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What Is The Red Rash On Baby’s Face?

Every baby’s skin is different, and the way rashes appear may indicate the underlying skin condition. Here are 5 common rashes that babies may develop in the first few months of his/her life and what you can do.

Baby Eczema

Baby eczema can develop in the first 5 years of life. Classic eczema starts on the cheeks and can spread to the rest of the face. Eczema spots and clusters may also appear on outer surfaces of the arms and legs.

Baby eczema looks like itchy, dry and scaly skin, with redness and swelling small bumps that can become open wounds and weepy when scratched.

The onset of baby eczema at two months
The onset of baby eczema at two months

Here is baby is 6 months with open bleeding eczema wounds.
When left untreated, eczema can spread. Here baby is 6 months with open bleeding eczema wounds.

If not treated, eczema can spread over larger surfaces, so it is best to treat eczema at the onset. Baby eczema can continue as the child gets older, or they may grow out of it with occasional only flare ups.

Read more about eczema support management in school here.

Baby eczema might sometimes be confused with ringworm due to their similarities in appearance – round red scaly patch. The difference is eczema is not contagious while ringworm can be contagious. If unsure, your best bet is to visit your PD / doctor to get it checked out. They will be able to take a sample from the affected area for further testing.

In Singapore, humidity is the number #1 trigger of eczema.

Common triggers for eczema flare ups include various factors such as the environment, personal care products, food allergies, stress and a weakened immunity (some even when you do everything right and baby still gets an eczema flare up due to lower immunity as his /her body may be busy fighting off viruses).

When the skin is too dry or when the skin comes into contact with an allergen or irritant, such as contact with materials that irritate skin or trap heat such as wool, polyester and nylon, harsh body wash and clothing detergents, pet dander (tiny flakes from their skin), dust mites.

There’s no cure for eczema, but there are ways to manage your baby’s symptoms.

Baby acne

Baby acne may develop within the first month after birth. The appearance of the rash looks like tiny red or white bumps on the baby’s cheeks, nose, and forehead. The cause is unknown and without intervention but it should clear up on its own in about 3 to 4 months without leaving marks.

However, if you are concerned, a tried and tested method to treat baby acne on all our 4 little ones, was to boil water with honeysuckle flower (the chinese name is Jin Yin Hua, 金银花. You can get this at Hock Hua, or any chinese medicine store), let it cool down, then using it to clean baby’s face with a cotton ball or cotton pad. Be sure to first rinse the cotton ball or cotton pad with cooled boiled water first!

Avoid applying lotions meant for adults on baby’s face. Instead, look for a mild, unscented lotion or moisturiser and apply only a thin layer on baby.

Common brands that hospitals in Singapore typically recommend are Aveeno, Cetephil, QV and Ceradan. However, after trying all the recommended brands, it still didn't work out for us. We then chanced upon Alobaby Milky Lotion and it has been our favourite moisturiser since. Alobaby’s products are made in Japan, which may explain why it suited Enzo's skin better since it is formulated for Asian skin. The milky lotion contains a blend of organic jojoba oil and shea butter, which are both organically sourced and highly nourishing.

The milky lotion does not leave an oily feeling on the skin and is very light and is suitable for babies and children with sensitive skin and eczema.

However, if you’re concerned that your baby’s acne isn’t going away, you can always check in with the doctor / PD during your baby’s milestone checks.

Cradle cap

Cradle cap usually develops when baby is between 2 to 3 months old. The appearance of cradle cap is dry, flaky and scaly patches. Depending on your baby’s skin tone, the patches may appear yellowish, brown, or grey.

Cradle cap is not harmful or not itchy to baby. Without treatment, it should clear up within a few weeks or months.

Some things we did to “treat” our babies cradle cap as it can look quite unsightly was to apply baby oil or coconut oil on baby’s head 20 minutes prior to baby’s bathtime to “soften” the scales. During bathtime, use a brush with soft-bristles and gently brush baby’s head in a circular motion to remove cradle cap. It will not come off all at once so you’ll need to be patient as this may take up to a few weeks to completely come off.

Avoid trying to pluck off the scales with your fingernails as it may result in an open wound on baby’s scalp.

Heat rash

Heat rash can develop anytime and is caused when sweat gets trapped under the skin because of blocked pores. It’s usually caused by exposure to hot or humid weather. Heat rash appears as clusters of very small red spots and can appear on the neck, shoulders, chest, armpits, elbow creases and groin area.

To prevent heat rash especially in Singapore’s hot and humid climate, dress baby in clothes with breathable fabric such as bamboo or organic cotton. If you need to swaddle baby, consider using a bamboo swaddle as it has thermoregulating properties that will help regulate baby’s body temperature and keep baby comfortable. The rash should go away within a few days.

However, do visit your PD / doctor if baby develops a fever or if the rash gets infected.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease

Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) is the worst nightmare for any parent. HFMD looks like red blisters or bumps that can usually spread throughout the body within a day or two.

It is highly contagious and may also affect adults. HFMD rash can start off looking as single inconspicuous spots on the leg or arm.

Common locations of HFMD appear in or around the mouth, on the arms, hands, leg and feet. Symptoms of HFMD include fever, decreased appetite, drooling, sore throat and crankiness. However, contrary to popular belief, HFMD may not necessary appear on palms and soles of feet.

As HFMD is a viral infection, there is no treatment and will go away within 7 to 10 days. Your PD / doctor may prescribe some ointment and / or oral gel to help soothe the blisters.

For babies and children attending infant care or childcare, it is recommended to get a PD / doctor’s clearance letter once your child has recovered before sending them back to school.


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