMer MrsH6 says, “I have found that the less product the better and olive oil rubbed on the skin is actually better than most products as it has no chemical irritants.”

  • Thrush

    What does thrush look like?

    A white coating on your baby’s tongue and white spots in the mouth, that don’t rub off.

    Where?

    On the tongue and inside the mouth.

    Who gets it?

    Around one in 20 newborn babies are affected by oral thrush, caused by a yeast called Candida Albicans.

    What can you do?

    Although it’s not harmful, you and your little one will both need to be treated for thrush as it can pass back and forth when breastfeeding. Your baby may not show any symptoms but it can make breastfeeding very painful for mums if left untreated. “Your GP will probably prescribe an antifungal medication and the pain should start to ease after a few days. You can carry on breastfeeding although short feeds may be more comfortable than longer ones,” says Health visitor, Annette Maloney.

    A Mum's story...

    MFMer, kkng says, ‘If you're breast feeding, make sure you get some cream for you. You and your baby can pass the thrush back and forth. My baby had thrush at about five weeks old. We got rid of it after 3 weeks of treatment for both of us. Once it was gone it made the feeding much easier!”

  • Meningitis

    What does meningitis look like?

    Purple pin-prick rash that doesn’t blanch or fade when you press a glass against it.

    Where?

    Anywhere on your baby’s body.

    Who gets it?

    Anyone at any age but, as Meningitis UK says: “Babies do not replace the temporary natural immunity they get from their mothers until school age and so are at greater risk.”

    What can you do?

    Although we often associate meningitis with the no-fade rash, there are other symptoms to be aware of in babies. These include a high temperature, clammy pale skin, sleepiness, refusal to feed, vomiting, a bulging fontanel (the oft spot on top of your baby’s head), high-pitched crying, neck stiffness and dislike of bright lights, although this is unusual in babies. If you suspect meningitis, don’t hesitate to call 111 or take your child straight to hospital.

    A Mum's story...

    Jessicadervin had a scare with her baby son Josh says, “I think it’s safe to say it’s probably every parent’s worst nightmare seeing that dreaded rash and when you push the glass down it doesn’t fade or disappear. We were very lucky that Josh didn’t have meningitis after all but yesterday was a very scary day. Just a reminder I guess to get suspicious rashes checked out straightaway!”

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  • Heat or Sweat Rash

    What does heat rash look like?

    Also known as miliaria or prickly heat, a sweat or heat rash appears as tiny little red bumps or blisters on the skin and it happens when your baby gets too hot. They often sting or feel prickly or itchy.

    Where?

    Anywhere on the body, but often in places covered by clothing. “Typically under the arms and behind the knees,” says midwife, Karina Dyer.

    Who gets it?

    Anyone can get this. With babies, it usually happens when they sweat more than usual during hot weather, but it can happen just by overheating at any time of the year too. The bumps form when the sweat glands get blocked and the sweat becomes trapped under their skin, causing the rash.

    What can you do?

    “Heat rashes are completely harmless and easy to treat. You just need to cool your baby down. Strip her off, pat her down with a damp flannel and the rash should clear within a couple of hours,” says Karina. Prevent it from reoccurring by dressing your little one in natural, cotton fabrics that absorb moisture, rather than trapping it like some synthetic fibres.

    A Mum's story...

    Pumpkino's baby got heat rash in winter, “We had this when Toby was little and it was snowing! GP just told us to take a layer off at night and he hasn't had it since. Was a bit scary though. Took about a week to clear up completely from memory. 

  • More baby rashes and spots in pictures

    Chickenpox

    Crops of red spots which turn into small, fluid-filled, itchy blisters that break and then scab over. Read more...

    Ringworm

    A round, red patch of skin that’s itchy or scaly and spreads in circumference as it progresses. Read more...

    Hives

    Red and white raised, itchy welts that can appear and spread to any part of the body. Read more...

    Slapped cheek syndrome

    A bright red rash on both cheeks that differs from teething red cheeks thanks to its raised, lace-like appearance – often spreads to chest, stomach and legs after a few days too. Read more...

    Hand, foot and mouth disease

    A non-itchy, red rash on palms, soles of feet that can develop into painful blisters and mouth ulcers. Read more...

    Impetigo

    Large, painless fluid-filled blisters (bullous impetigo) or sores that rupture quickly and leave a yellowy brown crust (non-bullous impetigo). Read more...

    Roseola

    Flat, red and non-itchy spots that are around 2-3mm in width, some with raised areas. Read more...

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