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Babies, especially new-borns can be susceptible to different kinds of allergies and infections. Thus, special care must be taken to ensure that babies do not contract skin allergies. Even the mildest skin irritation can make baby cranky and irritated which is something you do not want happening ever! Some allergies are more common than others and knowing more about these can prove handy.
What Is Baby Skin Allergy?
A skin allergy occurs when your baby’s skin is irritated by some allergen or when the body produces the chemical histamine triggered by an allergen. The allergy then manifests as one of many types of rashes or hives. Skin allergies are more common in infants with sensitive skin. Even irritants such as a dirty diaper, drool, food, soaps, and detergents can also cause allergic reactions in young children.
Most Common Skin Allergies In Babies
A majority of new-born rashes are common and require little to no medication or treatment. These resolve by themselves after a period of time. Here is a list of some skin allergies often seen in babies:
Eczema can put in an appearance any time after three to four months of age and might show up on any part of baby’s body. It is rarely seen in the diaper area and is an extremely itchy rash.
Genetics is one cause of eczema while certain kinds of clothes, soap, smoke, and dust can also trigger it. Accumulation of sweat in warm weather and extremely cold weather can also be responsible for this condition.
Eczema might be localized or occur all over the body. Dry, thick skin or red itchy rashes with pus which crust over are symptoms of this allergy.
Clean your baby’s skin regularly with a mild cleanser that is fragrance-free which can be prescribed by a pediatrician or dermatologist. In severe cases, steroid ointments might be prescribed to control the inflammation.
2. Papular Urticaria Or Bug Bites
This rash is commonly seen in exposed areas such as the hands, face, and neck. It is quite common in babies and can lead to hives all over the body giving you the impression that there are a lot of insect bites though it might be just one.
This allergy is usually caused as a result of insect bites. Fleas found on pet cats, also known as Ctenocephalides felis, is a leading cause of this allergy. Bird mites, bedbugs, mosquitoes, gnats, caterpillars, and carpet beetles can also cause this rash to appear.
It starts out as a rash that appears to be a minute bump on the skin which then turns a reddish brown shade. These bumps will be quite itchy.
As this is a common skin allergy, a topical steroid cream is usually suggested for relief from the itching. An anti-histamine might also provide relief and should be given at night. In case the rashes get infected, an antibiotic cream may be prescribed by your child’s doctor.
3. Miliaria or Heat Rash
Also known as heat rash or sweat rash, this is commonly seen on baby’s face, neck, back, underarms, or bottom. More frequent occurrences are likely in warm weather and babies with sensitive skin are especially prone to this.
Accumulation of sweat if the chief cause of this skin allergy as a baby’s body lacks the ability to regulate heat adequately. Over-bundling your infant, tight clothing, and even being strapped into a car seat for a long trip in humid weather can lead to an onset of this rash.
It presents as tiny red bumps or blisters filled with pus as a result of the sweat ducts being blocked.
It usually resolves on its own and no specific treatment is required. You can ensure that baby stays cool and wears comfortable clothes to help speed up the healing.
This fungal infection affects the scalp, feet, and private parts more than other places on baby’s body. It is contagious but not painful or dangerous and can spread through infected sheets, towels, clothes, and toys.
The common causes of ringworm infection include accumulation of sweat on baby’s skin and wet patches in the folds of the skin. It could also have entered baby’s body through a cut or scratch on the skin after contact with an infected person or animal.
The rash appears like red rings on the affected area and is likely to be itchy. The rings might be smooth in the middle and crusty or scaly on the outside.
Anti-fungal creams can be helpful in treating ringworm infections in babies. The cream should be applied after washing and drying the affected areas. A medicated shampoo might be necessary to treat ringworm infection on the scalp instead of a cream.
Hives are not infectious and can disappear within a few hours or last for a few weeks. They can also originate at one spot on the body and then spread to other places.
Hives appear when the body’s immune system produces the chemical histamine in response to viral infections, insect bites, certain types of food, or sudden changes in the temperature. Your baby might feel an itchy or burning sensation when hives appear.
If your baby gets reddish, swollen botches on any part of the body, especially when accompanied by the cold or flu, following an insect bite, after eating peanuts, eggs, or seafood, or after a significant temperature variation, then it is likely to be hives.
An anti-histamine medication can provide some quick relief to your baby. If it happens frequently, your doctor might ask you to note down every detail of your child’s day to find out what triggers the reaction. Further blood and urine tests may also be ordered to determine the cause.
This skin problem usually occurs in babies six months of age or younger. The scalp, eyebrows, ears, neck, cheeks, and chest are where seborrhoea is found. It is also known as cradle cap when it occurs on the scalp and eyebrows. This rash is largely painless and will not irritate baby in any way.
No specific causes of seborrhoea have been identified though it is believed that this condition occurs when there is an excess of sebum. Sebum is an oily substance manufactured by skin glands.
Yellow or crusty flakes are tell-tale signs that your baby has seborrhoea. On the scalp and eyebrows, it can be mistaken for dandruff. When it occurs behind the ears, this allergy gives a cracked and scaly look whereas it can appear red and bumpy on the chest and neck region.
You can get rid of the scaly deposits on the scalp by rubbing in a little olive oil and then brushing it off. Using a little bit of anti-dandruff shampoo to wash the scalp or behind the ears might also prove beneficial.
Often seen in chubby babies, this rash appears in the folds of the skin with the neck being the most common spot. It is often painless though skin-to-skin friction can cause baby some pain.
This rash is seen when excessive mositure such as that from drool and spit collects in the creases of baby’s skin. Since these parts of the skin are not exposed to air, there is little chance for the moisture to dry up making your baby vulnerable to infection.
It looks red or reddish brown and appears raw. It is likely to be itchy and gives out a foul odor while the skin might be crusty or cracked.
You must wash and clean the folds of baby’s skin with water and dry it well. Then apply petroleum jelly or a zinc oxide barrier cream to help the healing. A topical steroid may be prescribed in severe cases as also oral medication.
Tips To Prevent Infant Skin Allergies
Most of the common new-born baby skin problems can be prevented by taking some simple precautions. Keeping baby’s skin clean and moisturized plays an important part in this. Here are some things you can do to prevent skin allergies:
- Try to avoid giving a baby a bath every day with soap. Soap has a drying effect and it can leave your baby’s skin flaky and deprived of natural oils if used frequently.
- Moisturize baby’s skin with a gentle cream after bath every time.
- Keep baby away from insects and bugs. You can use nets on the windows of your home to keep insects away and dress baby in pants and long sleeves when going out, particularly if visiting parks or open spaces.
- Dress baby in layers so that you are able to take off your baby’s clothes if it gets warm and thus, avoid sweating.
- Be sure to check the ingredients of all foods that you offer to baby to guard against food allergens. This way, you will be able to avoid many of the usual food allergens if not all.
- Keep the temperature in baby’s room in a comfortable setting that is neither too hot nor too cold.
- If anyone in the family has skin allergies of any kind, keep the baby away from them to prevent direct contact.
- Immediately clean up drool and spit ups that make its way to baby’s skin, especially the neck and arms.
- Trim baby’s nails on a regular basis to keep your baby from aggravating any rashes that might have erupted.
- Try to dress the baby in soft, cotton fabrics all the time. Clothes made from synthetic materials can be itchy and rough beside being a source of allergens.
A good deal of patience is required when dealing with skin allergies in young children. Prevention is the keyword when it comes to skin allergies. Try to keep your baby safe from skin allergies by practicing good hygiene and keeping your baby’s skin clean and dry as much as possible. Avoiding allergies will keep your baby happy which in turn means you will also stay happy and stress-free.
Disclaimer: This information is just a guide and not a substitute for medical advice from a qualified professional.