Baby Rashes: Causes and Treatments

By Tracy Wright

The first year of a baby’s life comes along with many challenges, and one of the most common is skin conditions that may pop up. Rashes are often associated with diapers, but they can also come in many forms all over their bodies. As a mom to a 9 and 13-year-old, I pretty much saw almost every type of rash between both of my children.


Let’s talk about one of the most common types of rashes— roseola. Roseola is extremely common with babies under three years old. Roseola usually begins with two to three days of unexplained fever followed by a red rash on the chest and stomach, according to the Seattle Children’s Hospital. The good news is that by the time the rash appears, the child is typically done with their fever and feel better.


Fifth’s Disease

Similarly, many other types of rashes are caused by viruses. Typically, a child who has a fever may have rashes on their cheeks or their stomach and chest area. Common early childhood viruses that produce rashes are Fifth’s Disease which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is caused by the parvovirus B19 virus. The rash typically occurs on the face with rosy cheeks and can also arise on arms and legs. When my daughter caught this virus, she had no other symptoms.

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

Another sometimes painful viral condition that causes rashes is Hand, Foot and Mouth disease. Although the CDC reports that most children get it under the age of 5, unfortunately, it can be spread to adults as well. Painful blisters can occur in the mouth as well as bumps in the hands and feet (as indicated by the name). It is usually accompanied by a fever.


Eczema is a common skin condition that affects many children and adults. It causes dry rough skin, and a quarter of cases occur within the first year of life, according to the Seattle Children’s Hospital. There is no cure, but there are a myriad of therapies and products that can help with symptoms which includes special bathing and moisturizing products.

“My baby had bad eczema, and almost all of the products marketing to treating eczema contain oatmeal and made his rash worse. I tried a glycerin-based lotion (Cerave Baby) and it cleared right up.” – Local mom Christina Moreau


Some specific causes for rashes include early conditions like cradle cap (scaly patches on babies’ scalps) and baby acne (generalized bumps usually found before 6 weeks of age). Both of these will typically resolve themselves with time.

Other skin conditions that cause rashes are generalized allergies to drugs or external stimulants (like plants, insects, detergents
or fragrances). If rashes occur often, it is a good idea to check in with your pediatrician to see if more allergy tests are needed. My son had a grass allergy when he was much younger that he finally grew out of.


For itchy rashes, Seattle Children’s Hospital recommends some home remedies like cool baths without soap (baking soda may be added). Hydrocortisone cream or ointment can be applied as well. Another of the more common rashes is the dreaded diaper rash. Bad cases of diarrhea can cause diaper rash. Babies are also prone to developing yeast infections, which can be treated by keeping baby dry and clean as much as possible. If that alone doesn’t work, your pediatrician can prescribe an antifungal cream or ointment.

For general diaper rash, it seems like every parent has their own favorite “miracle cream.” But common brands are Aquaphor, Desitin, Calmoseptine or Boudreax’s Butt Paste. Some moms even turn to breast milk as a solution. “During bad rashes, we didn’t use wipes, applied a little breast milk and blow dried the area on very low heat for a couple seconds. It always cleared it up,” said local mom Susan Keen. More serious rashes like petechiae or purpura cause very red or purple dots and are caused by bleeding into the skin from bacterial infections. ese should be addressed immediately with your pediatrician.

*If you notice any type of rash on your child, reach out to your pediatrician immediately.


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