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There are several types of neonatal rashes including thrush, neonatal acne, cradle cap and milium. Treating neonatal rashes depends on what type of rash the infant has developed. Most neonatal rashes are harmless and will clear up on their own within a few weeks or a few months. Any rash that develops along with a fever, coughing or lethargy must be examined by a doctor immediately to rule out serious infection or other health problems.
Neonatal acne, also called pink pimples or baby acne, is characterized by small whiteheads surrounded by red, irritated skin. This rash is common in newborns and normally appears on the cheeks and forehead at birth or a few weeks after birth. Neonatal acne is the result of a baby’s contact with hormones while in the womb. This skin condition is not serious and will gradually clear up within a few weeks or months without any treatment.
Another one of the common neonatal rashes is cradle cap, which is characterized by the formation of several greasy, crusty, thick and yellow scabs on the scalp. Cradle cap may look itchy and painful, but the rash does not affect the baby at all. Cradle cap will gradually clear up within a few months. To loosen the scabs and speed clearing, gently brush the scalp and wash the baby’s hair every day. For cradle cap rashes that do not clear, see a doctor.
Milium, also known by its plural form, milia, is common in infants and is characterized by small white bumps on the face. The development of milium in infants is the result of pockets of trapped skin that are not properly sloughed off because of still-developing oil glands. There are three types of milium neonatal rash — primary, secondary and Epstein pearls. Primary milium develops on healthy skin, secondary co-exists with a secondary skin condition, and the Epstein pearls variety develops on the roof of the mouth. No treatment is needed, because milium will gradually clear up within a few months.
Thrush is a neonatal rash characterized by a coating similar to cottage cheese or milk in a baby’s mouth; it is the result of an overgrowth of yeast in the body. Thrush can be painful for an infant and occasionally requires treatment. To treat this neonatal rash, a doctor prescribes oral fungal medication that should be applied to the area as instructed. For breastfeeding mothers, doctors recommend also applying the medication to the mother's nipple area to prevent passing the infection back and forth. Thrush generally clears up after a few weeks.
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